The Washington City Council is poised to begin holding public hearings on a proposed annexation plan of intent.
City Administrator Jim Briggs presented the first draft of the annexation plan Monday night at the council’s administration/operation meeting. The next step, Briggs said, is to vote on a resolution and have the first reading of an ordinance to adopt the plan of intent.
The council unanimously agreed to put both the resolution and ordinance on the agenda for next Monday night’s meeting.
“You’ll have a resolution that identifies the areas to the east, west and south,” Briggs said. “That’s the first item. Then we’ll have the first reading of an ordinance, we will not have a second reading, and that will set up public hearings. This plan is part of that.”
Briggs said the resolution will address the legality of the annexation plans. He said the resolution would verify the legal definitions and ensure that the proposed annexation lands meet the qualifications to be part of the city.
“This isn’t anything we haven’t discussed previously,” Briggs said. “We didn’t add anything new.”
The plan proposes annexation of five tracts in the west area totaling about 131 acres, including 17 lots located along and north of Highway 100.
The west area includes 11 occupied residences, eight of which are in Baker Estates subdivision. and two MFA Co-op properties. Most of the property in the west area currently is in agricultural use.
To the south, the city proposes to annex approximately 294 acres south of Route 100, east of Highway A and west of Pottery Road. The area includes 60-plus homes with most of those in the Meadowlake Farms subdivision.
The proposed plan of intent includes a stretch of South Point Road and the properties along the west side of the road.
The area is being added based on a request from residents of Stone Crest subdivision for increased enforcement of speed limits.
Briggs said the city has the financial resources to do the annexation and it wouldn’t require any extra staffing. He said it would require additional money for police and maintenance services, but not a significant amount that would force more staffing.
With the plan of intent draft prepared, the next step at the March 3 meeting would be a first reading of an ordinance. Once a first reading is done, public hearings can be set on the issue.
Public hearings could be set up at council meetings, however, Briggs recommended setting a specific hearing date. He said the last time the city proposed annexation was in 1991. At that time, the city held a public hearing in the city auditorium and had different stations set up to answer questions about streets, public works and police services.
“They were all set up to answer questions,” Briggs said. “There would be a court reporter there to accept comments from people both inside and outside of the city limits about annexation and the plan of intent.”
During that hearing, the council voted to kill the annexation plan due to strong opposition from rural residents.
No dates were mentioned for public hearings, but Briggs said they would be discussed at the March 3 meeting. The hearings will have to be held in the next several months in order for the city to stay on its desired time line.
The proposed official annexation date is Jan. 15, 2015. In order to get everything approved by then, the issue has to be voted on at the August election.
In order to get on the August ballot, Briggs said the city needs to file for the election sometime in May. To do that, the plan of intent has to be done.
Until that date, however, the plan of intent is just a draft that will surely change, Briggs said. Amendments can be made up until it needs to be submitted for the election.
The city’s planning and zoning commission worked for a year developing the initial annexation plan which later was pared down to the current proposal.