Objectors seek annex. rehearing

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A group of citizens opposed to the city’s state SupremeCourt-approved annexation has filed a request for a rehearing onthe matter.

Attorney Jack Lyons, representing Citizens Against Annexation,said the rehearing request – filed last Thursday – asks for thecourt ruling to be set aside. The request is based on questionsregarding the probability of the area to be annexed to urbanize ina reasonable amount of time and on comments made about the CAA inthe opinion.

“They asked the court to withdraw the opinion regardless ofoutcome because the opinion referred to them as a NIMBY (Not In MyBackyard) organization,” he said. “When your backyard is betweenfive and 40 acres, that’s a big backyard. They were offended byit.”

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The opinion was strongly worded, Lyons said.

“It’s a little over the top. Judges rule; they don’t shadow boxwith a party,” he said. “The tenor of the opinion was a littleodd.”

He said his clients felt the same way. Also, Lyons said hebelieves the opinion was not looked over by all the rulingjustices.

“This looks like the work of some young clerk that didn’t havesomeone looking over his shoulder,” he said.

Lyons said while the CAA simply asked for the withdrawal of theopinion, the request for rehearing was heavily based on the area’sability to urbanize. He pointed out residents in the annexationarea are overwhelmingly on large tracts of land.

“That’s a town of somewhere around 13,000 people in, forgive me,21 square miles?” said Lyons. “You do the arithmetic and tell meabout population density.”

The court opinion, handed down April 5, approved the annexationof 14.4 square miles that would boost the city’s land area to justover 21 square miles. Also, approximately 3,000 people would beadded to the city’s population.

Lyons said the law is set up is to allow liberal annexation bycities.

“We expect cities to be experts in raising a city and they hireurban planners,” he said. “So if there is substantial evidence fromthe city and their experts that an area is fit for annexation,they’re (judges) not going to act as a super court and overrulethat.”

The CAA was not only speaking in favor of themselves, but alsohad the city’s best interests at heart, Lyons said.

“It was a legitimate, good faith argument to prevent the cityfrom imposing standards they can’t enforce. There are 200-acrefarms in this area,” he said. “Yes, they will be zoned rural, butthere are ordinances that just don’t apply to that, such as theburning ordinance.”

Lyons was speaking of the ban on burning inside the city limits,citing the fact that farmers often burn off their land for variousreasons. He said the CAA feels wronged in that they will have todeal with urban ordinances in what they consider rural areas.

“A sense of injustice is usually about personal things. Beingcitizen of a town doesn’t excite our justice meter, usually,” saidLyons. “But these people with 40 some-odd acres are farmers, andthat’s where you start getting into how appropriate aremunicipal-type services and legislation in a place that is reallynot urban at all.”

City Attorney Joe Fernald said Friday the city has filed aresponse to the motion.

Based on the original ruling date, the city would have begunservicing the newly annexed areas Saturday. However, objectors’motions for additional time delayed that activity until a finalruling can be made.