Annexation causes confusion with council
Discussion on whether to set a public hearing to annex a section of land in west Baldwin caused some confusion at Tuesday's Baldwin City Council meeting.
According the building official Jim Tarwater, the purpose of annexing the strip of land, the railroad bed located west of 12th Street and south of Ames Street near the new elementary school, is to allow the city to regulate it.
But some of the confusion came when city council members thought the purpose of annexing the land was in order to cross the properties with utilities, which would need to be done in order to further construction on the new elementary school.
City Attorney Bob Bezek said that was not the case because it requires legal authority to cross the property with utilities, which is different from annexation.
"There is no connection between the annexation and crossing the property with utilities," Bezek said.
Some council members were also displeased with the discussion when it was discovered that the annexation plans had not been discussed with the people who own land in that section. One property owner remains unidentified.
Mayor Ken Hayes said he had expected the city to discuss the matter with the owners before they received official notice.
"I thought these owners were going to be spoken to about this," Hayes said. "Midland Railroad has been notified, why haven't the others?"
Council Member Ted Brecheisen said he agreed.
"I would have just thought out of common courtesy they would have been talked to," Brecheisen said.
Hayes said he didn't feel comfortable making any decisions about the public hearing with so many questions left unanswered and a lack of planning on city staff's part.
"I'm just uncomfortable doing this with so many 'I guesses' and 'I don't knows,'" he said. "This is something that should have been dealt with when we were dealing with the water tower and other stuff. This is something that should have been dealt with a long time ago."
The council tabled the decision to set a public hearing to annex the section of land until the Feb. 3 meeting.
In other business, the city council:
- Approved in a 4-0 vote, with Council Member Amy Cleavinger absent, an agreement with Lawrence for the use of its fire training facility.
- Approved in a 4-0 vote to set the water rates for customers outside the city limits at 1.75 times the rate of city customers.
There had been an error in wording in the original ordinance setting the water rate for customers outside the city limits.
- Approved in a 4-0 vote the appointments of Mike McLees, Gale Carter, Bob Hey, Roger Boyd and Laura Dickinson to the tree board.
- Approved in a 4-0 vote to continue participation in the KMEA Mutual Aid Program.
- Heard a report from Bezek on the lawsuit filed against the city by Baldwin police officers. See story on page 1.