The North Bend Eagle

 

Annexation approved

by Nathan Arneal
Published 7/25/18

North Bend’s first annexation in decades became a reality at last Tuesday’s city council meeting, but there may still be more legal wrangling on the horizon.

The council approved the annexation by passing the second option of Ordinance 561 with a 4-0 vote. The approved option includes both annexation areas A and B, which encompasses all of the North Bend Golf Course as well as Frontier Coop and the Pioneer Lake housing development.

Previous coverage:

Map of annexation area

July 5: Legal opposition presented

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

Twenty-three visitors attended the meeting, the sixth and final time the public was allowed to speak and ask questions about the proposed annexation.
Before the vote, Matt Watson, the attorney for Pioneer Lake Homeowners Association, suggested the council vote against annexation.

“I do want to advise the council that the homeowners within the Pioneer Lake Homeowners Association reserve all rights, remedies and recourse based upon what you decide to do tonight,” he said. “What that means is if you decide to annex Pioneer Lake subdivision, they’re reserving the right to file a lawsuit and seek an injunction. And as your (attorney) can tell you, these cases last forever.”

Watson cited the city of Valley’s annexation battle with Ginger Cove, which he said lasted five years before it was finally annexed.

Watson also reiterated the case he made at the July 5 council meeting that the first annexation option was illegal strip annexation because of a piece of land a block wide connects Pioneer Lake to land adjacent to current North Bend city limits in Area A.

Mayor Jeff Kluthe pointed out that the council had the option to annex both areas A and B, which would not be strip annexation. Watson said while he does not represent the golf course, he does not see any basis to annex the golf course, calling it a “money grab.”

NBGC manager Pete Balerud talked about how much the community benefits from the golf course. According to the golf course’s web site, a single membership was $500 in 2018 and $940 with a cart. Balerud said that would have to change to cover the additional taxes that would come with annexation.

“We’ve got a tremendous thing going out there,” Balerud said. “I’m going to have to hang my head if this happens because we’d have no alternative but to raise rates.”

Ken Streff, a member of the planning commission, spoke as well, saying that he might be the only current North Bend resident in the audience. He also brought up the Ginger Cove annexation in Valley, saying in that case the Nebraska Supreme Court made it clear that the Valley city council has a fiscal responsibility to equalize the tax burden and that the residents of Valley were partially subsidizing Ginger Cove. Streff pointed to the $600,000 well North Bend is installing that is partially paid for by taxes that will also benefit Pioneer Lake.

“I think if the residents of North Bend were informed that way, they’d be very for annexing,” Streff said.

City clerk Theresa Busse said the annexation would officially go into effect Aug. 1, 15 days after being passed. Water bills in the annex will be lowered right away. City sales tax in the annex will go into effect Oct. 1 or Jan. 1 depending on how fast paperwork moves through state offices.

In addition to passing the annexation ordinance, the city council also unanimously approved Ordinance 562, which allows Pioneer Lake to keep the gate to its subdivision.

 

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