Annexation...and the price you will pay!
Annexation is the legal term for transitioning control of a parcel of land from one political body to another. For a legal transfer to occur, the political body seeking to annex the land must have jurisdiction of land immediately adjacent to the parcel it is trying to annex. Contiguity is the term used to describe the physical relationship of adjoining parcels in an annexation process.
Any parcel of land that is annexed by the City of Boulder, from unincorporated Boulder, must therefore share a common physical border. Further, Colorado law requires at least 1/6th of the perimeter of the parcel being annexed must be contiguous with a City controlled parcel. A parcel being annexed must also have the consent of the property owner. This is where it becomes interesting. The City requires the County to grant permission for a parcel of Open Space to be annexed for the City to have the required contiguity to lawfully annex the parcel it seeks to develop in Twin Lakes. The problem is, historically, the County has NEVER allowed Open Space to be annexed to enable development.
To wiggle around the inconvenient realities of the historical precedent and stated policy of not annexing Open Space, the Boulder County Commissioners have begun trying to characterize one small parcel of the Twin Lakes Open Space as a "Trail Corridor"...that is, they want you to believe it is not "real" open space. The problem is, the County attorneys have already established in legal opinions shared with TLAG that the land is in fact Open Space. If this is true, it would be the first time the County violates its internal policy of not annexing open space.
The County Commissioners argued forcefully that the parcel required to create contiguity is a "trail corridor." The problem with this approach that they didn't anticipate is when the Twin Lakes Homeowners Association gave the land to the County in 1977, it restricted the deed to say it must be used as open space or the County must give it back. In September, 2016 the HOA asked for the land back...and the County has refused. And herein lies the challenge...the County Commissioners are talking out of both sides of their mouths and trying to pull a fast one on Twin Lakes to serve their own selfish goals.
The City and County contend none of this matters because they could annex right up the middle of Twin Lakes Road instead of across the County Open Space. This creates its own set of problems for the City. First, per City has intentionally avoided this strategy for years. Second, state law would require an affirmative vote accepting annexation of all property owners along the roadway. Given the expense to homeowners and new regulations they would have to comply with, it is highly unlikely any unincorporated homeowner would vote to join the City through annexation.
City annexation would be bad for Boulder County residents. There would be no improvement in services and the expenses and burdensome new rules would be crippling. First, residents would have to work with the City's far more restrictive building and zoning code and permitting process for any home improvement projects they wished to make. Purchases of big-ticket items like appliances, building supplies and automobiles would be taxed at a rate 77% higher than that paid by County residents. Further still, residents would be burdened with significant multi-year City annexation assessments that would cause financial hardship for many. The impacts of the assessments and increased sales taxes are illustrated below:
Considerable new costs for homeowners!
When a residence is annexed into a city, there are considerable costs to the homeowner. The City gets to decide what they think is appropriate to charge homeowners to bring the community up to the specifications of the City for features like sidewalks, utilities and other services. The City also gets to arbitrarily define a cost for transitioning from policing by the Sheriff's Department to City Police. These homeowner burdens can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars spread over a multi-year "catch up period." In the event of any property in Gunbarrel, the costs will far exceed any benefit to residents are we are already on City water and sewer and we enjoy exceptional service from Boulder Rural Fire and Boulder County Sheriff's Department.
Residents annexed into the City also have to pay a near doubling of sales and use taxes. For a motor vehicle, as demonstrated below, the impact of the increases are significant. And this is a genie that can never be put back in the bottle.
Mercedes S-Class - $125,000
- Boulder County Tax - 4.985% x $125,000 = $6,231
- If Annexed, City Taxes - 8.845% x $125,000 = $11,056
- IF ANNEXED INTO THE CITY, YOU WOULD PAY $4,825 MORE IN TAXES EVERY TIME YOU PURCHASE A LUXURY VEHICLE!
Toyota Highlander - $37,000
- Boulder County Tax - 4.985% x $37,000 = $1,844
- If Annexed, City Taxes - 8.845% x $125,000 = $3,273
IF ANNEXED INTO THE CITY, YOU WOULD PAY $1,429 MORE IN TAXES EVERY TIME YOU PURCHASE A NEW MID-RANGE VEHICLE!