Wednesday, June 27, 2012

City manipulated annexation process


On Wednesday, June 20, I attended the Hailey City Council meeting addressing the findings of fact for the Quigley annexation denial.

In all cases of annexation in the past, findings of fact were part of the consent agenda, which is not intended for public comment. It is important to note that at this particular council meeting, the Quigley findings of fact were listed under the Public Hearing section of the agenda. Because of this unusual change, the meeting became a de facto Quigley annexation public hearing.

Since the council had already unanimously denied the annexation, and signing the findings of fact are usually just a formality, very few people were in attendance when they came up for discussion, with the exception of Mr. Hennessy's attorney, who was prepared to argue for more negotiations and urge the council not to sign the findings.

The only discussion that should have been allowed was whether the findings were accurate or inaccurate. If inaccurate, it should have been corrected and signed. They should not have been used to restart negotiations for a previously denied annexation. Unfortunately, Councilwomen Carol Brown and Martha Burke did not see it that way and voted not to sign the document and to give the applicant an extension. Councilman Pat Cooley was not in attendance, and Councilman Don Keirn, much to his credit, voted against the extension, stating that if the applicant wanted to renegotiate at this stage he needed to reapply.

What is particularly disturbing to me is that it is obvious that the system is being manipulated by city staff, and perhaps elected officials, who would like to see this property annexed. Because the agenda was changed to a Public Hearing item, it gave Mr. Hennessy's attorney the opportunity to make an unchallenged sales pitch, and Carol and Martha bought it hook, line and sinker. Although it is difficult to know exactly what is going on, it's obvious that there are backroom discussions occurring between the city and Mr. Hennessy's representatives.

The city is now in a new negotiation with Mr. Hennessy regarding the Quigley annexation, even though it has been through many meetings, during which the public made it clear they were not in favor of the annexation and it was unanimously denied by all council members. It appears the message that the city is sending to future annexation proposals is that you can wait for a denial and then renegotiate afterwards.

Peter Lobb lives in Hailey.

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