Mayor to propose Crab Orchard annexation

October 27, 2003|EMILY BURTON

CRAB ORCHARD - Mayor Mike Ramey has big plans for his small town, plans that could expand city limits by 40 to 50 percent.

Ramey said Friday that plans to propose an extension of the city limits westward to the banks of Cedar Creek Lake were being finalized, opening the door for a public annexation vote as early as November.

Ramey said the annexation would move the city limits out to Charlie Boone Road, the William Whitley House and to Cedar Creek Lake.

The proposed annexation would encompass farmland close enough to the new lake and major highways to become a prime area for development in the near future.


"It's largely undeveloped (land), but the potential is there," said Ramey.

The potential for industry and lakeside residential areas is a monetary draw Crab Orchard City Hall has found hard to ignore.

"We're running the city on $125,000, and it's tough, it's tough. You have to watch every little penny," said Ramey.

Future taxes collected from any new industry in the annexed area would help City Hall accomplish other community improvements.

On the city's to-do list is the renovation of several empty lots and abandoned buildings, such as the old theater on Main Street. Ramey said a community center was a possible use for the structurally sound, visually dilapidated theater.

Developers could also benefit from the annexation. Any house outside the city limits is required to have a lagoon sewer system, which requires larger lots and incurs higher costs. However, if the city limits are expanded to include that house and surrounding residential areas, developers can tap on to the city water and sewer system, lowering costs and decreasing lot sizes.

Ramey said the promise of city water and wastewater access was an enticement for new development in the area, but would not swamp Crab Orchard utilities.

"The wastewater system is working at about 50 percent right now, so they can handle it (the annexation)," said Ramey. "We have one of the best water/wastewater managers in the area, John Kuhn."

The annexation must be approved by the voters before taking effect, though Ramey said he hoped citizens would understand the importance of civic progress and vote favorably.

"When I was in here two years ago, everything was at a standstill," said Ramey, "and we're working hard to get things moving again."

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