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Proposed Annex Sparks Controversy

Business owner feels targeted by council

INDEPENDENCE -- A local resident is fuming over a proposed annexation of a section of Stryker Road, saying it paves the way for the city to forcibly annex and rezone his land.

Robert Patterson's home and auto-wrecking business sit off northern Stryker Road between Stearman Street and Highway 51. Both his property and the stretch of road are unincorporated.

City officials have has been trying to annex the road since last fall, after discovering it wasn't within city limits but still under Independence's jurisdiction.

Patterson said the city is attempting to create an "island" of his 5.9 acres in order to annex his land.

If the road was annexed, Patterson's property would be encircled by the city; Under Oregon statute, cities have the right to annex "islands" within their boundaries without the consent of the owner.

"They're trying to annex the northern portion of Stryker Road to surround my property and change the zoning from light industrial to residential," he said. "It will basically force my operation out of business.

"I think my biggest problem is...they're trying to use legal clout to force their intentions," Patterson also said. "They have no consideration for people on their property."

An attorney representing Patterson sent city officials a memorandum in opposition of the proposal, stating the city "improperly initiated" annexation proceedings of Stryker Road because the sole intent was to absorb Patterson's land.

City Attorney Richard Rodeman said the city has acted correctly in regard to the road annexation.

"You initiate annexation by an action of the property owner or city," he said. "The city initiated it by describing what needs to be annexed and having the council pass a preliminary initiation motion. That's the legal way to do it."

Rodeman said that the annexation of the road and possible annexation of the property are separate items, and that in the eyes of the law, one has no bearing on the other.

He also said if an argument against the pending road annexation appeared before the Land Use Board of Appeals, information regarding prior annexation reviews or proceedings would likely be dismissed.

The matter is on the agenda for next Tuesday's regular council meeting.

Last year, city council explored annexing several "islands" within city limits, Patterson's property among them.

"The issue then was basically one of city services," City Manager Greg Ellis said. "The council talked about a number of people who were getting tax-payer supported services and not paying taxes to the city."

During the process, it was discovered that Polk County had transferred jurisdiction of Stryker Road to Independence years ago, but that it had never been annexed.

Patterson said he believes the council will vote to annex his property after incorporating the road, then proceed to rezone it, which would impact his business.

"I make my living as an auto wrecker," he said. "In order to keep your license, you have to have your land zoned as light industrial."

Patterson said he thinks the city wants to rezone the property as residential to "force development and get tax revenue."

Ellis said that wasn't the case.

"We're not in the property development business," he said.

Ellis said Patterson's property could appear on the agenda for a future meeting, but that he's heard nothing from the council to indicate a desire to rezone the land.

He said if annexation did happen, Patterson's property wouldn't be a likely candidate for rezoning because his and the acreage south of him between Stryker Road and the railroad tracks are zoned industrial.

"That would stay industrial because we have that under the city comprehensive plan," he said, adding "We've already found that the...best use for that land is industrial."

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