Wellington council tables decision on city's annexation policy until August
After four public hearings and a barrage of objections from residents in the unincorporated areas surrounding Wellington, the official city policy for annexation is still in limbo.
Wellington held the fourth public hearing at the city's July 9 council meeting and heard comments from just two property owners. On May 7, more than 40 landowners packed the planning and zoning hearing on the issue.
Wellington maintains that the document is merely a requirement set down by the state in 2002 that every city must have official policy that defines the parameters for annexation.
"I can't understand why there has to be so much land included in the map for annexation," said Jackie Thayne at last Wednesday's hearing. "You are going five miles out. This plan might be a little too expansive.
While Thayne's property isn't within the boundaries of the map, she said she is a few hundred feet from one of the borders. She took her concerns to a Carbon County commission meeting in June. She told the commissioners that "they had a big problem" because of the annexation policy.
"I don't want to live in Wellington," said Thayne. "I want to stay in the county."
At Wednesday's hearing, Thayne told the council that deputy county attorney Christian Bryner was researching the state codes on annexation. She said the deputy county attorney was going to provide her with the information.
Thayne also asked who came up with the proposed policy and its accompanying map in the first place.
Mayor Karl Houskeeper said it was group of Wellington residents who were the committee to come up with the recommendations for the borders.
"So this plan was in the making long before we heard of it," said Thayne. "Are the names of these people available?"
No one at the meeting had the five names on the tip of their tongues, but Councilman Kirt Tatton admitted that he was one of the residents on the committee.
"I was on the committee before I was asked to fill in on the council," he said.
Tatton said the annexation plan committee was advised by a professional planner who also helped put together the city's land use ordinances and general plan.
The members of the Wellington council assured Thayne that they would provide her with all five names as quickly as possible.
"Good, because I want to ask them why they made the recommendations they did," said Thayne.
Carla Rhodes followed Thayne to the podium and asked whether the planning and zoning commission had considered the alternative map she had created and handed to them June 4.
"I did submit a squeezed down plan," pointed out Rhodes.
Tatton explained to the council that Rhodes had drawn up a map that cut down the north end of the proposed boundaries.
But the councilmember said the planning and zoning board members had gone ahead with the original map.
"We are putting our dream recommendations down," said Tatton.
The councilmember's response seemed to further frustrate Rhodes.
"In other words, this has all been for naught," said Rhodes, referring to the public hearings.
Rhodes then brought up what she said was a plan in the works for a subdivision near her property in the northern section of the proposed boundaries.
Houskeeper said the council didn't really know much about the plan for the subdivision, but assured Rhodes that it was no way linked to the decision to create and adopt an official annexation property.
"This process started way before," said the Wellington mayor. "Whether this propagated their plan, I don't know."
While no names were offered as to who was planning a subdivision, the discussion turned to Rhodes' situation if the plan did go through.
She shared that she was concerned about her animal rights.
"If it's (her property) agricultural, you're grandfathered in," said Houskeeper.
Rhodes pointed out that the grandfather clause only applied to her ownership of the land.
"If I am in the subdivision area and I die, then it's in the city and my kids wouldn't have the same rights," said Rhodes.
Wellington's proposed annexation policy came into the light at the beginning of May when Jeff Adderly, a county resident, read in the Sun Advocate public notices that a hearing was going to be held on the plan May 7.
Adderly researched the issue and called the newspaper with his concerns.
"We looked for six year for property in the unincorporated area," said Adderly in May. "People who live in the county areas, live there because they want to."
Adderly's concern was shared with many county residents who interpreted the development of the policy as meaning that the city was getting ready to take their property.
However, only property owners can make a bid for annexation and there are certain requirements that must be met before any action can be taken.
The requirements include: A petition signed by the majority of property owners in the affected areas and that those signing the petition must have property that is one-third of the valuation of the proposed annexation area.
The Wellington council decided to table the final vote on the annexation policy until a meeting in August to give time for all the government entities who have received the plan to provide input.
The council meets at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month at Wellington City Hall, 150 Main Street.