There is increasing support to continue an annexation study for the good of the Washington community, and outrage has been expressed about the city council vote to kill it. There are city officials who have not abandoned the annexation study.
Concern has been expressed by members of the Planning and Zoning Commission, which was conducting the study, members of civic groups, such as the Civic Industrial Corporation, the 353 Redevelopment Corporation and the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, a group that is composed of past presidents of the Chamber. None of the groups has held a formal vote on the issue, but members have been speaking out.
Even one member of the city council who voted to drop the study, Jeff Mohesky, told the Planning and Zoning Commission that the matter of annexation was still alive. His comments, along with others, were published in Wednesday’s Missourian. Mohesky had the courage to admit that he has had second thoughts about his vote, said annexation is not a bad thing and that “it will happen again.”
Two members of the council, Joe Holtmeier and Connie Groff, voted against dropping the study. Mayor Sandy Lucy said she was surprised by the move to drop the study at a council meeting in late November since annexation wasn’t on the agenda. She regrets, she said, that she didn’t speak up at the time about the need to continue the study.
Annexation usually is controversial and in this matter the council listened to vocal opponents, most of whom have property and some live outside the city. The pro-annexation study people have not been vocal. That may change!
In addtion to members of the groups mentioned, there are realtors, developers and others who favor annexation. Tom Holdmeier, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, stated a trueism. He said he has had calls from people who live outside the city limits who favor annexation but won’t speak up because they want to get along with their neighbors who oppose annexation. Holdmeier also stated another fact that some people, including some city officials, ignore. It is: “We need to keep Washington growing in a strong, controlled manner. We’re becoming an aging town.”
Those words also apply to the need to make changes in the building code. Washington should be friendly to the competent developers in the community. We should be developing affordable homes and bury the words from young couples who say, “I can’t afford to live in Washington.”
Washington needs an attitude change in regard to annexation and housing. It should be mindful to those property owners who oppose annexation that being in the city enhances the value of property. Also, voluntary annexation will occur, but that’s not the answer in planning for the future. It often results in irregular boundaries and can create problems for services.