Anti-annexation petition aims to halt Sapp plan

A petition can achieve the same results while avoiding a lawsuit.
Wednesday, December 8, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:39 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Boone County residents opposed to a 1,000-acre development of homes, condominiums and a golf course will not sue the city of Columbia over a proposed annexation of the property, said Patrick Cronan, the residents’ lawyer.

Cronan, who said he nonetheless believes such a lawsuit would succeed, said he expects to accomplish the same goals with a petition drive to force an involuntary annexation, which requires more land to touch the city than the current tract has.

Billy Sapp, the project’s developer, wants his tract to be annexed to the city so it can be connected to the city sewer system and receive city services such as police protection.

But such an annexation would be illegal, Cronan said, because Sapp’s property does not meet the requirements of a Missouri law that says annexed tracts must be compact and contiguous to the city.

Cronan does not think the property is compact, which he defines as rectangular.

“The word compact means the same thing in law as it does in life,” Cronan said.

He also said Sapp’s property, which has about a dozen feet touching the city, needs a quarter-mile of contiguous property to qualify for annexation.

He cited a part of the law that prohibits annexation when “the unincorporated area proposed to be annexed is contiguous to the annexing city, town, or village only by…(a) strip of real property less than one-quarter mile in width…”

Boeckmann's perspective

But city attorney Fred Boeckmann has a different view of the law.

“I don’t think it makes sense to say that every frontage needs to be a quarter of a mile wide,” Boeckmann said, citing numerous instances in which properties with less frontage area have been annexed.

Boeckmann said the law was designed to prevent annexation along a city-owned trail or railroad track that extends far from the city. He said he wasn’t sure how such a challenge would turn out in court.

Challenges, challenges

A lack of property adjacent to the city has plagued this development before.

Last month, city officials questioned whether there is enough property along Route WW, which runs through the development, to link the second part of the development to the first and thus to the city.

Sapp’s solution was to ask Daniel and Becky Block, who own property at 5383 E. Highway WW, to join in the petition for annexation.

Bruce Beckett, Sapp’s lawyer, said a second annexation petition will be filed that includes the Blocks. Beckett would not say whether the Blocks received anything for their agreement to join the annexation proposal.

“They joined because we asked them to,” Beckett said.

Zoning for the project will take place in joint meetings between the city and county governments in a new joint procedure that was proposed by Sapp.

At a meeting Monday night, the Columbia City Council instructed city staff to go ahead with the joint meetings.

The Boone County Commission has also approved the process, which will involve joint meetings between the council and the commission and joint meetings between city and county planning and zoning commissions.

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