|Rep Barrett presented this legislation which would provide for both voluntary
and involuntary annexation of properties by cities. This legislation also
requires a vote for any involuntary annexation.
Rep Barrett provided a brief history of annexation legislation which started
in 1992 when she first came to the legislature. She brought forth the issue
of forced annexation on behalf of residents of Stanley and the issue has
never been resolved.
Since that time residents of Boise felt they were dis-enfranchised by the City
of Boise and several pieces of legislation have been brought forth, but have
not completed the process. Last year a “compromise” bill surfaced that
proposed to reach “consensus”, but it did very little to include citizens in the
decision to force annexation. It was a bad bill, but it got everyone off the
hook – except the dis-enfranchised citizens. This attempt at reform
“compromise” is currently on the books and being challenged in court on
grounds of constitutionality.
Now, other areas are drawn into the conflict. Presently, Madison County
residents are questioning the “forced annexation” policy and the way it is
being handled. This bill is simple. It repeals section 50-222 Idaho Code and
amends Chapter 2, Title 50 of the Code by the addition of a new section 50-222. The real issue in annexation is addressed in this legislation, voluntary
annexation or annexation by force. Voluntary annexation is determined by
existing statute and, for forced annexation, a process is set forth for an
election. This legislation further provides alternatives to annexation and
offers reasonable compromise.
Paula Harris of Rexburg testified in favor to this legislation. She is one of
the homeowners involved in a “forced annexation” in Rexburg. Her
testimony is included in these minutes as “Attachment A”.
Rep Smylie asked how many people objected to the annexation and she
responded it was hard to say, but approximately 90%. He further asked
whether they objected to being included in an area of impact and when were
they included in the area of impact. She replied that it was about 10 years
ago when they were included in the area of impact and further stated they
did not object, but probably most people did not even know what that meant.
Marlena Belnap, also a resident of Rexburg involved in a “forced
annexation” testified in favor of this legislation. Her testimony is included in
these minutes as “Attachment B”.
Mrs Belnap was asked about the size of lots in the subdivision in question
which she responded were one acre lots. It was stated the window for
hooking up to sewer services could be up to l0 years, and Mrs. Belnap was
asked what length of time they were being offered. She responded they had
a window of 18 months.
Charles Thomas spoke in favor of this legislation. He stated he purchased
his home with no knowledge of a forced annexation. He will not accept
forced annexation peaceably. He accuses the city of extortion and
Wendell Bartlow spoke in favor of this legislation. He feels annexation is
taxation without representation. Not one city can say that taxes will not
increase with annexation.
Bill Nichols, Attorney for the City of Meridian, spoke in opposition to this
legislation. He states further annexation legislation is unnecessary at this
time. He feels that reforms passed last year have not had a chance to
succeed or fail. A copy of Mr Nichols remarks is attached to these minutes
as “Attachment C”.
Nancy Merrill, Mayor of Eagle and legislative chair of the Association
of Idaho Cities, spoke in opposition to this legislation. She worked on the
interim committee that prepared the legislation that passed last year. She
is well aware of the concerns of the people being annexed and stated
annexation is not one of the fun things a city does. It is a method of going
forward and allowing people to be heard. She asked that the present
legislation be given a chance. She stated the issue of annexation is before
the court and the court will ultimately decide this issue.
Vern Alleman, spoke in favor of this legislation. He stated this legislation
involved private property rights and voting rights. It is important for that
Robert Kunesh, spoke in favor of this legislation. He stated the present
Idaho Code is long, involved, and complicated and contains unconstitutional
aspects of the one person – one vote principle, contained in both the Idaho
and U S Constitutions. He feels present law is weighted to the area of
ownership rather than to the landowner or voter.
He states Idaho is the only state in the union that abolishes property rights
and grants absolute power of involuntary annexation to cities without a vote
of the people.
David Cuoio spoke in favor of this legislation. He feels this legislation will
abolish forced annexation. Forced annexation is the wrong way to do the
right thing. He asked if this bill was something we could live with, and, if not,
what further needs to be done so the people asking for this legislation could
John Eaton, Idaho Building Contractors Association, spoke in opposition
to this legislation. He felt that the way this legislation was written, five acre
subdivisions would have little chance of being annexed. One would have to
spend thousands of dollars to comply without any guarantee of success. He
felt that the annexation proposal requirements were too open ended and
would be extremely expensive to comply with.
He further felt the two-thirds requirement of those wishing to be annexed was
too high a bar and that there was no consideration for the amount of property
owned. This would wreak havoc with local planning. He did not understand
the requirement that no request would be effective after three (3) months
unless renewed in writing to the governing body. This would not be enough
time. He questions why there could only be one annexation request in any
six month period.
Mr Eaton cited some economic figures and stated his association was the
economic driver for the state. He sees several economic impacts to his
industry and to the state in sales tax, property tax and income tax. This
legislation would allow just a few individuals to stop growth and economic
development in Idaho. He felt this legislation would short circuit local
Rep Bieter brought up the point that the proper time to argue against
annexation is when an area is placed in an area of impact.
