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Annexation offers residents advantages of city services

More than 20 years ago, the Urban Growth Boundary was established around the City of Forest Grove. The purpose of the UGB is to designate land that would one day become part of the city. Over the years, many property owners annexed themselves to the city; however, there remain nearly 200 properties in the UGB area not currently within the city limits.

Nearly 24 properties in eight locations are entirely surrounded by the city forming islands of un-annexed land. In these areas, where some properties are inside the city limits and others are not, there can be confusion about which jurisdiction should provide urban services, including public safety, water, sewer and storm sewer utilities and road maintenance.

Many of these property owners who are near the city limits believe being annexed means negative change. The Forest Grove City Council would like people to think of annexation as adding to the quality of their property and, perhaps, their life.

The city is offering the following generous incentives to encourage annexations:

• The usual annexation application fee of $3,130 is waived.

• The annexation application is simplified to just a few pages.

• For those properties who elect to hook up to the sanitary sewer, a $1,000 discount will be available.

• For residents along the Sunset Drive Roadway Improvement Project, a low-interest loan program will be available to help with the costs of sewer hook-up.

For property owners along Sunset Drive, these incentives will reduce the cost of annexation and sewer hook-up by 38 percent.

Elsewhere in the UGB, the savings will vary greatly depending on the location and situation surrounding sewer extension.

Sunset Drive is a unique situation because the street and utility upgrade project is underway and construction costs are known. Nearly 50 percent of the property owners along Sunset Drive stopped by the Community Auditorium last Wednesday, June 21, to learn more about the annexation process.

A similar open house meeting is planned for county residents who live within Forest Grove's UGB from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 29, at the Community Auditorium, 1915 Main St.

There are several good reasons to annex to the city.

First, if you are on city water, your water rates will go down by one-third (33 percent).

Second, as improvements and urban utilities are made available, real estate values and marketability will likely increase.

Third, your property taxes will not go to Washington County but will go to the city, where they will have a more direct impact on you personally. You may also participate directly in city government by running for an elected position or serving on the city's boards and commissions.

While there many good reasons to annex, the city acknowledges property owners may have other circumstances to consider.

Ultimately, it is up to each property owner to decide whether or not to annex. The incentive package may help with that decision, but is only offered until Sept. 29, 2006.

If you have questions about annexation, please plan to attend the June 29 open house or call Kerstin Cathcart, senior planner, at 503 992-3226.

Michael Sykes is the city manager of the City of Forest Grove