Alice Campbell Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The city plans to continue with the annexation process as planned, with some additions. The owners of the new properties on the list, which are mainly newly constructed or under construction, have signed petitions requesting to be annexed, Andrew Brekke, the annexation committee’s chairman, said. The committee will make a recommendation to the full City Council at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 17, to switch from the provision of services rule to a petition rule that will allow the extra properties to be brought in and will streamline the process, Brekke said. Originally, the city sought to annex properties based on whether they received water and sewer services. A property had to receive both to be annexed. But after delays and opposition, the committee decided to look at changing to using a different rule. The petition rule requires that more than 50 percent of the owners or owners of more than 50 percent of the property to be annexed agree to the process. Properties that sign petitions must receive at least one service of either water or sewer to be annexed, Brekke said. The change in plans does not negate the previous implied consents received from property owners earlier in the year, and the approximately 100 properties will still be included in the final list. Because they’ve already given implied consent, those property owners are not required to sign a petition, Brekke said, and will not be included in the more than 50 percent number. All property owners, newly added and original, will receive a notice that their property will be affected by the annexation process and the date of a public hearing, Brekke said. The public hearing, not required by law, will allow additional public comment and has been scheduled for Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. in City Hall. City Council must approve the final list of properties, which Brekke said he hopes to have compiled in its finished form by the end of August. He added that the full council can vote on a final resolution to annex the proposed properties as early as the Oct. 5 meeting, saying that it’s his impression that council members are ready to make a decision. Some issues remain to be ironed out, however, including how many, if any, properties owned by Hill County will be annexed, where the growth boundary will be established and road and lift station maintenance. At a previous meeting, the committee agreed to consider using the urban growth boundary used by the citycounty planning board to define how far it can annex in the future, after receiving complaints from opponents of the process that the boundary was Too vague. Brekke said he liked the possibility of using it because it is clearly defined and easily recognized by residents as the “donut” boundary. The county has balked at the annexation process, claiming it is detrimental to its tax base, but Brekke said the county properties, once annexed, would make the new city limits smoother and easier to recognize. He added that annexing county properties in question, including the Great Northern Fair Grounds, also would make determining street maintenance for 2nd Street West and 16th Avenue easier. If the city owns most of the property on both sides of the street, it will pay for and perform the upkeep, but if not, it becomes much more complicated to decide who’s responsibility it should be, Brekke said. If the lift stations two are in the area to be annexed are in working order and up to city insurance policy standards, the city will take them over, Brekke said, but added that as of yet county authorities have not provided the city with maintenance records for the lifts. People annexed who currently pay a fee for the lift stations will no longer be responsible for that fee, Brekke said, adding that the city wants to make sure that fees already collected are spent by the county for lift station maintenance before the city takes responsibility. Information, including the Plan for Extension of Services and a map highlighting the eventual boundary and the properties proposed for annexation in this round, is available at City Hall. Information also can be viewed at the Havre-Hill County Library.