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Commission recommends annexation despite public concerns

The Idaho Falls Planning and Zoning Commission is recommending to approve the annexation of properties west of Idaho Falls in a 4-3 vote Tuesday night.

The city is hoping to annex 91 acres in Bonneville County west of Idaho Falls, but owners are not happy about it. They say the costs of the annexation, such as new taxes and hooking up to city services, are going to be a financial burden. They also say they moved to the county for a reason, and being annexed into the city would take that away. They see no benefit to becoming part of the city.

“They’re not really providing anything additional once we become annexed,” said Mariann Hilton, a property owner against the annexation. “Our roads going to be the same. In fact, the roads not even being annexed, it’s going to continue to be a county road. And so, there’ll still be this enclave, the city says it’s cleaning up service islands, it’s within the city, county service islands and yet this annexation isn’t doing anything to alleviate that problem.”

The city says some of the properties already use city utilities. And there is no requirement for properties to immediately hook up to city utilities or curb, gutter and sidewalk. They are required to use sanitation services. The city says this is part of an ongoing process of cleaning up county islands that surround the city.

“That reduces what we call service islands where the county has to come into the city to service those areas where we’re already there all around it,” said Brad Cramer, Idaho Falls director of Community Development Services. “So it makes sense, it’s more efficient, it’s more cost effective. And there’s also just some equity issues when it comes to those services and taxation and those sorts of things where next door neighbors are on different playing fields when it comes to both service and the tax rates that they pay.”

The planning and zoning board will make its recommendation to City Council, which will vote on the annexation at a later meeting.

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