Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Plan to Annex 5 Plots of Land Sparks 2 Neighbors' Criticism

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Plan to Annex 5 Plots of Land Sparks 2 Neighbors' Criticism

Article excerpt

Washington officials say they want to annex five parcels to control development.

A teacher and farmer opposing annexation say the proposal is one more step toward driving farming away from the outskirts of Washington.

Voters will consider the annexations on April 1. Four are small and contain homes or businesses. The largest has about 340 people. To pass, the annexations need separate majorities from voters in Washington and the area proposed for annexation. Washington residents will see one proposal for all five tracts, while residents in each tract will vote on the proposal affecting the one area, City Administrator James Briggs says. Donald Engler, an agriculture instructor at Washington High School and owner of an 80-acre farm about 1 1/2 miles from the largest tract, takes a different view. "I want to maintain the heritage of our community," he said. "We started out as an agricultural community. Many people still work farms and want to keep doing it." Engler says his farm has been in his family for 93 years. Engler said officials "want to push the community so it becomes like St. Charles or St. Peters. Growth is coming in this direction," to the south and west. Briggs said, "Development will occur, regardless of annexation." He added, "It is a right of people to do what they think best for the property, to transfer ownership of property so it be broken down into subdivisions." City taxes on farmland is low, $200 a year for a typical farmer, he says, and some people continue to operate farms within the city limits. "Our standards are higher than Franklin County's," he said. "A developer can't get by with substandard streets." "We want to control development, not Franklin County," Briggs said. "We want to control our destiny." Residents of the areas proposed for annexation would have to pay a property tax of 67 cents for each $100 of assessed value. The owner of a house worth $80,000 would pay $101.84 a year in property tax to the city. Briggs said residents would save up to $50 a year when the costs of annexation are subtracted from its benefits. The areas proposed for annexation send runoff toward Washington, which recently has spent $1 million to control storm water. …

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