Typically the monthly comprehensive plan meetings have taken place without much of a fuss. A small group of citizens normally attends and contribute their opinion on various issues as a new plan is put together for Centerville's future.
Such wasn't the case on Monday.
The Centerville City Council chambers, filled to near-capacity with an estimated 40 residents or more, brewed an at times contentious conversation between City Administrator Jason Fraser and various residents. The topic of the discussion was the two-mile extra-territorial zoning being considered by the city's planning and zoning committee, different from the intended purpose of the meeting that night.
A wide swath of residents in the room identified as against the proposal. They said they were residents inside the two-mile zoning radius near Centerville and were business owners, farmers and residents. Questions raised though weren't all that unfamiliar, and many had been posed in other public meetings before.
Some residents seemed to believe the two-mile zoning meant residents in the area would become citizens of Centerville, pay Centerville property taxes, and be subject to various tax increases with the zoning changes. Those allegations netted the same answers as before: that all three of those premonitions were untrue.
The practice of extra-territorial zoning is allowed by Iowa Code Chapter 414.23. The code allows cities to zone unincorporated areas two miles beyond the city's limits, in cases that area isn't already zoned by the county.
The action is simply done by a vote of the city council for the municipality. For legal reasons, that vote is best advised after the planning and zoning commission reviews and ultimately recommends the council take that action.
Fraser told attendees such a vote at the council won't come up until the comprehensive plan is complete and the council received a recommendation from the planning and zoning commission to extend the zoning. That decision is not yet final, and what the two-mile zoning would look like is still in a draft phase.
Nothing in the code would equate to a city's corporate boundaries being moved by that action. Nor is extra-territorial zoning a requirement to ultimately annex. The chapter that handles the zoning extension is a mere four paragraphs long.
Annexation is the process by which a city extends its corporate line. That process is totally separate from zoning, as Fraser has told the Daily Iowegian previously and told attendees again Monday.
In fact, Fraser elaborated further on Monday to attempt to illustrate that annexation of this two-mile area in question wouldn't make sense for the city from a cost perspective.
"We don't have the money for the infrastructure, we don't have the money for the police, everything that goes with that. So that is not part of the plan," Fraser said.
Any annexation the city does would be voluntary annexation, as in, a property owner of property that is contiguous with the city boundaries to ask to be annexed, Fraser said.
During the meeting, one property owner threatened a boycott of any purchases made inside city limits as his only option to prevent the change.
The two-mile zoning will not affect property taxes, as those are based on a property's use not how a property is zoned. The land will also not be assessed city taxes since the land does not become part of the city.
Monday's meeting was meant to discuss land use in the city as part of a broad comprehensive plan meant to guide city leaders into growing the community, using public input over a year's worth of meetings to set priorities.
Nichole Moore, of Chariton Valley Planning and Development, started with a brief presentation, which she was allowed to finish. But the discussion was exclusively about the proposed two-mile zoning ring and not about intended topics like proposed land use categories, environmental framework and principals for "smart growth" for future land use and development.
In reality, the comprehensive plan deals very little with the proposed two-mile territorial zoning. That decision rests solely with the city's planning and zoning commission, and would ultimately be approved by the Centerville City Council if it comes to that.
The comprehensive plan would include the map, if approved, but would deal very little with extra-territorial zoning beyond that. It was estimated that section of the plan would be a couple paragraphs out of a few hundred pages.
The next comprehensive plan meeting is June 11 at 5:30 p.m. at Centerville City Hall, and will be a continuation of land use planning and zoning.
The next planning and zoning commission meeting is eyeing a June 6 date, but an official date and time have not yet been set for that meeting.