Posted 8/11/15 (Tue)
By Nicky Ouellet
As part of an ongoing process to expand city limits, city commissioners will hold the first of potentially several phases of hearings for annexation of county administered lands.
The first phase of annexations include parcels in sections 28 and 26. The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 25, at 6:30 p.m. at Tioga City Hall.
Section 26 includes the Hess office complex and several city and privately owned parcels. Section 28 encompasses the Hess rail yard and parcels owned by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and private landowners.
The annexations will “square up” the city’s boundaries, which currently extend fingers of city jurisdiction into county administered sections.
“You’ve got to start somewhere,” said Mayor Drake McClelland, in trying to get a more uniform footprint.
City commissioners voted in May to move forward with annexation of the areas. The hearing will end a period of public comment to be followed by an official decision by landowners.
McClelland said the annexations are overdue and redefining city limits will clear up confusion between the city and county regarding jurisdictional responsibilities. This is sometimes complicated by shared jurisdiction of a half-mile wide perimeter surrounding the city.
The state eventually wants the city to expand as far south as U.S. 2, says McClelland. The added land would make more state funding available to the city, as well as bring increased tax revenue.
But annexation can be expensive. Taking over jurisdiction of the land means expanding basic services, like water and sewer lines and garbage removal, to structures in those areas.
Landowners in the areas to be annexed will go from paying county to city taxes, and if there are differences, it will vary by individual, said Abby Salinas, city auditor. Some may need to pay for city water services.
Annexation would also require landowners to submit to city ordinances and regulations instead of those imposed by the county. For the most part, these ordinances overlap, but there are some key differences.
Ralph Myers manages the R&R Trailer Court on the east side of N.D. 40 in Section 26. He has already filed a letter of complaint with the city and plans to speak at the Aug. 25 hearing.
His concerns range from the city’s fencing regulations to dog breed restrictions to the potential roadside RV parking ban.
Myers said he has already contacted city commissioners, who may consider excepting some annexed properties from city ordinances that differ from the county’s.
“I know I benefit from the city, and I have no problem with becoming part of that as long as I can have these other concerns addressed,” Myers said.
Ultimately, it will be up to landowners in the sections in question to choose to be annexed or not.
If they do not agree individually, a collective majority vote is necessary for annexation.
“What I’m hoping to have is a good conversation to answer questions and hopefully have them wanting to become part of our community,” said McClelland.
The city plans to annex surrounding sections in later phases.