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A La Crescent city official says the city is trying to make the annexation process as “flexible as we can for the property owners” along County Road 6.

City attorney Skip Wieser, speaking at Monday’s city council meeting, said city staff and the city engineer are looking at “different alternatives” to help property owners.

Wieser didn’t give many details but referred to the 10-year window the city is giving the 47 affected property owners to voluntarily annex to the city. After that period, the city council will have to decide if it wants to forcibly annex any property owners who have not petitioned for annexation.

But the council will have some options, such as allowing property owners to only connect to sewer, rather than both sewer and water, said city administration Bill Waller. Property owners with new wells or septic systems also could be given a longer period before they face forcible annexation.

Annexation to the city usually means property owners must connect to both city sewer and water.

The estimated cost of connecting to the two services for the affected County Road 6 residents is $27,000 each and that excludes another roughly $3,000 property owners will have to pay to connect services from the boundary of their properties to their homes.

The County Road 6 annexation project is happening because the city is running water and sewer along the route to the proposed Horse Track Meadows residential development. At Monday’s council meeting, the council voted 4-1 in favor of a preliminary plat for the project. Council member Bernie Buehler provided the only vote against the proposal.

He said he voted against the plat to avoid giving the impression that the project was already a “slam dunk.” A vote on the final plat is expected in July or August.

Several residents raised concerns about the project at Monday’s meeting. The development is expected to include up to 75 lots and a 48-unit apartment building. One of the concerns raised was the impact on traffic the new development will create.

Council member Brian Krenz said the intersection of County Road 6 and 25 already is “very unsafe.”

Wieser noted that the intersection was under the county’s jurisdiction and he said county officials will review the plan for the development and its impact on traffic.

However, Mayor Mike Poellinger said the traffic the development would create would likely fall under the threshold for major improvements and he understood the county was not considering putting in turn lanes for the exit to the development.

Council member Dale Williams said developer Mike Sexauer was “taking a piece of property nobody else could make work” by developing the former racetrack property, which is now being called Horse Track Meadows. Williams and other council members see the development as a rare and vital opportunity to expand La Crescent’s tax base.

Also at Monday’s council meeting, the council voted in favor of a final plat for the La Crescent Area Event Center, hotel and Veterans Park project. The plat includes plans for new parking to cater to the new developments, with construction expected to start in the summer. Concerns raised by residents of nearby Park Street were taken into account in the plat, with some trees and green space preserved to act as a buffer between homes and the development.

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Coulee Courier and Houston County News editor

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