The Washington City Council agreed Monday that it favors moving forward with annexation in phases, though the first phase will be determined after a meeting with residents in Meadowlake Farms subdivision.
During the council’s first workshop where citizens could comment, city staff recommended separating annexation into phases — west, south and then east.
Phase one would include cleaning up pockets in the west and consideration of areas proposed to the south from planning and zoning, which would exclude the Eckelkamp, Frost and Sullentrup tracts located off Westlink Industrial Drive in the proposed annexation area to the west of the city limits.
The city would bring services to Baker Estates and Adams/Brinker properties in the west area, and Meadowlake subdivision, off Pottery Road, which would be determined by feedback from property owners, said Darren Lamb, city economic development director.
City council members favored the city staff’s plan of action.
Greg Skornia, city council member, said he feels the plan is “doable.”
“I like this plan a lot better,” he said.
Joe Holtmeier, council member, agreed, and complimented the city staff on the job its done so far.
Lamb presented a power-point presentation to provide feedback from property owners, outline merits of moving forward with annexation and the staff recommendation on how to move forward.
In the past several months, city staff has met with several property owners who would be affected by annexation as well as developers, which was requested by the council.
Several concerns were addressed, including discharging of firearms, the feeling that the city is taking on too much service-wise, concerns about the definition of a feed lot and fireworks in city limits.
Lamb said the council will have an ordinance for consideration in August that would allow for shooting matches that already are held. He also said that not all properties have to be served with city utilities.
The staff would create a plan of intent to outline how it plans to provide service.
City staff has recommended that the sale of fireworks remain banned within city limits.
Jerry Manue, who runs a fireworks stand on the Hazel tract, spoke in opposition of the ban and said the landowner “never wants in (the city limits).”
Maune told the council that he would like to stay in the same location and said there really is no other place further out to move.
He said he had a letter from Hazel saying he didn’t want to be included in the annexation plan and that at one time, the land had been taken out. It was later put back in.
“I don’t know who’s paying who off or who’s convincing them that we need to be put back in all the time,” Maune said.
Sewer and water already are in the area and could easily be connected, which is why it was included in the plan, Mayor Sandy Lucy said.
Those in proposed annexation areas also asked questions about burning, in which laws need to be clarified, requirements to connect to city sewer and water and street maintenance.
Lamb said land that is not developed does not have to be serviced until it is developed.
Developers and property owners thought that annexation should focus to the south where existing infrastructure is in place, west of Highway A and east/west of Highway 47.
Considerations for Annexation
Lamb outlined several considerations for annexation, which include ensuring that infrastructure/development improvements are sufficient and do not pose a future liability for the city, to create controlled, orderly development opportunities and manage future transportation needs.
Other considerations included providing compact, contiguous and distinct boundaries for emergency service personnel and equitable provision of services for city residents.
Developments outside the city limits typically fall short of design guidelines of city requirements, Lamb said.
Additionally, a $20 million sewage plant is set to be paid off by users in 20 years. City growth has slowed drastically since the plant was built, which will place a greater burden on city residents if the city does not annex.
Lamb also outlined development opportunities in the south, east and west.
There are 1,729 acres available for voluntary annexation now. If the annexation plan is approved, 4,044 acres would be open for voluntary annexation.
The meeting drew in more than 40 residents, county members and those in the proposed annexation areas. Two other meetings have been held in the past several months.
A show of hands revealed that about half of the audience was in favor of annexation.
About a dozen people spoke at the workshop. Some in the proposed annexation areas asked questions, while others voiced support or opposition to annexation.
“The definition of community is a group of people who congregate together because of common goals and common ties,” said Don Northington, city resident. “Unfortunately, Washington, as a community, is divided by an artificial line of the city limits.”
Northington said that historically, as the city has needed space, it has had to request to expand to areas on the other side.
“To meet the challenges of this community, it must continue, so I certainly support annexation,” Northington added.
Bill Miller Sr., Washington resident, commended the city staff for its work on the plan.
“It’s a very modest plan,” he said. “I hope, for the future of Washington, we will move forward on annexation.”
Ray Frankenberg Jr., Washington resident and an engineer, said that it’s important for the city to annex land before it is developed.
“My recommendation, ultimately, would be to make it as big as you can, get it all in and do it all organized,” he said, adding that he understands that is not an option.
“I appreciate where you’re going and the steps you’re taking to accommodate everybody and I’m definitely for the annexation,” he said.
Gayle Hachman, city resident and planning and zoning member, also said she hopes the city proceeds with annexation.