A hearing on a voluntary annexation of a new housing development in Denison recently drew criticism from the applicant. The discussion came up as the City Council started the process of annexing more than 11 acres of land just outside city limits along Davy Lane, near FM 131.
The hearings were closed with no action taken, however, the council is expected to return to the item at a future meeting.
Applicant Dale Gouge plans to develop the property into Davy Lane Estates: seven rural-style lots set on multiple acres of land. However, part of the parcel was outside city limits and would need to be annexed to receive city water for three of the lots.
“I want to first say that we didn’t ask for this annexation,” Gouge said. “Really, we were forced into it to get a water meter.”
Under current city rules, Denison is able to provide water to customers outside the city limits for double the normal rate, City Manager Jud Rex said. However, properties that are immediately adjacent to the city must annex into Denison in order to receive these services.
Gouge said he purchased the land for development in November knowing that three of the proposed lots fell within the city. It was only when he went before the Planning and Zoning Commission in January that he learned he needed to annex the other land in order to receive water.
Development Services Director Gabe Reaume said Gouge was not required to annex into the city and it was voluntary in order to draw public services offered by the city. Reaume said as an alternative, Gouge could instead dig wells for the property. In response, Gouge said this was cost prohibitive and isn’t a valid option.
Last week, Gouge went before the Denison Planning and Zoning Commission to request the land be rezoned as planned development for agriculture to allow for some flexibility on building standards and requirements on accessory buildings.
During the council meeting, Rex said the lots would be able to receive city water and trash services, but said that sewer was not immediately available as the nearest line was on the other side of FM 131 and would require an extension to serve the properties. If the line is not extended, Gouge said, he would need to build septic systems on each property at a cost of about $50,000.
“If you don’t stop annexing these areas, just like you are doing, you are going to have thousands of aerobic (septic) systems out there,” Gouge said, adding he and the prospective property owners would likely be willing to assist the city in the costs of laying the line if the option was available.
Among those who spoke during the meeting was Glenn Davis, a prospective buyer of one of the properties. Davis said he was worried that he would need to put in an expensive septic system only for the city to come in and expand sewer service soon after. Staff noted that Davis would not be required to hook up to the city’s system in the event it was extended.
Gouge continued to voice his opposition to the need for an annexation of just three plots, adding that the entire process has slowed down his development. He said he has had trouble with development throughout the process and asked the council to find out “who is telling them (staff) to do these things” with regards to requirements for zoning and development.
Gouge challenged the council members to go out and buy land for development and try to go through the city’s development process. Gouge added he doesn’t think anyone has gone out to look at the land, and that if staff and council did, they would be less stringent in their requirements. In response, Mayor Jared Johnson said city staff had been to the property after he had questions regarding drainage.
Johnson said the length in the annexation time is to protect property owners and is a requirement of the city. He went on to add that the city is willing to listen to ways that it can improve its processes, but noted there are some cases where requirements in law and code are out of his hands.
“We’ve made many significant changes to the city recently by listening to people like you,” Johnson said.
Ultimately, Rex said staff would research the possibility of extending the line, as well as what the costs may be, and have an answer within the next 30 days. He estimated that the line would need to be several hundred feet long. Following the meeting, Rex noted that these expenses are usually covered by the developer in cases of small developments.