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Talent acts to annex properties on Hwy 99

TALENT — A year-long process to annex a patchwork of 14 properties along Highway 99 started Wednesday with City Council approval.

All of the lots are surround ed by land within the city limits or urban growth boundaries. The sites include commercial buildings and residences south of Rapp Road and range from .17 to 2.78 acres in size.

The city and Oregon Department of Transportation plan to upgrade Highway 99 and utilities in the area from Rapp to Creel Road, with work tentatively set for 2015.

"We are getting ready to spend millions of dollars in public investment along Highway 99," said Planning Director Mark Knox, who presented the proposal to the City Council.

"It's a good opportunity to bring them in. We want to see this done under Talent standards," he said.

The City Council would ultimately have to approve the annexations, but that would come only after public hearings, fact-finding, zoning map and jurisdiction agreements and Planning Commission consideration.

Knox estimated the process will take about one year.

Property owners will receive notices in the near future inviting them to a meeting on the proposal. Owners would not pay any of the annexation-process expenses.

The current mix of jurisdictions can lead to confusion, said Knox.

Illogical boundaries sometimes make it difficult for staff to provide efficient services and may result in confusion for owners and service providers.

Criteria that could be used for annexation include being totally surrounded by city land or possible public health problems due to water and sewer issues. Many of the properties have wells.

Businesses are located on most sites, but three residential properties are included. Some of the sites have both houses and businesses. All but two lots are on the east side of the highway.

Among the businesses are Green Valley Pump, A-1 of a Kind Estate Sales, Sunday Afternoons, Snappy Auto Service and a lot across from Jim's Better Buys that previously displayed some of the dealership's vehicles.

Green Valley Pump partner Steve Frey said he will take a wait-and-see approach to the proposal. He owns the property with Richard Kozol.

"At this point I'm just trying to keep my eyes on the issue and find out what all the economic ramifications are," said Frey.

Frey's property has a well, but also is hooked up to city water service.

"For sale down the road, being on city water would be a help," said Frey. "I know they have always kind of been trying to get a gateway into the city. I can see the reasoning of wanting to make the city a little more appealing."

Businesses under county jurisdiction can erect larger signs than those in the city.

Councilman Chris Auer asked what would happen if property owners didn't want to be annexed.

"If they don't want to annex, then the council will have to decide what to do," said Mayor Bill Cecil.

And how did the city manage to surround the sites?

"Things happened 30 to 40 years ago. There's annexations here or there," said Knox. "These thing happen. I think they are inevitable in development."

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.