To The Editor:
We urge (Washington) Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission members to reconsider their April 9 vote to include the subdivision, farmland, and Highway 100 right of way west of town in their annexation plan.
This is the third time in 10 years that the city has attempted annexation in this area. Each time, we learned about the city’s plans for our land in the newspaper. Each time, the landowners stated their opposition.
These encounters with the city have been uniformly negative and badly timed as we’ve been forced to deal with it regardless of the other priorities we have at the time. Landowners should not have to constantly monitor city government and reiterate positions they have repeatedly made clear.
Given the history of failed annexation attempts, we suggest the city try a new approach, learning from the prior failures.
First, communicate with landowners. Some of this land has been farmed by the same family for over 100 years. At least let landowners know that their land will be discussed at a given meeting.
Instead, the commission has shown an arrogant lack of interest in landowner involvement. The commission referred landowners to the city’s website and The Missourian for information that is only published after the fact. To expect landowners who are not even part of the city to continually monitor the city’s website is like asking us to continually watch our neighbors to be sure they don’t move the backyard fence to take over our yards.
Who does that?
Next, state the city’s intentions. A year after this process started, there are still no publicly available goals, cost-benefit analyses, justification for annexing each section, or incentives for landowners to join the city.
Third, take a reasoned approach. Start with areas where there are requests for annexation or safety concerns like open sewage. For each area, spell out the city’s goals, the benefits to the landowners, and how property taxes would change.
Once the analysis is complete, invite landowners to a commission meeting to discuss their specific properties.
Rather than a step-by-step approach, the commission started with a huge land grab, and P&Z minutes jump randomly from parcel to parcel.
This led one commission member to comment twice that he did not know what was going on relative to the annexation plan.
Landowners cannot follow this haphazard approach, let alone support it.