Columbia’s annexation of the Boone County Jail and about 150 acres of surrounding county-owned land will create a domino effect that will eventually bring even more northern property into the city, officials say.
The deal, approved by the City Council last Monday, will also bring city sewer service to Gaslight Acres, a subdivision in the county whose residents have refused voluntary annexation, and to Boone Industrial Park. County officials also hope the arrangement will prompt the city to extend bus service to the jail area.
The county-owned land, which includes not only the jail but also Reality House, the Juvenile Justice Center and property leased for training by the Boone County Fire Protection District, will remain under county law enforcement and regulations, but the city will be in charge of sewer lines, utilities and road repair, said Keith Schnarre, Boone County presiding commissioner.
Schnarre said the annexation agreement is similar to the arrangement at Columbia Regional Airport, which is owned, operated and governed by the city but remains in unincorporated county territory.
City officials like the arrangement because it will lead to further annexations. “This opens up the northeast part of the city so that other areas become contiguous and can voluntarily annex,” City Manager Ray Beck said at the council meeting.
Some of the properties to the north are already under pre-annexation agreements, “so this creates a domino effect,” said Skip Elkin, Boone County Southern District commissioner.
The agreement also includes the right of way of Highway 63, which allows the city to annex land east of the highway, Assistant City Manager Bill Watkins told the council.
The annexation, however, came with strings attached.
In a separate bill approved with the annexation, the city council authorized paying $5,237 to buy the sewage-treatment pump at Boone Industrial Park and the right to serve Boone County Regional Sewer District customers at the park. The sewer district will then close the treatment pump, and the city will allow area customers to hook up to its Cow Branch sewer line.
The arrangement also requires the sewer district to close the lagoon serving Gaslight Acres. The city, in turn, will extend the Cow Branch sewer line and allow Gaslight Acres residents to connect to it without being annexed.
Columbia has traditionally required voluntary annexation before allowing anyone to tap into its sewer service. In this instance, however, the city and county worked together to eliminate facilities that have been causing problems, including two discharge points into Cow Branch creek.
Elkin said the idea was to make “sewer available to the areas that really have the trouble, now.”
“We’re cleaning up the creek when we take out the lagoon,” Second Ward Councilman Chris Janku said. “There was a lot of good done between the county and city that doesn’t often get the publicity it should.”
Also as part of the agreement, Elkin said county commissioners stipulated that the city at least look into the possibility of extending bus service to the county land that was annexed. “We asked (the city) to investigate the feasibility to provide transportation to the property — the jail and the Reality House,” he said.
The city council zoned the land M-1, general industrial, which is similar to the county zoning that was in place.