Bill Could Help Roads Enders’ Case

PATRICK ALEXANDER
The News Guard

Some Roads End residents have welcomed a proposed bill that would outlaw the tactics endorsed by Lincoln City Council to gather annexation consents from the area’s property owners.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) would make it illegal for a city or district to require a property owner to consent to annexation in exchange for continuation of an existing service, such as water.

In August 2010, Lincoln City asserted the right to require such consents from property owners within any portion of the urban growth boundary that Council designates as an annexation target.

A month later, Council designated Roads End as its first annexation target, warning property owners that it would start sending out letters demanding consents in exchange for continued water service in November.

That date was later pushed back to March and, at Council’s Feb. 28 meeting, was pushed back again.

City Manager David Hawker said he recommended the additional extension because the City is still receiving consents from Roads End residents taking advantage of the City’s offer to pay the roughly $100 County recording fee.

“We are very close to achieving the triple majority,” Hawker said, “which would enable the council, at some date, to consider annexation.

Under state law, in order to annex an area by a simple vote of Council, a City must obtain consents from a triple majority — meaning a majority of property owners representing a majority of both total property value and total land area.

By consensus, Council agreed to postpone the start date for sending out demand letters to April 1.

If Thatcher’s bill becomes law, any consents gathered in response to those demand letters would be deemed void.

Thatcher said she was introduced the bill in response to concerns from a constituent but does not recall whether those concerns related to a specific annexation effort.

“We have cities that are coming in and telling folks that you are going to have to agree to annex or we are going to shut your services off,” Thatcher said. “I thought ‘that doesn’t seem right.”

However, Gordon Howard, of the Office of the Legislative Counsel, which acts as attorney for lawmakers in Salem, said the proposed bill was spurred by the Roads End situation.

“This did arise out of some issues in the Roads End area of Lincoln City,” he said. “I can tell you that much.”

Thatcher said that since introducing the bill, HB 3144, she has received a lot of calls from Roads End residents expressing their support.

Gae Linfoot, owner of a property on N.W. 71st Street is one of those who supports the bill and frowns upon the City’s tactics.

“It is just another one of the sleazy tactics that the city is using to pull out all of the stops and force annexation,” Linfoot said.  The issue is about force and bullying tactics, which do not belong in Oregon or the United States.”

Rep. Jean Cowan, whose House district includes Lincoln County, said that if the bill is intended to address the Roads End issue, it would need an amendment recognizing the fact that the City’s 25-year contract to supply water to the area has expired.

“That question really is complicated by the earlier contract that was in place that expired I think some 10 years ago, and the challenges ever since of working that out,” she said, adding: “Those discussions have been going on for a long time,” she said.

Cowan said she feels the Roads End annexation is a local, rather than a state, issue.

Thatcher’s bill is in the early stages of the legislative process, having been assigned to the General Government, Consumer and Small Business Protection Committee, which has yet to decide whether to hold a hearing on the proposal.

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