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Princeton revisits annexations

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 2:46 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 3:20 p.m. CST

PRINCETON — The Princeton City Council has listened to the request of a rural Princeton woman and will not annex her property into the city limits.

At this week’s meeting, the council voted unanimously against an ordinance to annex property owned by Dana Dickens into the city limits. The two-acre property is located on 2100 East Street, between Interstate 80 and John Deere Road and north of the city’s new water treatment plant. Her property is surrounded by other property already in the city limits.

Dickens had addressed the council in November about the possible annexation and again at Monday’s meeting.

Dickens said she bought her property 21 years ago because it was a rural setting and gave her the outdoor space and freedoms she wanted to raise her sons and teach them to hunt and fish, ride dirt bikes and four-wheelers. She wanted to give her sons the same kind of life she had growing up.

Dickens said she has put every spare moment and every spare dime into her historic country home and property. She loves the freedom her rural property gives her to enjoy life as a family, she said.

The forced annexation is not about having to pay more taxes, though no one wants to pay more taxes and get nothing in return, Dickens said. The additional taxes which the city would receive from her, if her property was annexed, would not make or break her, but neither would her taxes make much of an impact on the city’s budget, she said.

In discussing the proposed annexation ordinance, Commissioner Joel Quiram said the purpose of the annexation was simply to clean up the city map. However, he said he understood Dickens’ feelings and realized there were no benefits to her to be annexed into the city. If she did run sewer and water to her property, she would have to pay to run those lines, and that would cost her a good deal of money, he said.

“Dana would get nothing out of it, and the tax revenue to the city is not significant,” Quiram said.

Commissioner Terry Madsen said the neighboring property around the Dickens’ property could de-annex from the city at any time and then the city would have Dickens’ two-acre plot of land in the middle of 200 acres. A de-annexation might not be very realistic, but it could happen, he said.

After further discussion, the council voted unanimously against the annexation ordinance.

In related business, the city council did approve two other annexation ordinances with Commissioner Bob Warren voting no on both ordinances.

One annexation ordinance dealt with a property located on Backbone Road between the former Lay’s Furniture Store and the Bailey Subdivision. The other ordinance dealt with properties on South Main Street. The South Main Street properties included pasture land, fields and one residence.

In his comments, Warren questioned whether there were any tax abatements or incentives offered to those property owners, since incentives and tax abatements had been given in the past to other property owners. He questioned the fairness of offering abatements or incentives to some property owners but not all.

Zoning Officer Pete Nelson said the city has offered incentives to strategic parcels which were desirous for the city to have within the city limits. Since beginning the annexation process in 2004, the city has brought in an estimated 100 properties with about half of them receiving some type of incentive.

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