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Annexations

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#1
My small town city adminstration has an agressive policy of annexation on its borders as an economic strategy to increase income. Annexations, Comp Plan changes and rezonings occur simultaneously. As a result, to our north we have the demolition of a historic Donald Ross golf course in favor of 470 single family home PUD, to our south is an eruption of Home Depot, Target, Steak and Shake, Wendy's etc., so you may understand why I wonder if this is a good policy.

What IS the opinion of annexation by professional planners? Pros and cons.

Are there any studies or papers that discuss the pros and cons of the subject available to read?
 

H

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#2
thinknik said:
My small town city adminstration has an agressive policy of annexation on its borders as an economic strategy to increase income. Annexations, Comp Plan changes and rezonings occur simultaneously. As a result, to our north we have the demolition of a historic Donald Ross golf course in favor of 470 single family home PUD, to our south is an eruption of Home Depot, Target, Steak and Shake, Wendy's etc., so you may understand why I wonder if this is a good policy.

What IS the opinion of annexation by professional planners? Pros and cons.

Are there any studies or papers that discuss the pros and cons of the subject available to read?
I know many FLA cities that seem to be annexing, just to annex...to make themselves "big". I would much rather see a unified gov't where the cities and counties can work together instead of completing against each other for "economic development"....but that might be a dream. Maybe the alt. is for the cities to annex every piece of the county, that way there is no more county to compete with and more room to work with.
 

giff57

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#3
Iowa's City Development board won't approve annexations where the city cannot provide services within two years. That said, a few towns have gotten around that for political reasons. If the annexation is for iminate development, it's ok. If it is just for a land grab, that is different. If you have read some of my posts, you know I don't have a problem with commercial development.
 

JNA

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#4
thinknik said:
... to our north we have the demolition of a historic Donald Ross golf course in favor of 470 single family home PUD, ...so you may understand why I wonder if this is a good policy.
Q. What no fight keep the golf course for recreation/open space ?
 

NHPlanner

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#5
I think not of annexations.....because I live & work in NH....and every area of the state, save a portion of the White Mountain National Forest is an incorporated area.
 

BKM

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#6
NHPlanner said:
I think not of annexations.....because I live & work in NH....and every area of the state, save a portion of the White Mountain National Forest is an incorporated area.
New England is wierd, man. :)
 

ludes98

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#7
NHPlanner said:
I think not of annexations.....because I live & work in NH....and every area of the state, save a portion of the White Mountain National Forest is an incorporated area.
Jurisdictions here just wish they could get rid of county islands!
 
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#8
JNA said:
Q. What no fight keep the golf course for recreation/open space ?
The city, developer and their attorneys are in a quagmire of litigation initiated by environmentalists to save the course. But don't we know the eventual ending of that story?
 
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#9
Nebraska has very laxed annexation laws. The land to be annexed only needs to be unincorporated, less than 10,000 folks and a couple of other stipulations. With that being said, Omaha has been gobbling up land left and right. Soon, Omaha and Lincoln (used to be 60 miles away) will touch.

Some development have gotten smart. They have developed Sanitation Improvement Districts (SIDs) to prevent from being annexed into the city. The subdivision pays for its own utilities hookup including water and sewer. Somehow they have able to avoid being annexed. I'm not sure what the legal ins and outs are.

Some cities like Baltimore and St. Louis can't annex at all. It's killing them, because of the declining tax base, poor school system, you know the usual.
 
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#10
It's a nightmare here in my county...we oppose so many...damn cities annex in violation of state rules regularly. I really miss California and the Local Agency Formation Commissions for that reason.
 

Gedunker

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#11
Indiana has made annexation next-to-impossible. The regulatory process is confusing, long, and clearly beset with opportunities for communities to mis-step and have to go back to "Go" (without our $200 ;-)).

Like giff57, I support annexation in anticipation of immediate development, but not as a land grab. Caution should be advised as well: the cost of bringing and then delivering services to the annexation area quite possibly means the dimunition of services elsewhere.
 

