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Decatur business owners concerned about annexation plan

By Brian Knox | Published Wednesday, May 17, 2017
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At least a couple of property owners of land identified for annexation by the city of Decatur expressed concerns at Monday’s council meeting.

The council held a public hearing for each of the 14 tracts of property that make up part of five “enclaves” the city has identified for involuntary annexation into the city.

Two property owners spoke during the public hearing.

Chris Fernihough, who owns property at 2601 S. U.S. 81/287, said he was concerned about connecting to the city’s water and sewer systems. He said that he has invested $40,000 into two wells and septic systems on the property, but he’s concerned that the city will require him to tie into the city’s system.

“My understanding is if they go out, I’m not allowed to fix them,” he said. “Y’all force me at that point to tie into your city water. And at that point, I have the understanding that all y’all have to do is bring the water to my property line. That would be the back of my property, which is at the high school. There is no way I can get enough money to pull water and sewer 1,200 feet to my building, which is what the city is asking me to do.”

Fernihough also said he was concerned about losing a fireworks business on his property, since the sale of fireworks is prohibited in the city limits. He explained that the revenue he is able to generate out of the fireworks business helps to support his other business on the property, Total Lawn Care and Wise Outdoor Power.

At a workshop last week, city staff and city council discussed the issue of the fireworks stand and suggested possibly allowing the sale of fireworks for an interim period, possibly through next January so that the sale of current stock could be completed.

Attorney Zachary Renfro also spoke on behalf of Fernihough regarding the fireworks issue. He provided the council with an agreement between Parker County and the city of Reno dealing with a similar issue regarding the sale of fireworks in the city. Renfro explained that the Reno fireworks business was allowed to operate for a 10-year period with two 10-year renewal periods.

He asked the council to consider a similar agreement with Fernihough.

“It’s been in existence, been no problem, it’s in a commercial area – I can’t imagine that continuing to sell fireworks there would create a problem,” Renfro said. “It doesn’t create a risk to the health, safety and welfare of the community, so I’m asking the city to consider something like the Reno agreement I passed out.”

Mickey McMaster with McMaster New Holland also brought up concerns about the costs of connecting to the city’s water and sewer utilities.

“The piece of property, there’s no way to access city water and sewer,” McMaster said. “We’d have to go through other people’s property, we’d have to get easements. We’d like the council to look at that because most of the properties the city is looking to annex have sewer and water to the property line except for our piece of property.”

The council will have a second public hearing on the involuntary annexation of the 14 tracts at the May 22 council meeting. The council is scheduled to hold the first reading of the annexation ordinances on June 12 with a second reading and adoption of the ordinances at the June 26 council meeting.

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