Washington City Council members will continue their discussion on a preliminary annexation plan later this month.
The council held a workshop Monday night on the proposal recommended by the city’s planning and zoning commission.
The plan, developed over the last year, will be reviewed again at the council’s operations/administration committee meeting set for Monday, Oct. 22.
During the process of putting together the plan, the planning commission cut out certain areas that were proposed in the original version and the council could make further changes in the proposal before deciding to put the issue to voters.
“Now it’s up to us to endorse it as is or make changes,” Mayor Sandy Lucy said at the conclusion of the workshop. “Now it’s the council’s place to tweak the plan.”
The proposal calls for annexing land to the west, south and east of the current city limits.
Darren Lamb, community and economic development director, said that the properties to the south and east are contiguous, but to the west there are a number of individual parcels that don’t touch.
Lamb said that means that each of the parcels to the west would be voted on individually, based on the opinion of City Counselor Mark Piontek.
During the presentation, the council was told how over the years with voluntary annexations, the city limits became “erratic,” leaving pockets of land surrounded by the city.
The proposed annexation areas include:
This area generally includes Meadowlake Farms subdivision and large parcels east of the subdivision extending south from High Street.
The original south annexation area included Emerald City subdivision, Summer Hill Estates and Alexander Estates and lots along Pottery Road, all which were later removed from the plan.
A proposal was made to add the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery property along Highway A to the south area. However, the church, which requested to include the cemetery, could immediately request voluntary annexation because of its proximity to the city limits, City Counselor Mark Piontek said.
The annexation area west of the Washington city limits includes a large tract of ground north of Westlink Industrial Drive and south of West Main Street, property along Betsy Lane to the northwest of Vossbrink Drive, a small parcel along the south side of Bluff Road just west of Heidmann Industrial Park and pockets of property north of Highway 100 surrounded by land that’s in the city limits as well as Highway 100 right of way along stretches outside the city limits.
The proposed east area includes large areas of agricultural property on the north and south sides of Highway 100, including parcels along Bieker and South Point roads and the 60-acre parcel purchased by the Washington School District that lies east of St. John’s Road and south of Old Highway 100.
The latest plan also proposes to take in property north of Old Highway 100 to the Missouri River, from the existing city limits to a point east of St. John’s Road.
While some preliminary figures were presented regarding costs for extending services to proposed annexation areas, those numbers are being “revised” further and more information will be presented at the upcoming committee meeting, said City Administrator Jim Briggs.
Connie Groff, council member, expressed concern about “dividing” some farm property.
“We can still exclude or include areas in the plan,” Lucy noted.
Groff also asked if there was anything the council could do to protect farms that have been in families for generations, noting that the makeup of the council will change in the future.
Briggs said in all his years in city government he’s never seen any council do anything that would be harmful to family farms.
The city did set up an agricultural zoning district for property owners inside the city limits and some of those areas are being farmed today, he said.
The issue of being able to continue hunting and shooting firearms in outlying areas has been raised by annexation opponents in the past.
City officials agree that should not be addressed as a zoning issue but rather could be allowed and regulated by ordinance.
Such an ordinance could be passed regardless if the annexation plan is approved, it was explained.
Police Chief Ken Hahn said he has been researching the matter and is looking at recommending using an ordinance passed by the city of Wildwood.
The city may want to “tweak” that ordinance but otherwise it’s a good model, Hahn told the council.