Residents weigh in on annexation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Residents of 10th Drive SE discussed annexation by the city with Public Works Director Jon Erichson Tuesday night at an informational meeting at city hall.

On May 13, the Mower County board approved development of sanitary sewer services to Bellmans Addition, but left residents of 10th Drive SE out of the deal. Austin officials said residents of that area are not allowed to connect to any sanitary sewer service without first being annexed by the city.

"After the decision was made, the city of Austin started receiving phone calls regarding possible annexation," Erichson said.

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The city called the meeting Tuesday to get a feel for residents' opinions on annexation.

A county assessment has estimated the installation of sanitary sewer and water services would cost the lot owners about $330,000. Although the city has not yet done its own assessment, Erichson said he had no reason to question the cost. With annexation, the city would provide those services, but the total cost would be assessed to lot owners, Erichson said. Owners will have to make up their minds quickly. That cost is based on coordination of the construction with the county's project. The price would go up if the city had to tear up sections of the street in the future.

The majority of people attending the meeting were in favor of annexation, but the minority was more vocal about their feelings.

"Cost had nothing to do with it," lot owner Art Nelson. "We don't want to be a part of the city limits. Bottom line."

He said lower taxes and fewer regulations were some of the reasons he decided to purchase his lot in the county's jurisdiction. Nelson has hired a lawyer to assist him in keeping the land outside city limits.

Michael Horvat is co-owner of the lot with Nelson, and also owns or shares ownership in three other pieces of property along 10th Drive SE. His was the other voice of dissent at the meeting.

Jim Bennett did a lot of the speaking for those in favor of annexation. He said many of the owners not in attendance that night were also in favor of it, and he showed officials a paper where a number of people had signed their names in support of the project.

"The businesses up and down that drive are a part of the city of Austin and yet don't have the services," he said after the meeting.

He listed an increase in property value and cleaner water as two of his main reasons for support.

Erichson will present his take on the meeting to the city council at a future work session.

Two council members, Pete Christopherson and Mickey Jorgenson, were present at the meeting to listen to the discussion.

Matt Merritt can be reached at 434-2214 or by email at