Aldermen signaled they have doubts about accepting a parcel of land into the city for a new subdivision because the developer wants city sewer service, but does not want to use city building codes for its streets.

However, the board gave preliminary approval to the voluntary annexation.

Tri Star Development requested voluntary annexation for a parcel at 2130 Old Gray Summit Road. The developer wants to build a 16-lot subdivision on the site using Franklin County building codes for subdivision streets, but wants to annex into the city in order to get city sewer, and maybe city water.

The subdivision proposes building 28-foot wide streets in the development. City codes call for a minimum width of 32 feet.

City Administrator Steve Roth said the city attorney advised that the first reading of the bill be completed before any discussion on the development took place.

Mayor Steve Myers completed the first reading of an ordinance authorizing voluntary annexation at the Sept. 17 board meeting.

Roth said he told the developer that the city might accept the public works in the subdivision provided certain conditions were met. He also said he thinks annexation of the property is advantageous to the city provided the city be protected against future liabilities.

“I am hopeful that the city and owner/developer can come to agreement on these issues and move forward,” Roth said.

Alderman Andy Nemeth said he’s concerned that if the city accepted the parcel under the condition requested by the applicant it would bring complaints from future residents.

“If we let this happen, 20 years from now when there are new aldermen the property owners are going to come up here and demand that the city fix their streets,” Nemeth said. “We have substandard streets all over the city where residents are wanting them fixed.”

Roth said he explained to the developer that any deviation from city street codes would have to be made part of the subdivision indentures.

“The city would never accept ownership of streets that don’t meet city requirements,” he said. “The developer understands that.”

Nemeth said the city’s experience with substandard streets involves complaints.

“We get a lot of comments when streets start to go bad,” he said. “If we approve the development, they’ll come to us in 20 years and want us to fix those streets.”

Alderman Herb Adams said the city would want to take ownership of streets in any new development because of law enforcement.

“Without ownership the city cannot set speed limits or write citations,” Adams said. “We have a few islands in the city now where when there is a complaint the police show up and cannot act.”

The voluntary annexation petition stated that by approving the annexation the city would provide police protection and that the street department would provide traffic control, snowplowing and street cleaning.

Adams said if the city does not make the developer do what other developers do and meet city standards, future property owners would come to the city and want the city to own the streets.

“What will happen with future elected officials when a room full of voters show up here and insist that the city take over their streets?” he said.

Mayor Steve Myers said he expects the developer to get back to the city about the streets.

Adams said until the city hears from the developer there is no reason to read the bill for a second time.

The question of who would supply water to the development also was discussed.

City Attorney Robert Jones said he had been asked to research an agreement between the city and Water District No. 3 that would enable Pacific to supply city water to the development.  

Jones noted that a 2001 territorial agreement had carved out specific territories for the city and Water District No. 3 to supply water. He said there are provisions in state law for the two parties to agree to a transfer of service but any transfer would require approval from the public service commission.

Jones said the city also could file a lawsuit to take over service in the annexed area.

“I’m not sure we would want to do that,” he said.

Alderman Ed Gass said the city should contact Water District No. 3 to see if they would agree to a transfer of service.

“We’ve had pipe in that development since 1978,” Gass noted.

Public Works Director Robert Brueggemann said if an agreement is reached to use the city pipe the developer would have to put in a pressure pump.

Mayor Myers said the city is not prepared to finalize the voluntary annexation until the development plan was worked out.