February 08, 2002 11:00 pm

By Bill Rautenstrauch

For the Observer

JOSEPH Zoning and annexation ordinances were topics of discussion at a meeting of the Joseph City Council this week.

But there will be further meetings before the issues are settled.

The council is in the process of revising its zoning ordinance and is considering eliminating Article 9, on annexation. The city instead would adopt a separate annexation ordinance.

The council took no vote on annexation laws this week but scheduled a workshop on the issue for Feb. 19.

There is a proposal to follow the states annexation law, which allows a city to annex any area within the urban growth boundary in which all the residents request annexation in writing.

Council members and citizens expressed reservations about adoption of the state ordinance. Objections centered on the possibility that the public could be deprived of public hearings on annexation issues, and the possibility that taxpayers might assume an unfair burden in paying for city services to the annexed areas.

The way I read it, its cutting out other people in the town, and theres nothing about water, sewer and roads, said Joseph property owner Roger Zollman.

Even stronger opposition was expressed in writing by Joseph resident Donna Bronson. She sent a letter to the council because she was unable to attend the meeting.

We dont need outside government telling us what to do with our property. Keep Article 9, she urged. The council received a similar letter from Edna Roundy.

Local attorney Rahn Hostetter cautioned the city that in any case it has an obligation to provide services to residents.

Cities and counties dont have the power to say theyre not providing services to people on the land. They can do that only through a moratorium, Hostetter said.

Mayor Max Prout said his major concern was to ensure public hearings are held on any annexation issue. The state law allows but does not require a hearing, he said.

I feel we should always have a hearing, and also keep the option of putting it (annexation) to the voters, Prout said.

Councilor Pam Latta said, I agree with the mayor. I dont have a problem with making a separate ordinance, but why are we relying on a state law when we can tailor a law to meet our needs? Article 9 does allow for the process to be put to a vote, she said.

Others leaned toward writing portions of the state annexation code into the citys ordinance, rather than adopting state law outright.

Councilor Tim Nitz suggested the city could write and adopt an ordinance like the states, making changes to suit local needs.

The language of the state ordinance is tried and proven, while the language of the citys ordinance is not, Nitz said. We can adopt any ordinance we want to. We can write an ordinance thats modeled on the state statute but modify it.

In November the council voted to take Article 9 out of the zoning ordinance and use the state annexation law. The following month, however, the council decided the matter needed further review.

We are still soliciting public

comment, Latta stressed after the meeting.