By Tia Lynn Lecorchick editor
The Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) decided to move forward on drafting a formal note of public concern over an annexation request from the city of Madison for Hallie Duan, owner of Hallie Jane’s Catering in downtown Madison at their June meeting. The note of concern will be issued to the Planning Commission, whose members will decide to approve or deny the annexation request after two public hearings have been conducted. Duan submitted a request for annexation of a one-acre property on Oil Mill Road, currently outside of city limits, but right on the cusp of the city-county line. Duan is seeking to have the property brought within city jurisdiction to meet a green-space requirement for her catering business to add extra parking. According to Monica Callahan, city planner, Duan needs to have a certain amount of green-space in order to have the amount of parking she needs for her business. The BOC was wary of the request out of concern that the one-acre property will eventually be converted into parking lot once annexed into the city. “What is the value to them to have this property annexed?
What does the county stand to lose by having it annexed?” asked Andy Ainslie, chairman of the BOC. Chuck Jarrell, planning and development director for the county, noted that while the annexation request would require the land to remain green-space, ineligible for a rezoning for at least 12 months, there is cause for concern that after the rezoning stipulation passes, the city could allow the property to be used for something other than green-space.
“I think that this county is going to be growing and we need to preserve the green-space that we can, so I would like to protest this,” said Ellen Warren, BOC member. “I would like to see the city live up to their own guidelines.” “There’s not much we can do to stop an annexation,” said Jarrell. “But we can go on record, issuing a formal note of concern to the planning commission for sure.” The BOC charged Jarrell with the task of drafting the notice of concern . But such a notice may not have much impact on the outcome of the annexation request, said Joe Reitman, Madison city attorney. “The city has the right of law to annex a property as long as all the predicate requirements are met,” said Reitman. Part of the predicate requirements involve zoning procedures, said Callahan. In order for the property to become part of the city’s jurisdiction, a zoning action is required to classify the property with the closest comparable zoning category that the land currently has under the county, which is Residential 1 (R1). The corresponding zoning category for the city will be Residential (R). The property will not be eligible for any other type of rezoning for at least 12 months.