Margaret Crill spoke in favor of this legislation. She was in a situation
where the Planning and Zoning Commission was asked what benefits would
be received after annexation. The answer was they didn’t know, except a
library card, at least for a while. This legislation will require the city to state
when benefits would be provided.
Larry Break spoke in favor of this legislation. 37 years ago they bought their
property which was outside Nampa’s city limits. Since that time Nampa has
grown and many enclaved areas have grown up. They have been told that
enclaved property poses problems for fire departments, the sheriff and city
police. He does not believe this to be so. He feels a city uses dishonest and
foolish excuses to force annexation.
John Brewer, spoke in favor of this legislation. Mr Brewer has worked on
annexation legislation for several years and stated this issue is not only a
Boise issue, it is happening in other areas. His testimony is attached to
these minutes as “Attachment D”.
Alex Labeau, Idaho Association of Realtors, spoke in opposition to this
legislation. He worked on the interim committee during 2001 that brought
the compromise bill before the legislature in 2002 that was then enacted into
law. He stated only one annexation in every six months causes a problem
since there can be several annexations going on at one time. This is not
practical in larger cities. He felt this legislation would infringe on the right to
He questioned the fiscal note on the legislation. While there may be no
fiscal impact to the general fund, there undoubtedly would be a fiscal impact
to local entities. He asked the committee to hold this legislation in committee
and let the current law work.
Mark Butler, Eagle Chamber of Commerce and Land Use Planner, spoke
in opposition to this legislation. He stated that an urban growth boundary is
the same as an impact area. One gives up certain rights to be in urban
situations. He thinks everyone should be advised what these boundaries are
and what they mean. He stated cities needed to be able to plan and that
comprehensive plans are not only mandated by law, but are essential in that
Garret Nancolas, Mayor of Caldwell, spoke in opposition to this legislation.
He stated he understands private property rights and knows full well that it
is an emotional issue. He stated there is value in being able to plan. He
thinks the legislation passed last year allows for planning and is good
legislation. This proposed legislation does not allow for planning.
Steve Ahrens, IACI, spoke in opposition to this legislation. He stated many
might wonder why a business association was interested in an annexation
issue. An effective annexation process is important in economic
development growth. That will never be more important than in our present
economic situation. The current law allows more information than every
before. He urges that H 274 be held in committee.
Scott Erskine, spoke in favor of this legislation. He stated a city uses sewer
service as a hammer. The city does not always have to provide sewer
service or even water service. They can and do enter into contracts with
other entities to provide this service. He thinks people should have the right
to vote on annexation.
Mark Pollot, Attorney, spoke to the committee at their February 26, meeting
and his remarks were attached to those minutes. Mr. Pollot is the Attorney
of record in the current annexation lawsuit filed against the State of Idaho.
Mr Pollot stated there were 28 other states that allowed people to vote on
annexation and they got along just fine. He also stated that a planner who
could not plan for contingencies was not a planner at all. He said it is
misreading to say you cannot be annexed unless you are subdivided.
In reference to the 90 day waiting period leaving one in limbo, currently it is
longer and is called the statute of limitations.
Mr Pollot asked if he might submit a written response to objections raised
in regards to the legislation. The chairman granted that request and that
response is attached to these minutes as “Attachment E”.
Cindy Ries, stated she and the people supporting Citizens for Annexation
Reform are not trying to stop annexation or development. In fact, voluntary
annexation is what happens about 90% of the time. This bill addresses the
other 10%. She feels with this legislation citizens will have a place at the
table and a decision in the annexation process.
She states the legislation on the books is not consensus legislation. They
tried working with the other members of the interim committee, but the other
representatives would not show up at meetings.
Rep Clark asked where in the bill it states “citizens will have”. Mrs Ries
conceded that exact terminology was not actually in the bill.
Rep Barrett closed the debate by stating this legislation will not destroy the
housing industry, nor will it hurt the state and it won’t kill cities. By and large,
no one really listens when they are holding the power to force annexations.
Why should they? Those with a vested interest always expect a catastrophe
and, invariably, misread the bill. She stated the only people left our of last
year’s legislation were residents of the area to be annexed. Constitutional
issues were raised by the opponents of the bill, but the bottom line is the
State can determine how annexations occur. I would urge you to sent H 274
to the floor with a Do Pass recommendation.
Rep Smylie lives in the area that started this annexation process. He stated
the annexation in 1999 was handled very badly by the city.
Rep Smylie stated he had four concerns with this legislation, the 3 month
window contained on line 26 of Page 2 and lines 37 – 40 on Page 2 referring
to not more than one territory shall be proposed for annexation in any six
month period. He felt this was artificial. Line 8, page 3 asking for twenty
percent of the number of voters in the last general election being able to
object, he feels is unfair and finally the three year waiting period between
annexations is excessive. School bond elections only require a six month
He asked Rep Barrett is she would be amenable to sending this legislation
to the amending order or if she preferred a yea or nay vote.
Rep Barrett stated she was merely the legislative sponsor of this bill and
would not make that decision without talking to the sponsors of the bill.