Posted 2/16/16 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
The Ray Planning and Zoning Commission paved the way Tuesday for what might be annexations to the west of town.
The commission voted to recommend approval of an amendment to Ray’s comprehensive plan, which was passed last year. The amendment further defines land use objectives for the U.S. 2 corridor west of current city limits, as well as that within town.
The recommendation came after a public hearing, which drew a few questions from residents of Ray and one person who owns land in the area the amendment addresses.
Most of the questions involved what the plan would do in terms of zoning and annexation.
Commissioner Victor Loose explained the amendment would not actually change anything other than to expand the guidance the comprehensive plan offers for future growth in that corridor.
“We’re not rezoning. We’re not annexing,” Loose said.
The Ray Commission, which will make the ultimate decision on whether or not to approve the amendment at the next regular meeting, has not taken any official steps to annex the area.
But the amendment lays some of the planning work to facilitate annexation should it be pursued.
Commissioner Rodney Anderson stated, in addition to tax revenues, annexation would give the town some control over what can and can’t be built in the area.
Currently, Williams County’s Planning and Zoning Commission makes these decisions along the corridor.
“This way the city is involved in it,” Anderson said.
Bruce Bergstrom, who owns land in that area west of town, asked how annexation might impact his property taxes.
Commissioners said they are not certain of that answer. They stress the decision alone does not annex any land.
Work on the amendment was initiated by interest in commercial developments west of Ray. Williams County recently rezoned part of the area to facilitate these proposed developments.
However, no development is certain to happen.
“It didn’t sound imminent,” Anderson said.
Resident Gordon Lokken expressed approval of the amendment, saying any developments that follow it would improve the town visually.
“It’s better to have retail than pipeline storage. That’s not a good sight coming into town,” Lokken said, referring to the current use of a large parcel in that area, which is as a staging area for pipeline construction.