City Planning Administrator Stacy Gibbens told The Brazil Times the process has begun to annex various areas bordering the city into the corporate limits.
After looking into the current city limits, officials found there were properties landlocked within the limits but not part of the city and other areas which were believed to be in the city, but were not.
"There is a part of the Deer Creek subdivision in the city and part that is not," Gibbens said. "Plus, Forest Park and the golf course are not within the corporate limits."
Both Gibbens and Mayor Ann Bradshaw said a couple of the reasons for wanting to do the annexation are to start squaring up the city limits to reduce confusion about what is in the city and what is in the county, and to include areas currently utilizing city services that are not in the city.
"This has been a long time coming, and I don't know why no one ever looked into it before," Bradshaw said. "There are some parcels split between the city and county and other areas are using infrastructure, like water and sewage, and in most other cities, they have to be incorporated if the city is providing those services to them."
However, Gibbens did admit finances do play a role in the decision to move forward with annexation.
"The additional funding through tax revenue does play a small role," Gibbens told The Brazil Times. "But, we have had businesses discouraged to come to some of the areas we plan to annex because there is no zoning in the county. By annexing those areas into the city, there will be zoning requirements, which make them more attractive for businesses to come here and create more jobs."
While concerns have been expressed by individuals regarding zoning issues on their personal property, Gibbens said the city is willing to work with them.
"We understand some people currently in the county are raising farm animals as extra income or for other means, like 4-H projects, and we are not out to make them change the way they live," she said. "We are willing to work with them since they are not asking to be annexed, and we have the ability to zone them as agricultural so they can keep their animals."
Initially, the city was planning to annex more residential areas into the corporate limits, but decided to hold off on much of it at the current time due to financial concerns.
"We may decide to stagger the annexation of more of the residential areas over the next few years," Gibbens said. "There will still be some residential areas annexed in, but the focus right now is on the industrial areas in hopes to make the city more appealing for businesses to come here."
The city is also aware they have to provide the option for some services to areas that will be annexed which are not currently utilizing city infrastructure.
"We have to offer sewage services within 300 feet of each parcel, but they do not have to necessarily hook up to it if they have a septic system," Gibbens said. "However, the septic system either has to be less than five-years-old or shown that it is in good working condition."
Gibbens added the city does not have to provide water services to all the annexed areas as water sources from wells are allowed within the city limits.
"The one hitch is that if they are using both city and well water, a meter will have to be placed on the property to monitor water usage for the city's records," she said.
There is the potential that future annexed areas could push the city's population above 10,000, which could require the city to provide additional infrastructure and political representation, but would also open the door for other funding sources.
"If the population is more than 10,000, we might have to build a second firehouse for the Brazil City Fire Department and add a couple more council members," Gibbens said. "However, it would also open up the possibility of being able to receive more funding from various grants, which could help the city improve quicker."
Gibbens told The Brazil Times the city is working on sending out notices to all residents and land owners in the proposed areas to be annexed of the city's plans.
"The notices should be going out within the next month or so," she said. "Right now, the schedule is to conduct a public hearing in October as part of three meetings about the annexation, possibly adopt the annexation in November, which would be followed by a 90-day remonstrance period before it can be recorded, which could be as early as February."
The topic of annexation will be addressed during the next meeting of the Common Council of the City of Brazil, set for 7 p.m., Tuesday, in the Council Chambers of City Hall.