A number of people who own property adjacent to the city of Washington voiced their opposition Monday to an annexation plan that’s headed for consideration by the city council.
After hearing comments and objections from landowners, the city’s planning and zoning commission unanimously approved the plan with some adjustments.
It now will be up to the council to decide whether or not to proceed with public hearings and elections on the proposal.
“We did a lot of work for the last year, tweaking this back and forth,” said John Borgmann, board member. He thanked the city staff and other commission members for their work developing the plan. “The council should look at this and be happy with it.”
Some of the opponents who voiced objections at last month’s board meeting spoke again Monday night. A common objection heard was that the city has nothing to offer property owners except additional property and utility taxes.
Others questioned the fairness of annexing large farms that the owners have no plans to develop in the future.
Several property owners in Meadowlake Farms subdivision off Pottery Road objected to being included in the plan, while others wanted to know the city’s plans for providing services to the neighborhood.
“Neither I nor my neighbors wish to be annexed,” remarked Sharon Poffinbarger. “It’s totally absurd to force this on us.”
Tom Holdmeier, board chairman, said he’s had people in the subdivision call him and express interest in being annexed. “They aren’t here because they’re afraid of angering their neighbors,” he noted.
Jeanne Schmidt said she can’t see the necessity of annexing Meadowlake Farms. “I am one of the many not interested,” she remarked, noting that the subdivision already has water and sewer service and police protection through the sheriff’s office.
Darren Lamb, community and economic development director, said the city proposes to extend water and sewer service to the subdivision and add the streets to the city’s maintenance program, but there are no plans to require the addition of curbs and gutters on streets.
The city has an easement to extend High Street, which is east of Meadowlake Farms, to the south, but there is no set plan to build a road to connect the subdivision with High Street, Lamb said.
The city’s policy is to take over maintenance of streets with a minimum width of 16 feet, explained City Engineer Dan Boyce. He said all streets added to the city would be evaluated and placed on the regular maintenance schedule based on the evaluation.
“The big thing is you’ll get better water service for fire protection,” Holdmeier told residents.
“You have no fire protection now,” said Borgmann, a member of the Washington Fire Department. “You have 6-inch water mains that are fed by a 2-inch water district main.” He said crews will have to haul water from the city in tanker trucks to fight a structure fire in the subdivision.
Some opponents suggested the city is proposing the annexation plan in order to get additional revenue.
Holdmeier said the amount of taxes that would be generated would not have a significant impact on the city budget. City officials said the increased tax revenue would be offset by the cost of extending services.
“That’s not why we’re proposing annexation,” replied Mayor Sandy Lucy. She noted that as “good stewards” it makes sense to plan for future growth and take in areas that are contiguous to the current city limits.
The board also heard opposition from residents who live in the Barrett Estates subdivision off South Point Road, and Betsy Lane, off of Highway 100, north of Vossbrink Drive.
Residents along South Point Road also have been campaigning for months against annexation in those areas.
Opponents in all of the areas have submitted petitions and letters requesting to be removed from the plan. Those will all be made a part of the record as the process moves forward.