Golf course swings again for Battle Ground

This time, The Cedars’ annexation application doesn’t include opponents’ properties

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

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The ball could soon be in play again for a Brush Prairie golf course’s controversial push to become part of Battle Ground.

Applicants seeking to add The Cedars on Salmon Creek golf course to the city narrowly missed the needed number of signatures in August. Now, they are seeking annexation again, only this time the application does not include the property of residents of a neighborhood vehemently opposed to the move.

Golf course owner Gordy Jolma and the course’s former owners, Saunders LLC, will bring a new annexation petition before the Battle Ground City Council during the Oct. 3 meeting. Should the council accept the 10-percent petition, the applicants would then need to gather signatures from owners of 60 percent of the land they are annexing. Clark County Assessor Peter Van Nortwick would need to certify the petition before the applicants could bring the matter before the council a second time.

It was at the 60 percent petition where the golf course’s first annexation request went into the rough.

The applicants received 59.64 percent of signatures from owners of properties on the submitted annexation map. Residents of Northeast149th Avenue in Brush Prairie chose not to sign the petition due to concerns about the applicant’s long-term plans and how a move to Battle Ground would benefit them.

Why the applicants included the residents on Northeast 149th Avenue in the first place remains unclear.

“That’s a good question,” said Robert Maul, Battle Ground’s community development director.

A question for which Jolma said this week he did not have an answer.

“I wasn’t aware we didn’t leave them out,” Jolma said, noting he had no intention to include anyone who opposed annexation. “It was a lack of communication. When we discovered it, it was too late.”

Residents have previously questioned how Jolma would not know what was on his own petition. They claim Jolma included them to create islands that would make it easier for Battle Ground to annex other areas of The Cedars, which is in Battle Ground’s urban growth boundary. Battle Ground officials have denied any such plot existed.

“At the end of the day, the council does not want to annex people who don’t want to be annexed,” Maul said. “There’s not a specific strategy to get (Cedars residents).”

Jolma said this week he anticipated a smoother annexation process this time. Gone are the five homeowners on Northeast 149th Avenue who fought the annexation. The proposal Jolma plans to submit Oct. 3 includes his course, the Saunders family who own land in The Cedars and other landowners who are supportive of the annexation.

The annexation would have mutual benefits for the city of Battle Ground and the golf course, Jolma said.

The city would get a taxpaying business and a regional attraction. Meanwhile, the golf course would have the added acclaim of being part of Clark County’s third-largest city, as opposed to an unincorporated area.

Galvanized by the recent annexation push, the Greater Brush Prairie Association has started having informal talks about incorporating the area. The group has not decided whether to seek such a move, spokesman T.J. Klise said.

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