Fear of being annexed by the city of Columbia prompted Pierpont residents to meet with county officials Monday night to discuss the possibility of becoming a village or a town.
More than 30 Pierpont residents attended the meeting, and almost half voted to continue discussing incorporation, which would prevent the city from annexing them. Only five voted against the measure.
“I would move, rather than go back into the city,” resident Bud Frew said.
Joy Rissmiller, who was born and raised in the Pierpont area, voted to learn more about incorporation. Rissmiller said she wanted to hear all of the possibilities because she sees annexation as a likely possibility.
“Some big developers have bought property around us, and these are developers that want to be incorporated into the city,” she said.
Discussions are still in the preliminary phase, and residents are unsure whether they will form a town or a village, said commissioner Karen Miller.
If the residents choose to incorporate, current taxes, state road maintenance, property values, fire and sheriff services would not be affected.
But for the roughly 100 people who live in the Pierpont area, becoming a village or a town involves a myriad of considerations.
The cost of holding separate elections as a village or town would depend on the population, said Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren. Towns with populations around 100, such as Hartsburg, pay $120 for their elections.
Furthermore, residents would need to establish their own planning and zoning ordinances.
“You won’t have (county) ordinances or regulations if you become incorporated. Huntsdale found that out the hard way,” Planning and Zoning official Stan Shawver said.
State roads would be maintained as usual, but county roads would become the responsibility of Pierpont. Columbia Public Works official David Mink pointed out that snow removal, signs, speed limit issues and further improvements on some roads would all be costly.
And unless the Pierpont adopted certain ordinances, the county’s health department would not do any inspections because such inspections would fall under the jurisdiction of the state’s health department.
Legal fees involved in contracting out services, setting boundaries and putting together incorporation papers are also under consideration.
Pierpont resident Justin John said incorporation would be less costly than being annexed by Columbia.
“All they have to do is send us a tax bill,” John said. “Why wouldn’t Columbia want us?”
Their efforts were spurred on by news reports about the city’s proposal to annex land that would make Pierpont, currently nestled amid Rock Bridge State Park, contiguous to the city of Columbia and open to annexation.
That proposal was turned down by the Department of Natural Resources.