The Lincoln City Council agreed to annex the first three of eight areas the Planning Department has proposed adding to the city.

The council was split 4-3 on one of the areas, where Steve Speidel still farms a part of his family’s 100-year-old farm.

During last week’s public hearing on several annexation proposals, Spiedel told the council he would face large value increases and tax rate increases that would put him out of business.

He grows brome, corn and other crops on seven acres near 40th Street and Yankee Hill Road.

“If this land is annexed there aren’t any legal crops I can grow to cover the property taxes,” he said.

“This is just premature for this resident and the golf course,” said Councilman Jon Camp about annexing the area which also includes Yankee Hill Country Club.

Cyndi Lamm and Roy Christensen also voted against annexation, while Carl Eskridge, Leirion Gaylor Baird, Jane Raybould and Bennie Shobe voted for that annexation proposal.

Though the operation made him feel nostalgic for his boyhood days, Shobe said the farm is in the middle of an urban area and meets all the requirements for annexation.

The council Monday also approved annexing four acres of property around 84th and Pioneers Boulevard and annexation of 32 acres, generally located at Southwest First Street and West Denton Road.

The City-County Planning Commission has already recommended approving all eight annexation proposals. These proposals are now coming to the council in three groups for final approval.

Most of the time developers come to the city and ask for annexation in areas where they want to build homes. But annexation of these eight areas is being recommended by city planning staff because they meet annexation criteria.

In most cases the areas are either mostly surrounded by the city limits or are contiguous to the city and could be easily served by city water and sewer. In some cases the homes are on city streets.

In part, annexation of these areas is a tax fairness issue, since homes and businesses around them are paying city taxes, planning staff have said.

The eight areas include nearly 1,000 acres, 128 homes, three churches, a sports complex, a tree farm and a golf course.

Residents in the newly annexed area would pay an additional $300 per $100,000 of valuation on average for the additional city taxes. They would also have to pay the city’s wheel tax on vehicles they own.

The city would have additional expenses to maintain the streets and provide police and fire protection. 

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The council is expected to vote next week on two additional areas, including annexing Sunrise Estates near 84th and Holdrege streets. The 28 acreage owners are asking the city to wait for annexation until the city builds the new fire station planned for northeast Lincoln.

Sunrise Estates is served by Southeast Rural Fire District, which residents say has equipment better suited to serving an area without fire hydrants on every block.

But Assistant Fire Chief Pat Borer said Lincoln already has a mutual aid agreement with Southeast that allows the city to ask for help with any fire. The city is also working on an agreement that would allow both Lincoln and Southeast to be called to fires in this area at the same time.

Acreage owners told the council at a Monday evening public hearing they had been told by city staff in past years that their area would not be annexed until 2020 at the earliest, though city staff said there are no official letters or emails indicating this.

Camp had many questions about the fire service issues for the acreage development and appears to favor delaying annexation.

“It seems like we are just rushing a little bit and don’t have all the answers,” he said during Monday’s public hearing.

Camp suggested city staff was trying to make sure the annexations are approved before Jan. 1 so property owners will have to pay city taxes for the 2018 calendar year.

Raybould did not participate in the Sunrise Estates annexation discussion because her brother and sister-in-law own property in development and she believes participating in the annexation decision would be a conflict of interest.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.

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Reporter

Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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