The North Bend Eagle

 

Legal opposition to annexation presented

by Nathan Arneal
Published 7/11/18

The saga of annexation in North Bend was extended another couple of weeks.

Part of the legal description of one of the annexation options under consideration was left off of the first reading for Ordinance 561 on June 5. It was corrected and included in the second reading on June 19. To make sure all the I’s are legally dotted, every thing was bumped back to give the corrected version three separate readings. That means the third reading scheduled for the July 5 meeting became a second reading. The third reading and vote will now take place at the July 17 city council meeting.

Previous coverage:

Map of annexation area

June 27: Second reading of annexation

June 5: First reading of annexation ordinance

May 29: Planning commission recommends annexation

May 8: Public informational open house

May 2: City to talk annexation

Mathew Watson, a attorney retained by the Pioneer Lake Homeowners Association – which is in the area under annexation consideration, attended the July 5 city council meeting. He had submitted a letter to the council outlining the reasons he believes the annexation plan would violate Nebraska law.

The council is considering two options for annexation. The first option contains what has been defined as “Annexation Area A,” which includes Frontier Coop, the parking lot and clubhouse of the North Bend Golf Course and Pioneer Lake.
The second option includes all of Area A, plus “Annexation Area B,” which encompasses the majority of the playing holes and greens of the golf course.

Watson’s letter focusses on the first option. State law requires annexed land to be “contiguous or adjacent” to the city.

Watson contends in his letter that because a narrow section of land 300 feet wide connects Pioneer Lake to the city limits in the first option, Pioneer Lake is not substantially contiguous or adjacent to North Bend.

The lawyer cited three cases in which strips of land from 30 feet wide to 120 feet wide were used to connect a city to a larger area for annexation purposes.

The Supreme Court of Nebraska ruled that such “strip” annexation does not meet the “contiguous or adjacent” requirement.

Watson did not address the second option of annexing areas A and B, which would appear to negate the strip annexation claim, in his letter or in person at the meeting. However, at the end of the letter he said annexation would potentially violate the prohibition of annexing land strictly for tax revenue.

Mayor Jeff Kluthe asked Watson if he wanted to add any comment to his letter. Watson said he would wait until the July 17 meeting to make further comments.

Watson later suggested that the council put off a third reading and vote on Ordinance 562 until the July 17 meeting to coincide with the Ordinance 561 vote. Ordinance 562 would allow Pioneer Lake to keep the gates to its subdivision once annexed into the city. The council agreed and tabled 562.

Nineteen other guests attended the meeting with a few asking questions about annexation and others voicing their objections to the plan.

Jack Dike of Lincoln has a house on Pioneer Lake. He said he patronizes several North Bend businesses on weekends, but that won’t continue if the city annexes him.

“If you annex me, I’ll go out of my way to do business everywhere else,” he said. “I’ll buy in Lincoln and Fremont. I won’t do business here. I would encourage everyone else at Pioneer Lake who is not a full-time resident to do the same.”

Councilman Bart Bosco said that would negatively affect businesses that have nothing to do with annexation. Several people in the crowd responded by saying Bosco represents the other businesses.

“You’re their elected representative,” Dike said. “You need to understand how that works.”

In other council business:

• Dane Simonsen of JEO summarized the bids received on the well and water system improvements. He said bids came in lower than expected.
Rieschick Drilling was awarded the well contract for $428,833.83, and Myers Construction was awarded the portion of the well controls for $77,225.

• Council members discussed possibilities for possible future expansion of the city park or additional ball fields.

 

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