City ordinance would expedite annexation process
Friday, Jul 30th, 2010 By: Terry Dillman Newport News Times
A proposed ordinance introduced during Monday night’s regular session of the Lincoln City Council would enhance the city’s ability to annex areas outside city limits and within the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) by requiring signed consents to annexation as a condition of continued water service.
The city supplies water service to most of its 6,078 accounts from three storage tanks via gravity feed. Booster pumps serve customers at a few higher elevations, including one for the Port Lane area of Roads End. The imminent failure of that aging booster pump station and the price tag to replace it prompted council members to find a way to expedite the annexation of Roads End district, located at the north end of the city.
“It’s been on our agenda for years,” City Manager David Hawker said. “It’s time to move forward.”
During their May 24 session, council members unanimously approved a motion that said the city would underwrite the cost, but directed staff to generate a proposal “to advance annexation of Roads End at the earliest possible date.” In giving that direction, Hawker said council members were aware of “a number of reasons” for considering Roads End for annexation.
Roads End is the largest developed area within the UGB outside the city, and the only access to it is on city roads, which Hawker said “contributes to one of our most difficult traffic problem areas” at the intersection of Logan Road and U.S. Highway 101. The 715 developed properties among the 856 lots in Roads End place the largest demand on water and sewer service, which the city provides to 1,240 properties overall outside the city.
“We have spent a huge amount of money for water improvements,” said Hawker, noting the $9 million the city has invested since 2004, half of it for a new water storage tank near Roads End.
He said city residents, property owners, and visitors pay the cost of providing city facilities and services to areas outside the city like Roads End, which also reap the benefits of city promotions, events and attractions, as well as street maintenance, city parks, and police and fire services.
Perhaps the biggest impetus for annexation of Roads End lies in a long-expired 1978 water service agreement between the city and long-defunct original Roads End Water District.
Hawker said the 1978 agreement was never renewed, and the city is no longer obligated to provide water there.
“The Roads End water service agreement has long since expired, and annexation was expected to occur before it expired,” said Hawker. “The city has no obligation to continue to provide water service, but has done so in good faith at considerable expense.”
Through the years, suggestions to annex have met strong resistance from Roads End residents and absentee property owners.
The situation goes back to June 29, 1978, when the city entered into a 25-year contract to provide water service to Roads End. Under that agreement, the city provided water to existing customers and to new development within the water district. It also meant the city provided water service to newly created lots there, despite a 1992 city policy pertaining to extension of water and sewer services to areas within the urban growth boundary. That policy limited service to one residential dwelling, regardless of lot size, and the property owner’s consent to annexation “unless such service is provided for by written contract executed prior to Dec. 1, 1990.”
The 1978 Roads End contract fit that exception.
But Hawker said they could not extend or renew the agreement that expired in 2003 because it was made with the original Road’s End Water District, which no longer exists, having dissolved in 1978.
According to Hawker, the UGB “works best when annexation occurs with, or prior to, development.” Lincoln City, instead, has “an unusual situation where development has sometimes preceded annexation,” which Hawker said “complicates the normal and orderly process of annexation.”
The city ordinances are designed to provide a long-term mechanism to achieve “orderly” annexation.
The first one required that anyone wanting new development within the UGB must sign a consent to annex to receive water service. Another adopted in 2004 – and upheld in a 2008 court decision after a legal challenge – extended that requirement to cover new owners of already developed property within the UGB. The latest proposal would require the annexation consent from everyone outside the city in exchange for continued water service.
So far, the city has annexation consents from only 409 of those 1,240 properties outside the city – 258 from Roads End.
State law requires city officials to get consents from a triple majority of property owners representing most of the acreage and property value in an area before they could annex it. Even if the ordinance passes, Hawker said it “would take some time with existing staff to complete the process” of mailing out notices to the 457 property owners who have not yet signed consents. And annexation itself requires a public hearing process.
The ordinance returns for possible approval at the Aug. 9 city council session.
Terry Dillman is the assistant editor of the News-Times. Contact him at 541-265-8571, ext 225, or [email protected]