Budgie

     
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#12
IMO, proactive annexation before land is "ripe" for development is a very poor and simplistic strategy for economic development. Questions to be asked - Is the City willing to provide public services to the annexed are prior to development? Are there areas with adequate public facilities within the city that are underutilized? Why take on more area if there are existing public investment being underused?

If your city is annexing without redevelopment and infill, the activity center of the city can shift, which creates deteriorating existing neighborhoods and commercial areas. Economic development can be a double edged sword. Yes property values and sales tax increases, but so do the cost of public services and the damage to existing businesses (especially in a small town) can lower property values and harm the overall economic health of the city. Grow your own that way wealth stays in your community.
 

Suburb Repairman

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#13
H said:
I know many FLA cities that seem to be annexing, just to annex...to make themselves "big". I would much rather see a unified gov't where the cities and counties can work together instead of completing against each other for "economic development"....but that might be a dream. Maybe the alt. is for the cities to annex every piece of the county, that way there is no more county to compete with and more room to work with.
Off-Topic:
San Antonio & Bexar County considered doing unigov several years ago, but Texas Constitution prohibits it. :-\

On-Topic:
It used to be much easier to do annexations in Texas, but certain cities to the north and east of us got a little to liberal with their annexations going out to grab freeway development with weird little 30-foot-wide strips. Now we have to do these three-year studies if the area contains more than 100 occupied parcels. At the end of the three years there is a 31 day window to adopt. If you drop an area from the annexation plan or fail to annex it at the prescribed time you can't annex the parcels for as long as five years! Plus they've added a bunch of weird rules about dimensions of annexed areas that conflict with other state annexation laws. I know a lot of states have it far worse than Texas, but considering how lax the laws used to be here, it was a pretty rough change.

Florida has some great examples of stupid annexation. I want to say its Jacksonville that has the second largest incorporated area at around 1000 square miles 8-!
 

mgk920

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#14
the north omaha star said:
Nebraska has very laxed annexation laws. The land to be annexed only needs to be unincorporated, less than 10,000 folks and a couple of other stipulations. With that being said, Omaha has been gobbling up land left and right. Soon, Omaha and Lincoln (used to be 60 miles away) will touch.

Some development have gotten smart. They have developed Sanitation Improvement Districts (SIDs) to prevent from being annexed into the city. The subdivision pays for its own utilities hookup including water and sewer. Somehow they have able to avoid being annexed. I'm not sure what the legal ins and outs are.

Some cities like Baltimore and St. Louis can't annex at all. It's killing them, because of the declining tax base, poor school system, you know the usual.
Didn't Nebraska make it illegal for a city to cross into a new county back in the 1980s? Maybe that law was repealed.

I agree that no annexation is far worse that unimpeded annexation. IMHO, one of the biggest drags on the statewide economies of Pennsylvania and upstate New York is the inability of their respective cities (especially the small to mid-sized ones) to annex land. They are pretty much all 'built out' and cannot do things like create new industrial parks, etc, to grow their areas' economic bases.

Other big cities in states that allow annexation are also landlocked by incorporated suburbs and cannot annex, these include Milwaukee, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Cleveland. In the cases of Milwaukee, Detroit and maybe Cleveland, it has clearly hurt them, too.

Mike
 

Budgie

     
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#15
Suburb Repairman said:
It used to be much easier to do annexations in Texas, but certain cities to the north and east of us got a little to liberal with their annexations going out to grab freeway development with weird little 30-foot-wide strips.
In north Texas even the small towns do this. You can be 7 miles for a small town and see a city limits sign. Most city limits in north Texas look like octopi with thin tentacles running along major roadways. The main reason to do this is to protect land for future city expansion. It sure would be nice if Texas had County land use controls, which are prohibited by state law.

"This land is my land, this land is your land, I'm a Texas tiger, You're a liberal weiner ....blah, blah, blah."
 

boiker

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#16
Annexation discussion is making me think a bit more, which is quite an accomplishment for today. Cities behave as businesses in that they both look to earn as much money as possible to produce enough services or goods to adequetly satisfy their consumers. If cities are unable to grow (outward) and capture the changing markets, the city will fail, just like businesses that fail to adjust to changing markets.

