Monona testing annexation waters

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

For several years, the city of Monona has pondered annexing property adjacent to the city’s southeast boundary, hoping to pave the way for future development.

The boundary currently stops west of Main Street and north of East Spruce Street, leaving homes and businesses (like Birdnow Chevrolet) that many consider part of Monona outside city limits.

“It’s silly. The properties closest to the grocery store are outside city limits,” remarked councilman John Elledge.

Properties also already benefit from city services.

“Monona is cleaning both sides of the street and providing police protection,” said councilman Andy Meyer.

“It only makes sense,” added city administrator Dan Canton, “to look at those properties as part of the city.”

In August, after a review of annexation options, the council authorized a big step in the process, as letters were sent to 12 property owners notifying them of the city’s intent to annex 13 properties in the area. Property owners also received proposed property tax abatement schedules, letting them know how and when their property taxes would change.

The city’s now following up with the property owners, gauging their thoughts on the proposed annexation.

One of them, Fred Heins, addressed the council at its Sept. 11 meeting.

“I’m not for it,” he stated. “All it’s going to do is cost me money. I don’t think it benefits me.”

Canton said the city hoped property owners would be swayed by access to city utilities.

“We thought it would make properties more interesting to future buyers, with water and  sewer,” he said. “Different engineers are looking at where we would put lift stations, how we would handle sewage.”

Heins said he was concerned the city was moving forward with annexation to make more money, and questioned where the funds would go.

“That’s not the reason we’re annexing,” said councilman Dan Havlicek. “It’s for the future, it’s for land. We’re getting land-locked, and people are getting farther away from utilities.”

Casey’s General Store voluntarily requested to be annexed into the city when the new store was constructed. Another home on Spruce Street has also been annexed into the city.

“After awhile, that’s going to make an island of properties,” Canton said. “Other developable parcels to the southeast are a possibility.”

“The city of Monona,” he added, “is trying to look at how it might develop property and see how it should be zoned consistently.”

Havlicek said it will likely take the city six years to gain $10,000 off the annexed land, including farm land.

“That isn’t going to cover a fourth of putting sewer in,” he said. “The extra big cash isn’t part of it.”

If annexation proceeded, the “meter would not start running,” until a year from now, Canton said. With abatement, “it would probably be five to six years before you’d see an increase.”

Then, shared Elledge, it would be an increase of around $9 per month for someone like Heins.

Canton said the next step is for the city to talk more with the property owners. 

All 12 would have to agree, by sending a short letter to the city requesting annexation, for voluntary annexation to move forward. 

“Then the council can proceed like it did with Casey’s,” he said. “That would expedite the process.” 

If that doesn’t happen, Canton said the city could apply to a state board called the City Development Board, which would make a decision.

“It’s highly likely they would grant it because of [the properties’] proximity to town,” he stated, “but we wouldn’t know for sure until we applied.”

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