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Could Lansing become city’s fourth ward?

City, township officials

to talk about annexation

By Tim Ruzek

truzek@postbulletin.com

Austin city leaders plan to begin talks with the Lansing Township Board about a possible annexation of land.

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On Tuesday, City Engineer Jon Erichson recommended that Austin City Council allow staff to see if Lansing Township officials are interested in any type of annexation agreement.

Last week, an ad-hoc committee released results from a recent vote of property owners within a specific area of the township showing 69 percent of those returning ballots favored a community sewer system. About 80 percent of the 209 possible ballots were returned regarding the community sewer system.

Each vote represented one parcel within the area, which gave some property owners who own a lot of land more votes than others.

The city’s $2.95 million sewer system proposal to service the entire area received 104 votes compared to nine for the township’s plan. The ad-hoc committee also voted 12-to-4 in favor of the city’s plan.

The target area runs from the edge of northeast Austin to the Ramsey Dam area on both sides of the Cedar River. The area, which has roughly 135 homes, represents about 23 percent of the township’s tax base.

Looking at the votes, Erichson said, the area had some "hot spots" for the city’s plan, such as the Woodhaven subdivision across the river from River Oaks Golf Course. Woodhaven had 29 of 34 ballots favoring annexation.

The city is requiring land annexation for any property owner wishing to receive city services.

With other spots having a majority against annexation, though, maybe the city needs to look again at other options that could better fit the sections that favor the city’s plan, Erichson said, rather than service the whole area. After last week’s vote count, Lansing Township supervisor Steve Persinger said he thought the overall possible ballots also need to be considered when interpreting the voting results. When figuring 209 possible ballots, just under 50 percent of the residents submitted ballots supporting annexation, he said.

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An orderly annexation would be an agreement between the city and township for certain properties to become part of Austin over a specific period of time. With an annexation, the properties would be taxed by the city and receive all of its services.

A few months ago at a city staff meeting, city department heads indicated the possible annexation made sense and supported the plan, Erichson said. Council member Brian McAlister said the situation could lead to a 4th Ward being created in the city.

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