After a decades long love-hate relationship between Roads End and Lincoln City, the Lincoln City City Council has laid down the gauntlet; the council is launching the process to annex Roads End into the city. A number of Roads End residents opposed to annexation threaten a court fight.
Councilors Monday night ordered city staff to begin the formal process of referring the issue to the Lincoln City Planning Commission which will conduct a public hearing, or hearings on the issue, and then forward their recommendation onto the city council which will hold their own public hearing or hearings and then make their decision.
At issue today is pretty much the same issue as its been for decades. Way back in the 1970’s a water troubled Roads End neighborhood approached Lincoln City asking the city to provide them with water. The city agreed but added that the Roads End area would someday have to annex into the city to repay the town for extending such expensive services to their area lying just outside the northern city limits. Area residents and their water-challenged Roads End Water District agreed. However, no date was ever set to initiate annexation.
Years came and went. The city expanded water service to Roads End, but that’s not all that residents enjoyed. Roads End residents enjoyed police services from Lincoln City because the county sheriff could not provide urban level patrols. Residents enjoyed the city’s library, community center, swimming pool, the benefits of tourism promotion and city supported music, live theater and other urban amenities, all the while paying no city taxes.
The 1980’s and 90’s came and went. The city continued to upgrade water treatment and distribution capabilities. Still no move to annex. The new century arrived, and still no move to annex.
City officials began to toughen their stand a few years ago, claiming that it was time that Roads End residents begin paying their fair share of taxes for the urban lifestyle they were enjoying. Even the Lincoln County Commission, admitting they could never provide urban services to the area, including adequate law enforcement, urged the residents to willingly accept annexation.
To drive home the point, the city began asking Roads End residents to sign a letter endorsing annexation or face having their water cut off. A judge ruled such a move is perfectly legal; that there is no requirement that another political jurisdiction be legally compelled to provide water for another. After many months the city reached its goal of obtaining signatures of over half the number of property owners, signatures of those owning over half of the assessed value, and signatures from those owning over fifty percent of the total land mass.
Monday night, Mayor Dick Anderson announced the city had indeed acquired all the signatures it needed to legally initiate annexation proceedings; a process that does not require a vote of Roads End residents but simply by noting the above “triple majority” provision in state law that makes annexation legal.
City Attorney Joan Kelsey noted that the planning commission and city council review and decision on the issue must be completed toward the end of next winter because the state and county assessor need the decision soon enough to properly assess Roads End properties, bill them on behalf of the city, and ensure the revenues start flowing beginning next July, the beginning of another fiscal year.
A few members of the Roads End water district board protested saying that they are a duly elected and established unit of government, just like the city, and should be taken seriously when it says they want the city to sell them water and let the board distribute it throughout Roads End. They accused the city council of fomenting mistrust and offering only unreasonable arguments about annexation. Mayor Dick Anderson thanked them for appearing before the city council, adding that the answers to their questions and their allegations could be found on the city’s website – in the portion dedicated to the Roads End annexation issue. The board strongly hinted at legal action. The council didn’t respond to it other than knowing they have set aside $50,000 for legal fees should the Roads End Water Board actually go to court in an effort to stop the annexation.
Under state land use law, any area lying within a city’s urban growth boundary, which Roads End does, is destined to become part of the city through wholesale or piecemeal annexation. It’s the state Land Conservation and Development Department’s contention, backed up by state law, that high density urban development belongs in cities, not sprawled across the countryside as is seen in California. Oregon state land use law expressly states that cities provide urban services, not rural county governments.
The Roads End residents left the council chambers and gathered just outside and talked among themselves for a few minutes and then left.
To be continued.