At a City Council meeting held on Wednesday night, the council voted in favor of approving a reimbursement agreement with Anthem United Perrin Ranch over an annexation project on E. Harney Lane.
Members of the community shuffled out the meeting in disappointment after witnessing an overwhelming 4-to-1-majority vote cast by City Councilmen Alan Nakanishi and Bob Johnson, Mayor Pro Tempore Kuehne and Mayor Mark Chandler.
Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce was the only member sitting on the council who voted in opposition to approving the reimbursement agreement between the developers at Anthem United and City Manager Steve Schwabauer.
Schwabauer introduced the topic on the agenda by letting residents in attendance know that the item on the agenda was not a vote in favor for or against an approval for an annexation project, but instead a reimbursement agreement that would hold Anthem United responsible for the cost of hiring staff and paying research for existing staff in the Department of Community Development.
“If the developer wants to spend the money on the research and it does not cost the city or the taxpayers any money, what is the harm?” Kuehne said.
Director of Community Development Craig Hoffman addressed members in attendance by recognizing the issues as both a contentious and an emotional topic that would draw community members to the meeting.
“Annexation projects can get emotional, but it comes down to whether or not we want to do it or don’t want to do it,” Hoffman said.
The project is set to develop 741 homes and 50 percent of the project is being developed strictly to facilitate a senior housing project.
Local developer Dennis Bennett first pursued the plans for a senior housing complex 12 years ago and was halted due to the housing market crash which led to a recession in 2008.
With the housing market having rebounded in recent years, he felt it fortuitous to revive the project.
As members of the community gave impassioned speeches to the council members expressing their views, many felt that the council members were already made up on the prospect of the housing development.
Susan Rabusin, who grew up on a farming property on the greenbelt, stated that she did not believe that the reimbursement agreement was a bureaucratic formality. Instead, she said that she I believed that this is the first step in annexing the property.
Margret Kaehler, who also attended the meeting, believes that if the council ends up voting in favor of the annexation of the development that it will open the floodgates to more subdivisions in the future.