Village discussion on annexations

Amid a large audience, Mary Alexander (at podium), who lives on Riverview Lane, discusses issues related to the proposed annexation of her and other residents’ properties near Mahomet during a Tuesday night meeting at the Village of Mahomet building.

MAHOMET — In a study session Tuesday night before a room overflowing with local residents, four out of six Village of Mahomet trustees agreed, in an unofficial vote, to delay until April 23 decisions on multiple planned subdivision annexations.

Village President Sean Widener conducted the “straw poll” or unofficial vote and also agreed to support the delay.

“It’s a straw poll. It’s to let you know where we are,” Widener said about the time a man from the overflow portion of the audience shouted, “This needs rescheduled. We cannot hear.”

The session, with sometimes heated and emotional comments from citizens in attendance, was not scheduled to include official action but was a study session preceding the Tuesday, March 26, trustee meeting, at which village leaders are scheduled to vote on whether to annex Briarcliff, Summit Ridge and multiple portions of Lakeview subdivisions into the Village of Mahomet.

Some residents complained that they have had little notice regarding the proposed annexations and, thus, they said, little time to voice opposition.

Briarcliff and Summit Ridge are “wholly bounded” or surrounded by in-village land, prompting annexation, while Lakeview segments of the proposed annexation tracts are touching village limits on at least one side. Convenants in some of the areas require annexation into the village once that occurs.

The overall annexation action remains on the March 26 agenda, but Widener and trustees present Tuesday night said it will be tabled.

“I think we’d be open to pushing it back,” Widener said before the straw poll to that effect. “This is a great dialogue that we’ve had.”

About 300 people would be affected in the annexations.

In front of trustees Bruce Colravy, Andy Harpst, Donald Lynn and Bill Oliger, with Widener leading the meeting, a crowd of more than 80 residents filled the board meeting room at the village administrative building and overflowed into the foyer. Some even stood outside a window to the room to hear what was being said. Not present were trustees David Johnson and Brian Metzger.

One hot topic related to the annexation of Briarcliff is the addition of a road to serve the subdivision, which residents present at the meeting vehemently opposed. In the first straw poll of the night, Widener and the four trustees present unanimously showed favor for not requiring the road but instead amending the annexation pact. That move brought applause from the audience.

But citizens who spoke up at the meeting oppose the annexations.

“I support Mahomet but the issue is — it’s regulation,” said Margaret White, a Briarcliff resident.

Annexed areas become part of the village and subject to its rules. Widener had pointed out that being inside the boundaries of the Village of Mahomet means that ordinance violations, such as grass that hasn’t been mowed in a resident’s yard, will be handled by the village. Going with that example, White noted that one subdivision resident recently was sick, but neighbors voluntarily mowed that citizen’s yard to help out.

“We are a community. We take care of our neighborhood,” White said.

Residents whose property is annexed into the village may pay increased property taxes estimated at roughly $500 per year for a home valued at approximately $200,000, according to Patrick Brown, village administrator.

That is a point of contention for many.

“I’m not really seeing much of anything that I’m getting in return,” said Billy Sweet, a Briarcliff resident.

Another sticking point for some who live in the areas that may be annexed is the wording in municipal guidelines that not annexing some areas would “impede” the village’s growth or access.

“We do not impede anything,” said Richard Eardley, who lives on Karadan Drive in the Summit Ridge subdivison, calling the village plans “forced annexation.”

“Divide in the community will be stronger and last longer” if the village annexes the areas as proposed, he said. “Those properties are built to be in the county ... that’s where they should remain.

“We’re taxed enough already,” Eardley added. “Is it right to alter people’s lives like this?”

Some of those who spoke to the trustees noted that they did not cast ballots for the current village leadership but, with annexation, will be represented by them.

“We did not vote for any of you,” Eardley said.

Widener moderated the discussion as resident after resident spoke up. Topics discussed also included the lifestyle that comes with living outside village limits in more rural areas, and the satisfaction that some expressed with current services, such as snow removal, from the county. More than half of those attending the meeting were from Briarcliff, with others from Summit Ridge and Lakeview.

Multiple people voiced concerns that they may not be able to stay in their homes or may have trouble selling their homes with the increase in taxes that comes with annexation.

The village president pointed out that approximately 8,400 people live in the Village of Mahomet, but the town serves up to 15,000 when those living nearby in unincorporated areas are included in the count, calling that the “functional population” of the area.

“At the end of the day, we have to look out for the entire village,” Widener said. “It’s tough.”

But the village president said Mahomet is growing, and the village’s continued expansion is the envy of many similarly sized communities.

“People are choosing to live here,” he said.