Extraterritorial connections allowed under new code changes

The Cottage Grove City Council on Monday adopted an ordinance which amends the City of Cottage Grove Municipal Code regarding annexation standards and procedures for allowing extraterritorial connections.

The extraterritorial connections will provide utility service for properties which are outside city limits, but still in the city’s urban growth boundary (UGB).

Two ordinances were presented to the council on Monday for consideration.

The council had discussed the concept in its Feb. 8 and March 22 meetings and instructed city staff to prepare and present the municipal code change, asking that seven criteria items be included in the ordinance.

Namely, the council requested that: the property must be in the UGB, utility service is adjacent or within 300 feet of the subject property, property owners must sign and record an annexation agreement specific to the property, must pay system development charges for the utility being connected, and the owner must annex when annexation requirements are met or when the city requests annexation.

This ordinance would only allow for extraterritorial connections outside city limits and within the urban growth boundary.

A second ordinance also addresses potential connections beyond the city’s UGB, which would be treated as a land use decision and be subject to appeals through higher agencies.

Staff reported, however, that it has received only one request to connect to the city water system outside the UGB in the past four years and the city council ultimately voted to pass only the first ordinance.

Several locations within the city’s urban growth boundary contain clusters where property owners have asked to connect to the city utilities which run by the incorporated properties.

While most requests have been handled by annexing properties into the city, some requests have been denied.

City staff brought to the council’s attention on Feb. 8 a case in which a property owner is outside city limits, inside the urban growth boundary and has a city waterline adjacent to the property which serves homes on each side of the property.

However, the property could not be annexed as it is not contiguous to the city limits and no provisions in the city’s code allowed for new extraterritorial connections.

City staff reported that the requests to connect to city utilities are frequently due to on-site well or septic failures. Such failures can seriously endanger the life safety and health of the property owner and could become a nuisance to the neighborhood and city if not dealt with.

Allowing for a utility connection, staff reasoned, could maintain the viability of the property and prevent such cases.

The State of Oregon requires all cities to establish urban growth boundaries. The boundaries are meant to prevent urban sprawl by preserving land outside the boundary in its natural state or use it for agriculture.

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