City, Ice Fountain District settle annexation dispute

By RAELYNN RICARTE

News staff writer

February 3, 2007

The City of Hood River and Ice Fountain Water District have reached a settlement on the divisive issue of “patchwork” annexation.

The city has agreed to no longer use its ownership of roadways to reach beyond some parcels to incorporate others. Instead, properties folded into the city limits must now be adjacent to tracts already within the municipality’s jurisdiction.

In addition, the city has purchased water lines to the Willow Ponds subdivision, which is located south of May Drive. The cost for the infrastructure and a share of Ice Fountain’s debt service was $101,394.

The municipality has also agreed to take over “islands” left within the annexation grid where services are being duplicated.

“The city heard Ice Fountain’s concerns loud and clear and decided we needed to work together here,” said Bob Francis, city manager. “I think this is good for everyone.”

Mark Beam, manager of Ice Fountain, is also pleased with the settlement. The water service provider entered into arbitration with the city last spring after contesting the annexation of the 33-acre subdivision.

At issue was the city’s plan to extend water lines more than 650 feet to the property of Pasquale Barone. The housing tract between Rocky and Frankton roads was divided into 58 lots, which at that time were undeveloped. The annexation left Rocky Ridge Court, served by Ice Fountain, surrounded by city property. And that meant water lines under two separate jurisdictions would be laid in the same area.

Ice Fountain contended that, with that move, the city had breached its Intergovernmental Agreement. The IGA, signed in 2005, required that outstanding issues be resolved before an annexation took place.

Last March, city officials believed the annexation would become unaffordable if it waited any longer. Since the property owned by Barone was undeveloped, the payoff to Ice Fountain — based on the value of the land — would be much lower.

“We feel very good about this new agreement,” said Beam. “It’s strong and it’s really tightened up the language. This agreement is going to make the city annexation policy go in a direction that’s more responsible and better for the water district.”

Last year, the city paid Ice Fountain $127,578 for infrastructure tied to annexations. The city’s new policy is to require that any landowner signing up for sewer services also agree to come under municipal jurisdiction.

IGAs similar to that between the city and Ice Fountain were also signed with Farmers Irrigation District and West Side Fire District.

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