The best laid Planning plans…

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Back to the Planning Board

Tim Atkinson of Pivots Plus airs his views on the city potentially annexing Selway Drive as City Director of Operations Todd Hazelbaker and Frontline Ag’s David Schuett (on screen) listen during last week’s meeting of the city’s Planning Board. M.P. Regan photo

Things did not proceed quite as planned at last week’s meeting of the city’s Planning Board.

The “Discussion/Review of Extension of Services Agreement” on the agenda for the April 8 Planning Board get-together did not take place because City Director of Operations Todd Hazelbaker did not have the latest proposed revisions of the agreement from City Attorney Jim Dolan.

An “Update on Proposed Planning Legislation from the Legislature” had just one bill, “Indoor Cleanup Standards for Methamphetamine” that generated discussion, and very little of it.

The “Update/Review of the Capital Improvement Plan Survey and Moving Forward with the CIP” agenda item was discussed at some length, but moved mostly sideways because the engineer the city hired to draft the long-range plan outlining big project priorities for the city was unable to attend the meeting due to scheduling conflicts.

And the “Discuss/Review Recommendation of Noble Street Properties and Selway Drive Annexation” moved down a wormhole into a debate over whether the discussion of it should even take place that night—or ever.

“What’s the normal procedure for notifying land owners that they are about to be annexed?” wondered Tim Atkinson, of Pivots Plus on Selway Drive.

“We’re just at the initial discussion point,” replied Hazelbaker.

“Shouldn’t we be involved as landowners in this initial meeting? The only reason I heard about this meeting was third- or fourth-hand. So, I don’t know if you’re trying to go around the back door here and get this thing jammed in or what we’re doing here,” commented Atkinson.

“No, tonight’s just really kind of the first step, discussion as a Planning Board,” said Hazelbaker.

“Then why weren’t we as landowners notified of this meeting right here?” asked Atkinson.

“That’s a fair question,” conceded Hazelbaker.

“It’s a very good question,” said Atkinson, who then raised another question that would be raised over and over during the meeting.

“What is the benefit of me being annexed, my property being annexed into the city?” queried Atkinson.

“Well, for one, you’ll have access to city water and city sewer, and development protections,” responded Planning Board Chair Don Hand

“So, I don’t need city sewer. I don’t need city water,” insisted Atkinson, who noted he already had a well and septic system he was happy with.

“You guys can’t take care of what you already have out there. So, why are you going to add to it? What’s the benefit to Pivots Plus of being annexed into the city?” shot back Atkinson.

“Maybe the advantage is to your neighbors,” said Hand.

“We should discuss that with them. So, maybe if they were notified and they were brought here, then they could discuss that with you,” countered Atkinson, before again asking what the benefits would be for Pivots Plus to be annexed by the city.

“If you were to have well issues—that’s something you’d have to look at. I assume you’re on a septic system,” replied Hazelbaker. “If you were to have trouble with those.”

“The EPA is going to start requiring all the individual septic tank owners to come on their system,” Hand advised Atkinson. “We haven’t seen a timeline yet, but it’s gonna come.”

“So, that’s the benefit right there?” said Atkinson,

“Twenty years down the road? That the EPA is going to start sending that out? Tell me what the benefit is to Pivots Plus right now?” Atkinson again asked.

“The city does not plow the streets. The county plows Selway,” pointed out Atkinson.

“So, now what are we going to do? So, now we’re going to just pack them in ice, like the rest of town?” added Atkinson.

“You guys are talking about spending all this money. That’s all I’ve listened to this whole night—is spending money, spending money, spending money,” said Atkinson, referring to the discussion of the CIP earlier in the meeting outlining some of the significant capital improvement projects the city could undertake over the next decade-plus.

“Why don’t you start taking care of what you already have?”

“How do we do that without spending money?” replied Hand.

“We’re not talking about formally spending money, but coming up with a plan to,” noted Hazelbaker of the five-year, 10- year and 15-year timelines the CIP addresses.

“So, that’s why one of the discussions was ‘improvement of the streets’—how to improve the streets with French drains, that type of thing. But I understand your point,” said Hazelbaker.

“So, I’m very disappointed that nobody notified us, the landowners on that street. I’ve talked to probably half of them—nobody was notified that this was occurring,” said Atkinson.

“And that’s where I failed,” admitted Hazelbaker.

“I was thinking I’d just throw it out to these guys tonight and then go to the process—then we have public hearings, everybody is notified by certified mail,” said Hazelbaker.

“So, I apologize for that—that falls on me. At the next meeting, definitely every landowner will be notified.”

Another person with a business on Selway Drive then also questioned the value of his property and those of others in the area being annexed into the city.

“I see no upside to bringing those properties into the city,” said Frontline Ag’s David Schuett.

“We have our own septic tanks; we have our own wells,” added Schuett before advising the city that a water line he’d allowed the city to extend to another private property off Selway Drive would be jeopardized by annexation.

“I granted the city permission to bring that water line down my private road,” said Schuett.

“That permission was based on the idea, the understanding that I had with the city that that property would never be annexed into the city,” explained Schuett, who said his permission and the water line would go away if the city proceeded with moves to annex the properties on Selway Drive.

“I will revoke that permission and I will have you remove that water line,” vowed Schuett.

“So, I think that’s something you have to take into account,” concluded Schuett.