The Islands Of Sioux Falls

With over 75 square miles of city limits, Sioux Falls is spreading out over a large area as new residential and commercial developments take shape.

Because of that growth, rural areas and neighborhoods that used to be well outside of town are now on the edge or completely surrounded.

Drive around Sioux Falls and they’re hard to miss. City officials like Public Works Director Mark Cotter and Planning Director Mike Cooper call them “islands.”

“These islands have been almost completely surrounded or are completely surrounded by city development. In some cases they’re adjacent to improved streets and in some cases they’re already using city services,” Cooper said.

There are roughly 50 areas of land inside the physical boundaries of Sioux Falls that aren’t a part of the city.  A committee has identified a top five to be annexed in the near future. That includes the Reiter property at 57th Street and Bahnson Avenue and the Hayes property at 69th Street and Southeastern Avenue.

“In many cases these rural subdivisions, they started sometimes 30 and 40 years ago with the intent that they wanted to live out in the country. And that was at the time probably miles from the edge of town,” Cotter said. 

Jenny Diede lives in one of the five areas highlighted, the Prairie Meadows subdivision near 41st Street and Ellis Road. Her family along with about 70 other homeowners in the area will have to split the bill that comes along with annexation. In some cases, the amount ranges from $10,000 to $60,000.

“It’s a lot of money,” Diede said.

Holsen: Is that something you want to have happen?
Diede: No, not exactly. We like feeling like we’re in the country.

With annexation, landowners gain voting privileges along with city services like police and fire protection, sanitary sewer, street maintenance, and water and drainage improvements to name a few.

While the city can annex land without the property-owners approval, officials are trying to communicate with residents or land-owners ahead of time to find out concerns and come to what’s called a pre-annexation agreement.

“All that’s a lot of change. All that takes time. We can respect that but we can’t start soon enough with some of these because in some cases there’s 60-70 houses in these rural subdivisions. That’s a lot of people to reach and educate on the process,” Cotter said.

Higher tax bills are a concern for people like Diede. As for the costs of annexation, those assessments wouldn’t be made until after infrastructure work is completed a few years down the road. After that, property-owners would have up to 20 years to pay off their amounts.

“It’s good that it’s growing but I know like some of the neighbors have been here since the development. They didn’t pay that much for their house even or their land or anything like that. So they’re very disappointed,” Diede said.

Right now all five areas, including the Kappenman property at 26th Street and Highway 11 and a property at 85th Street and Tallgrass Avenue, are talking with the city and trying to come up with a plan. If one isn’t reached, the city can move ahead on its own.

“That’s kind of the last resort that we would have as an option. It hasn’t happened yet. We’ve done that in the past. Historically the city has gone out and initiated the annexation of larger tracts of land. With ones that we’re working on now, so far, we have not had to take that route but that still could be a possibility going forward,” Cooper said.

Cooper says years ago, the city put together agreements with Lincoln and Minnehaha Counties to put limitations on how rural residential developments could pop up in the future. Those agreements should help officials and property-owners avoid these issues in the future.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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