MADISON — A highly contentious issue has reached the court system.
The City of Norfolk recently had a complaint filed against it regarding annexation, which was passed by the Norfolk City Council on Oct. 4 during a final reading.
The complaint was filed Oct. 13 on behalf of Leon “Pete” and Portia Becker, citizens and property owners. The plaintiffs are alleging that, as a result of the ordinance, their property is being unlawfully annexed into the city. Subsequently, Becker has filed a restraining order that would prohibit the ordinance from taking effect.
“The plaintiffs have a personal, pecuniary and legal interest in these proceedings because they own property which will be illegally and unlawfully annexed to the city,” the complaint reads. “… Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm by the city’s unlawful annexation unless the court intervenes.”
The filing also requested for a district judge to order an injunction of the ordinance and a trial that would make the potential injunction permanent.
Becker is represented by George Moyer Jr. of Madison, and the City of Norfolk is represented by Danielle Myers-Noelle, Norfolk city attorney.
Moyer noted in the complaint that the plan for extending city services to the proposed annexed area failed to: sufficiently detail the estimated cost impact of providing services to the land to be annexed; adequately state the manner in which the city plans to finance the extension of services; and describe how any services already provided to the land will be maintained.
Furthermore, the plaintiffs alleged that the ordinance “is void and of no force and effect due to the City’s failure to give proper notice of the planning commission meeting, the city council public hearing and the absence of a compliant plan for extending city services to the areas annexed.”
Myers-Noelle expressed optimism that the steps taken toward annexation and its subsequent passing would be approved by a judge.
“We don’t find this challenge to have merit,” she said of the complaint. “We’re confident that this annexation will be upheld and that the City will be able to show, once again, that such was accomplished in a legal and fair manner.”
Bryan Meismer, a district judge of the 6th Judicial District, is presiding over the case. Meismer will determine the date of a hearing once he has reviewed briefs from both the plaintiffs and defendants.
The annexation is divided into 25 segments, many of which include several lots, and are located north, south, east and west of the city. It was approved by the council.
Barring an injunction of the annexation, city utility services will be extended where they are not already present and police and fire services also will be available.
With the exception of the airport section, every new addition to the city would be within 2.5 miles of a fire station.
The Norfolk City Council passed the annexation by a 5-0 vote on Oct. 4. The Norfolk Planning Commission had voted unanimously to approve the annexation on Aug. 17.
Mayor Josh Moenning has said that there are several reasons for approving annexations, stating that it will keep the community “viable and attractive.”