The City of Manhattan is looking to grow by just more than 28 acres.
The city commission unanimously voted to take the first step toward annexing a plot of land at the intersection of Scenic and Anderson into the city at their Tuesday meeting. The owner, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, requested the annexation to be able to utilize city water and sewer services. The plot is planned to be the site of a new church.
The lot is not adjacent to any city land and by state law the city had to pass a resolution explaining their desire to annex the land to the Riley County Commission for approval before the city can move forward. Should the county commission agree with the annexation of the property, the city can then begin the typical annexation ordinance process.
The city plans to extend water lines west from Blueville Nursery’s property. The church only needed an 8 inch line for their needs, but the city will install a 12 inch line to help take load off their systems and eliminate a lift station that is costly to maintain.
Commissioner Wynn Butler said he had heard concerns that the annexation could lead to further annexations by the city into Riley County.
“I had a person who said they owned an agricultural property next to it and they did not like the idea because they were fearful that the city might annex their property in the future,” Butler said. “They didn’t want that because they didn’t want to pay our tax rate.”
City Manager Ron Fehr said that he doesn’t see a scenario where the city actively pursues any further annexations in that valley unless a similar request is made by a property owner.
“It’s been our history that we only annex property that we were asked to annex,” Fehr said. “So we haven’t taken property against someone’s wishes.”
Fehr added that the county would be able to step in and prevent the city from annexing any property as well.
Mayor Pro Tempore Usha Reddi brought up flooding concerns on the property. City Assistant Director of Community Development Chad Bunger said that while part of the plot is in the floodplain, that part is further back on the property away from the highway. The church is planned to be built out of the flood zone and its floor level will be at least 10 feet higher than the flood line, according to a representative from BG Consultants.
The commission would also look to rezone the plot from an agricultural district to single-family housing, which allows for use by churches. Butler said he was fine with the church’s use, but did express concern that the rezoning could lead to further development in the area.
“I think it would be a mistake to see the city put housing areas out in that direction because of that noise [from Fort Riley]and the way Anderson is,” said Butler.
Bunger also said that the annexation would make the property subject to the city’s flood mitigation regulations, which he said are more strict than Riley County’s currently.
“I was kind of reluctant at first, but if the city has a little bit more control over that area as far as flooding that makes me a little more engaged in that effort once it’s annexed,” Reddi said.
Commissioner Linda Morse also said that she appreciates being approached with a request to join the city, adding that she thinks it’s the best way to grow.
“The perimeter of our community [is]where our future growth is,” said Morse. “It may be a church this time, but I do know I’m really interested in following anything that adds to the flood impact there.”
Now that the resolution is passed, it will be filed with the Board of Riley County Commissioners for their consideration. They have 30 days after they receive the resolution to decide whether or not to allow the annexation.