B.G. OKs annexation of Cedars golf course

City, owner happy with outcome; some neighbors worried

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

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The term “fore!” will soon be shouted by errant drivers in Battle Ground, a prospect city officials and a local business owner are excited about.

After a near miss earlier this year, Cedars on Salmon Creek owner Gordy Jolma received the requisite approval from the Battle Ground City Council to have his 18-hole Brush Prairie golf course annexed into the city.

Jolma’s push to move his course into Battle Ground succeeded after he and the Saunders family, who formerly owned the course, submitted a plan that removed Brush Prairie neighbors whose opposition torpedoed an earlier annexation attempt.

The Battle Ground City Council voted 6-1 to annex the golf course during Monday’s council meeting. Councilman Paul Zandamela was the lone dissenting voice.

The golf course will officially become part of Battle Ground on Dec. 21, said Robert Maul, the city’s community development director.

The annexation means the golf course and other petitioners will be served by Battle Ground police and go to the city of Battle Ground for building permits. Fire coverage is currently being negotiated, Maul said.

Battle Ground Mayor Mike Ciraulo cheered the move for its mutually beneficially nature. The annexation has been “destined” since Clark County made the area part of Battle Ground’s urban growth boundary decades ago, he noted.

Prior to the council vote, the Clark County Assessor’s Office had certified that the petitioners had signatures from people owning 60 percent of the $7.1 million worth of annexed property. The petitioners had almost 78 percent, Assessor Peter Van Nortwick said.

Jolma and Saunders failed to tally the 60 percent in their first attempt earlier this year. They failed by fewer than four-tenths of a percent.

For months, Jolma and Battle Ground leaders have touted the proposed annexation as a boon for the course and the city. The course gets to ally itself with Clark County’s third-largest city. The city gets an entertainment attraction and added tax revenue.

Brush Prairie residents were vocal in their opposition when the petitioners’ initial annexation map came out. They objected to Jolma’s plan, noting it would create neighborhood islands that would allow Battle Ground to annex them more easily. Several residents voiced similar concerns during Monday’s public hearing.

City officials have been adamant they do not plan to annex neighborhoods that want to remain part of Brush Prairie, but they have hinted that one day those people may not have a choice because of the city’s urban growth boundary.

“It’s nice to have a resolution,” Maul said. “I know it’s not what all the residents want. Unfortunately, there might be some hard feelings.”

The annexation is not a “hostile takeover,” he noted, referring to the sentiments of some neighborhood residents.

Brush Prairie residents have been critical of Jolma, accusing him of failing to share his reasons for annexing. The golf course owner told The Columbian in July he envisioned building on his property, but would not do so until the housing market showed signs of life.

Jolma did not return a phone call for this story.

Mark Gawecki with the Greater Brush Prairie Neighborhood Association questioned what the impacts would be of turning an area zoned for parks and recreation into a residential one. The annexation, and future ones like it, could also change residents’ fire and police protection, which many are happy with, he said.

“The property values could possibly go down and we would be faced with more bureaucracy,” he said days before the vote.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; www.facebook.com/raylegend;www.twitter.com/col_smallcities;ray.legendre@columbian.com.