Property owners can take down those “No Annexation No” signs that have dotted the landscape around Washington for months.
City council members killed the proposed annexation plan Monday night, voting, 6 to 2, to use it instead as a guide for voluntary annexations in the future.
Outgoing Councilman Tim Brinker made the motion to follow the path of voluntary rather than forced annexation of adjacent areas.
Voting for the motion were Brinker, Walt Meyer, Steve Sullentrup, Jeff Mohesky, Mark Hidritch and Josh Brinker.
Members Connie Groff and Joe Holtmeier voted no.
Groff said she voted against the motion because the council had not completed a series of workshops it set to discuss the plan, approved by the planning and zoning commission after a yearlong study.
“I don’t think we’ve adequately asked the questions,” Groff remarked. “I don’t think at this point we should be abandoning the work of planning and zoning.”
The annexation plan faced stiff opposition from outlying residents from the very beginning.
Brinker raised the issue in his closing remarks as a city councilman. Monday was his last meeting as a councilman because he won election in November as the first district Franklin County commissioner, an office he will assume at the first of the year.
He said that no matter how far out the city annexes it would cause a strained relationship with property owners.
“I proposed the annexation proposal be accepted as a voluntary rather than a forced annexation,” Brinker remarked. “I think that is a much more proactive approach than to take it to a vote.
He then made the motion to adopt the plan as a voluntary priority list and “not build walls” between city and outlying residents.
Brinker said the council would not be abandoning the plan developed by the planning and zoning commission. “We’ll actually be adopting it, only in a different format.”
He said the only amicable approach would be to allow adjacent property owners to voluntarily come into the city.
“I’ll be the first to say thank you for planning and zoning’s efforts,” Brinker said.
Sullentrup said he would support meeting with property owners whose land was proposed to be annexed and work out agreements under which they would request voluntary annexation if they ever want to sell their property.
That would be an item for separate discussion, Brinker noted.
Groff said she would rather see action on Sullentrup’s proposal before dropping the annexation plan.
It was apparent that word had gotten around that Brinker’s motion would be brought up Monday night. Several property owners who own land in the annexation areas attended the meeting and applauded after the motion passed.