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Posted on: July 26, 2017

City approves voluntary annexation; Zoning action tabled until full council can vote

By Brian Knox | Wise County Messenger


The city limits of Decatur are expanding once again following the approval of a voluntary annexation request of 163 acres of land southeast of the city.


The city council Monday voted unanimously to annex the land, located north of Farm Road 2264 and east of U.S. 81/287. The petition for voluntary annexation was brought by Jody Adams on behalf of the Wise County Consortium LLC.


The consortium hopes to attract industrial companies to the property, which is located next to an existing industrial park within the city.


Local property owners in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction near the newly-annexed property have expressed concerns at previous public hearings held by the council and the city’s planning and zoning commission.


The city’s planning and zoning commission last month recommended annexing the property and amending the land use map to industrial. However, the commission voted 3-2 to recommend denying the request to zone the property heavy industrial after hearing nearby residents’ concerns about possible noise, light, air and water pollution that could be associated with industrial use of the property.


Mayor Martin Woodruff on Monday sought to address those concerns by emphasizing the positive effects industry would bring to the city.


He pointed out his personal history of working for Poco Graphite for 20 years and how much the company has contributed to the area.


“They came here in 1969, and they came here because we had the location configured in just exactly what they were looking for,” he said. “I am pretty sure some immediate residential neighbors weren’t real thrilled to see a manufacturing plant start up in the location they did, but as it’s turned out 40-plus years later, it turned out to be a very successful and important thing for the future of this city. It quickly became the largest employer in the city and the largest property tax payer and still is the largest property tax payer in the city.”


Woodruff pointed out the last time a new industrial property came to Decatur was in 2004.


“As you can see, these opportunities don’t come along very often,” he said. “Sometimes it can be 10 to 15 years in between. We are now faced with another excellent opportunity to expand the industrial base of this city and bring about jobs. I’m talking about decent employment, good prospects as we already have at Poco Graphite, Landmark Fabrication and other companies that have located in the Decatur area although not necessarily in the city limits of Decatur.”


Council member Mike McQuiston also mentioned his previous employment at Poco and the positive effects it and other industrial companies can have on the area.


“That’s what got me to Decatur was that job at Poco Graphite, so I know that from a personal standpoint it makes a difference having opportunities within a city to bring people in,” he said. “I also know that it is important to have a good tax base in order to have a great school system to continue to attract people to the community. We are really fortunate and blessed to live in a wonderful area, and I think it is a good opportunity as well.”


In addition to approving the annexation, the council also approved updating the land use map for the property to industrial.


The council tabled action on zoning the property as heavy industrial. Because the planning and zoning commission recommended denial of the zoning request, it takes a supermajority vote of three-fourths of the city council to overrule the recommendation. With one council member absent Monday, the supermajority vote was not possible.


View original Wise County Messenger Article.

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