By Joe Barker
Missourian Staff Writer
Washington City Council members took the next step this week toward putting an annexation plan on the August election ballot.
The council continued the discussion on extending the city’s borders during the regular administration/operations meeting Monday night.
Two proposed new boundary maps were presented, and approved, and plans were made to begin working on the annexation plan of intent.
Once the plan of intent is complete, it will be presented at public hearings and could eventually find its way on the ballot at the August election.
“We want to get this to the voters in August,” said Jim Briggs, city administrator. “Otherwise it’s going to be another year.”
At a December council meeting, guidelines were approved for providing city services to future annexation areas. The next step in the process was figuring out the exact boundaries for areas proposed to be annexed.
“Tonight’s objective is for the council to look at what we have right now,” Mayor Sandy Lucy said. “Are we comfortable with this? Because we want to move this forward with the plan of intent.”
Darren Lamb, Washington’s community and economic development director, presented two maps, one for proposed southern expansion and one for annexing land to the west of the current city limits. No other areas were presented.
“The staff has asked us to move forward with just plans to the west and plans to the south at this time,” Lamb said.
Lamb said the west annexation includes: the Jack Brinker and the Adam’s properties, the McDonald house, four acres of the Waterman tract, Baker Estates, the MFA property near the Ameren substation, property from MoDOT, the Hazel tract along Highway 100, the Conrad farm and the MFA bulk tank facility off Bluff Road.
Lamb said any other properties not included in that area could be added through voluntary annexation later, or owners could request to be added to the map.
“This would not limit them (property owners) from voluntarily annexing,” Lamb said. “If they want to come to us in the meantime, we can still include them.”
The council unanimously agreed to accept the west map and use it as the official proposed annexation guideline for the plan of intent.
The proposed southern expansion includes: Meadowlake Farms subdivision, some properties north of Meadowlake, the Jasper tract, Unnerstall property, the Marquart tract and the Pecka property.
Lucy said the city has had several meetings with Meadowlake homeowners to discuss annexation.
“Our last meeting with them, I felt like it went better than any meeting before,” she said.
Lucy said the entire subdivision is not convinced, but property owners are becoming more comfortable with the idea.
“What was attractive to them was the sewer system,” Lucy said. “They recognize that’s going to become costly to them in the not-too-distant future.”
The subdivision currently maintains its own sewage treatment facility, but future upgrades mandated by the state will be costly and it may be less expensive in the long-run to connect the subdivision to the city’s sewer system.
She said it helped that the city addressed and cleared up some rumors.
Meadowlake is set to have a meeting in February. Lucy asked if the council should wait until that meeting to add the subdivision to the map.
The council agreed to move forward with Lamb’s proposed map. If Meadowlake objects, the council could discuss it at a later meeting.
Lamb said it would be beneficial for the city to include Meadowlake because property to the south of the subdivision is ready for development and can’t be added to the city now because it isn’t contiguous to the city limits.
If Meadowlake is annexed, the area to the south could follow, he noted.
The council unanimously approved the proposed boundaries to the south and will begin working on the plan of intent for that area.
Even though Monday’s meeting was just to discuss the south and west, the council also asked about the east. Concerns about speeding drivers along a small section of South Point Road could be addressed if the city had jurisdiction.
“Our plan was to break this down to smaller sections, and we’ve done that,” Lucy said. “If the section along South Point Road is something you all are interested in that as a small section to add, it would be done following that same plan.”
Briggs said some eastern annexation, such as the South Point Road section, could be discussed at a later meeting, but he warned the council that timing is an issue.
Briggs said if the goal is to make the August election, the process needs to keep moving forward.