In what will likely trigger a lawsuit by a number of Roads End residents, the Lincoln City City Council Tuesday night voted to annex the Roads End community just outside the north city limits. The action came after two public hearings during which opponents and supporters of annexation made their case.
Those in support said that Roads End property owners have enjoyed urban services from next door Lincoln City for decades. Those services include sewer, water, back-up police, parks, recreation and tourism promotions, all without paying their fair share of the cost of those services. Opponents characterized the annexation attempt as an unabashed power and revenue grab to make up for poor governance. Roads Enders claimed that they already pay enough taxes and that the issue should be brought to a vote of the people, not just the city council. Still others said that those who signed their consent forms for annexation did so under duress in fear that the city would make good on its threat to shut off their water (since a judge ruled in 2005 that the city was no longer under contract to provide water to Roads End). A few other opponents said that the city claiming it has enough property owner signatures to initiate annexation is baseless, since so many of those who signed did so under “coercion” and that many have since revoked their consent and that their revocation statements are now on file with the city.
City Manager David Hawker said despite receiving those revocation letters, he and City Attorney Joan Kelsey believe the original letters of consent are still valid.
City Attorney Joan Kelsey said the annexation controversy goes back decades. She said it was in the mid 1970’s that the private water system in Roads End had failed and that many of their septic tanks were also in the process of failing. State and local health authorities stepped in and arranged to have Lincoln City extend sewer and water lines to the area, with a commitment from Roads End property owners that they would eventually annex into the city. Kelsey said that contracts to provide sewer and water services were signed – water service expiring in 2003. Soonafter the city tried to convince the area to annex. Residents turned the city down. The city went to court to get a ruling as to whether it could stop serving water to Roads End since there was no longer a contract in place. Kelsey said the judge ruled that without a service contract, cutting off the water would certainly be legal. Hence the city’s current requirement that residents consent to be annexed or have their water shut off and therewith the use of their property.
Kelsey has also stated in the past that state land use law clearly intends for “urban-like high density” areas be annexed into cities so that adequate urban services can be delivered. State law also shows Roads End inside Lincoln City’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), the UGB meaning that all land within it will be annexed into the city eventually. Hawker said Lincoln City taxpayers have been promised for decades by Roads End residents that they would eventually join the city. But it never happened. Thus, Tuesday night’s decision by the city council to finally begin the annexation process.
Along with that decision to annex, the council made these provisions:
* The annexation would become official next July 1st.
* All sewer and water bills to Roads End property owners would be cut in half to reflect the same rate as paid by regular Lincoln City residents.
* All surcharges levied for Roads End users for city recreation facilities would be removed.
* Lincoln City Police would begin regular 24/7 patrols throughout Roads End.
* Logan Road and other streets would be maintained by the city.
* Current county zoning would remain in effect – no commercial development is contemplated within Roads End.
* Valid Vacation Rental Dwellings would remain so, but room taxes would rise from 9.0 to 9.5% to reflect the city rate.
* A slow ramp up to higher property taxes MAY be possible. City staff will evaluate its effects on city finances since it would be ramping up urban street and police services without matching revenues.
* Those having a very difficult time with higher property taxes may get some relief from a county run tax-deferral option.
Again, opponents to the annexation, spear-headed mainly by the recently resurrected Roads End Water District (which was disbanded in 1978 and which today owns no water nor pipes to deliver it) have made it clear they intend to seek a court injunction to stop the annexation. But city officials claim they are on firm legal ground in their pursuit of annexing Roads End.