City council tables annexation plan

Matt Kuhns

The Ames City Council tabled a proposed annexation plan after hearing arguments for and against the project for nearly an hour at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Brian O’Connell, director of Planning and Housing, gave a presentation explaining the Ferguson Annexation plan, which would add about 30 acres to the city of Ames. The tract is bordered by State Avenue on the east and Dartmoor Road on the north.

O’Connell said the area consists of several separate properties whose owners have expressed interest in annexation. If this occurs, the city would be required to extend water and sewer lines to the properties, which is what prompted most of the owners to seek annexation, he said.

“Their wells and septic systems are failing,” he said.

O’Connell said it would take a long time for new tax revenues and water and sewer rates to cover the city’s investment, and the real benefit from the annexation would be possible future development of the area.

“The annexation would be consistent with our plans,” he said.

Council member John Parks wondered whether the land in question is or could be developed enough to make it worth the city’s investment and meet requirements for suburban residential zones.

O’Connell suggested the land could be annexed as an agricultural zone initially, and re-zoning could be considered later.

“I’m not convinced that it’s an issue at the time of annexation,” he said.

Parks argued that annexing land zoned as agricultural would hinder the city’s established goals of increased density.

Property owners also had some objections to the annexation plans.

Steve Champlain, a resident of Minneapolis who owns one of the properties in the area, said he has not signed the annexation agreement yet because of the waiver included on rights to future development.

The plan calls for the owners of the annexation properties to waive their right to protest assessment for future development of the area for 21 years.

City Manager Steven Schainker said the waiver ensures the city will not be responsible for the entire cost of installing the necessary water and sewer lines.

He said the waiver did not mention specific developments to avoid requiring assessment for improvements to gravel roads on the property immediately upon annexation.

Darrel Coy, another property owner, said he would not sign the agreement with the current waiver.

“I think that’s absolutely horrid; we’re going to be citizens of Ames without any rights,” Coy said.

The council agreed to table the matter until the Sept. 14 meeting.