It seems that the recent city-county metro mergers of Louisville, Nashville, etc. should put them on better economic footing. Competition for tax dollers in the region should be lessoned and cooperation to maximize development and tax dollars should occur. Has this occured on any scale yet? Are the mergers successful?

The downside to annexations is that newley annexed territory is mostly horribly low density in the midwest and further stretches the available capital improvement budget dollars. Also, this stretch fire protection and police protection budgets.
 

Suburb Repairman

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#17
Budgie said:
In north Texas even the small towns do this. You can be 7 miles for a small town and see a city limits sign. Most city limits in north Texas look like octopi with thin tentacles running along major roadways. The main reason to do this is to protect land for future city expansion. It sure would be nice if Texas had County land use controls, which are prohibited by state law.

"This land is my land, this land is your land, I'm a Texas tiger, You're a liberal weiner ....blah, blah, blah."
I just about well over laughing when I read that! I don't have a lot of room to talk about my city since it looks strikingly similar to one of those octopi up in the Metroplex. The difference is my city actually incorporated looking like an octopus as a self defense against San Antonio. It causes massive headaches for me when dealing with whether a property is in the City, if so how much, etc. One of the state reps tried to get county land use controls last session, but it didn't go through. Maybe it'll happen someday. People are starting to get a little sick of the land-raping going on down here.
 
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#18
Budgie said:
Are there areas with adequate public facilities within the city that are underutilized? Why take on more area if there are existing public investment being underused? ... Yes property values and sales tax increases, but so do the cost of public services and the damage to existing businesses (especially in a small town) can lower property values and harm the overall economic health of the city.
Thank you for your thoughtful answer. I am not well versed on the pros and cons of annexation as a public policy. I do know it has become the shining hope of my city's solvency. About 37% of the city's land is tax exempt (churches, an expanding college, state and federally owned structures), and in Florida who has no income tax, a lot of our municipal governments are funded primarily by ad valorem taxes. So annexations, particularly with high dollar commercial value, are a strategy to "balance" this 37% out.
I don't worry so much about the additional costs to provide services since these annexations are contiguous around a tightly dense city. I do worry about the crudscape factor and the city's commercial shifting core away from downtown.

But what I don't know anything about and so fear MOST are the negative factors of an ever shifting boundary of the city's edges.

Maybe I am worrying over nothing.

Any thoughts on what those factors might be?
 

Budgie

     
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#19
thinknik said:
I do know it has become the shining hope of my city's solvency. About 37% of the city's land is tax exempt (churches, an expanding college, state and federally owned structures),
Excellent observation. In small and mid-size towns a proliferation of tax exempt land uses can be a major fiscal drain, especially when clustered in downtown office space. I've heard a number of cities concerned about this phenomenon and the concentration of antique stores in downtowns.

Does your city impose impact fees for new development to help cover the construction cost of new infrastructure, facilities and equipment? If not, I would still be concerned about the fiscal impact of annexation. Does the City proactively annex land without specific development proposals being made? Are these "build it and they will come" land grabs? Is there a high level of rural services?
 
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#20
mgk920 said:
IMHO, one of the biggest drags on the statewide economies of Pennsylvania and upstate New York is the inability of their respective cities (especially the small to mid-sized ones) to annex land. They are pretty much all 'built out' and cannot do things like create new industrial parks, etc, to grow their areas' economic bases.
I agree completely, and wonder how this will play out 20 years from now. Many of these cities face annual financial crises that result in massive property tax increases and cuts in services... compelling residents to move elsewhere... putting a greater burden on those left behind. It seems to be an unending cycle. The proliferation of tax exempt uses in small- and mid-sized cities exascerbates the situation. There are limited opportunities for growth. Meanwhile, adjacent towns are booming, and are able to limit their tax increases.
 
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