The City of Milton this spring will annex roughly 91 acres along Pacific Highway East – a largely commercial area that officials say is ripe for more development.
Some businesses operate there today, including a motel and a fuel and ice company. But the area also is dotted with empty or partially developed land.
It’s viewed as prime real estate because there’s only so much commercial property along the busy corridor that parallels Pacific Highway and Interstate 5.
“There is property along this area that I don’t think has reached what the real estate people call its ‘highest and best use,’” said Richard Reisinger, manager of Star Ice and Fuel. “I think once the economy comes back and businesses have money to invest, you’re going to see more higher-end development in this area.”
Milton could use a sales tax bump. The city of 6,900 people on the north Pierce County border has seen its revenues decline during the recession.
That’s meant tighter budgets and some tough decisions, said City Administrator Subir Mukerjee. This year’s $17 million budget included laying off a part-time senior center coordinator.
“For every city in the state, property tax is kind of limited. Sales tax is really what is attractive to cities,” Mukerjee said. “This is an area that could grow commercially and generate some sales tax.”
The annexation area goes from the King-Pierce county border south to about Birch Street.
It includes 15 businesses, two mobile home parks and a few single-family homes. Officials estimate 230 people live there, although they’re conducting a new population count.
The area is a natural fit to become part of Milton, city officials said. The city already provides water service, and its police frequently help Pierce County sheriff’s deputies respond to calls there. Most of the affected land is in the city’s urban growth area.
Mayor Debra Perry said city leaders “look forward to embracing the area and looking at economic development.”
Property owners in the annexation area petitioned to become part of the city. The City Council voted last year to initiate the annexation process, and the Pierce County Boundary Review Board recently signed off.
The City Council approved the annexation last week.
It’s Milton’s first annexation in about eight years.
Sara Schilling: 253-552-7058