An explanation on annexation in Jackson

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

In order to give you the history surrounding the friendly annexation of approximately 238 acres of property owned by Heartland Materials and the Hoffmeister family into the city of Jackson, I have to go back to the city's previous comprehensive plan from December 1998.

In that comprehensive plan prepared by Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission, the Annexation Plan contained the following: The city of Jackson is experiencing continued growth that will require the city to annex adjacent areas in the future. Annexation is the only method by which a city can expand and provide additional land for development. Annexation is an issue that invariably causes controversy. However, planned annexation is advantageous not only to the city itself, but also to the area annexed, since it allows for organized development and the orderly extension of government services to those areas.

Another part of the annexation plan suggests that the city of Jackson should annex the area containing approximately 1,187 acres along U.S. 61 to the north of the city.

One reason listed is that the karst topography in the area will pose problems for general urban development as these areas have high potential for groundwater pollution, and the use of septic tanks in these areas should be discouraged.

At the time this comprehensive plan was approved, members of planning and zoning commission discussed this issue with the board of aldermen. It was also about this time that a rather contentious election was coming up regarding planning and zoning in the county.

The results of that election in 2000 showed that 78 percent of the county voters were opposed to having planning and zoning in the county.

In light of this information, an informal decision was made that the city should continue investing in infrastructure installation and improvements to the north as development occurs. It was also decided to stick to the policy of accepting friendly annexation petitions contingent on meeting the current annexation ordinances and policies.

In December 2010, the city of Jackson was presented with a petition for the annexation of 1,830 acres of property in the Fruitland area. However, we were informed that the petitioners did not really want to be annexed but wanted the city to deny the request so they could form a village of Fruitland.

With this being thrust upon us, the city had to consider it carefully even though it would be an unfriendly annexation.

In an unfriendly annexation, the city must provide a plan of intent to provide services to the area within three years. The city quickly began the lengthy process of preparing the plan of intent, which must be presented within a year of the petition.

After much study and research, it was determined that the cost of providing a sewer system to that area would be an undue burden on our citizens at this point in time.

In the meantime, there was a request for the friendly annexation mentioned above. As a result, the board passed a resolution at the Nov. 28 board meeting to annex only those areas that have applied for friendly annexation since the acceptance of the entire area would result in a contentious dispute with some of the owners of residential and agricultural land within the area.

Barbara Lohr is the mayor of Jackson.

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