More on HF 2376 severance/annexation bill
by Gary Taylor
HF 2376 arises out of a very specific situation in Black Hawk County, concerning land around the Highway 58/Highway 20 interchange. The land was annexed into Hudson a number of years ago, but as Cedar Falls has grown toward the interchange several of the landowners have had second thoughts and want to go to Cedar Falls for access to infrastructure for development. My understanding is that this has been a VERY longstanding contentious issue. A petition is before the City Development Board currently.
The bill allows a landowner or (contiguous) landowners within the boundaries of one city to file a petition for severance with the city council if the landowner’s property would be eligible for annexation by a different city if severed (presumably this means if the property in question borders the other city). The landowner must also file a petition for annexation with the other city. The proposed severance/annexation must not create an island. If both cities approve, the petition goes to the City Development Board for a hearing. As part of the severance/annexation, the cities may negotiate an agreement to share property tax revenues for a period not to exceed forty years, and to transition zoning regulations within ten years. The City Development Board must approve both the severance/annexation and any tax-base sharing/zoning agreement that has been negotiated. The City Development Board is not allowed to modify the terms of the severance/annexation. The City Development Board’s approval is not subject to election.
The section concerning the tax-base sharing agreement contains this interesting provision:
An agreement may include additional transition provisions relating to the transfer or sharing of property tax revenues for property outside the boundaries of the territory described in the petition and any other provisions deemed by the cities to be in the public interest if such actions are within the authority of the cities.
This provision would seem to open the door to some interesting agreements authored by creative municipal attorneys. A few years ago I wrote a paper with two colleagues at Michigan State about Michigan’s annexation/tax base sharing law (PA 425), and the problems it has caused from a planning perspective. Like HF 2376, Michigan’s PA 425 was written with a very specific object in mind: to allow the city of Flint and the neighboring township to negotiate for land and infrastructure to accommodate a General Motors auto assembly plant. Granted, the Michigan law differs from HF 2376 in many ways, but no one at the time (1984) foresaw all the creative ways PA 425 would be utilized beyond the Flint agreement. In the case of HF 2376 it would take a severance/annexation situation to trigger the cities’ agreement-making authority, but if such a situation were to occur (or be manufactured) the range of possibilities is intriguing.