Jefferson County is expected to lose up to $1.5 million in future building permits now that the Windswept Farms subdivision and two commercial properties that were in the county’s portion of Eureka have been annexed into the city of Eureka, said Eric Larson, the Jefferson County director of county services and code enforcement.
The Eureka Board of Aldermen voted 6-0 Sept. 3 to annex the two commercial lots – one of them a 72.5-acre tract that houses Kirkwood Materials West, a sand and gravel quarry, and the other a 75-acre field, both at highways 109 and FF.
On Oct. 1, the Eureka Board of Aldermen voted 6-0 to annex the Windswept Farms subdivision, which is under construction at highways 109, FF and W.
The annexations were voluntary, which means the owners requested that Eureka annex their properties.
No public votes were required for the annexations since no one lived on the properties.
Jefferson County Executive Dennis Gannon said he was disappointed about the annexations.
“I wish we would have been able to keep them in the county,” he said.
Gannon said that while residents in Windswept will now live in Eureka, which primarily is in St. Louis County, they still will be in Jefferson County.
“We still have to provide services to some extent to them,” he said.
For example, the Assessor’s Office and the Collector’s Office will provide services in the area, and the county will provide road maintenance.
Larson said the county will be losing a “couple of hundred thousand dollars” in revenue from future permits from the two commercial lots.
He said the county will miss that revenue.
“Every budget year seems to be a little more challenging,” Larson said. “Sales tax revenues are pretty much flat, so it is definitely revenue we could have used to possibly fund projects or other things.”
Windswept residents will still pay some taxes to Jefferson County, although not the Prop P tax – a 35-cent property tax voters passed last year – since that tax is paid only in the unincorporated parts of the county.
Tim Whitney, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office undersheriff, said the loss of the two commercial lots will cost the office about $700 next year in Prop P revenue.
Whitney said the Windswept Farms development is vacant and currently brings in about $3,200 in Prop P revenue. Once homes are built on the lots, the area would generate more revenue, so the loss could be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Eureka City Administrator Craig Sabo said the 75-acre parcel that was annexed into Eureka is owned by siblings John Howald and Ann Sommer.
Howald said the tract he and his sister own had been passed down from generation to generation in his family, and he had considered asking for it to be annexed into Eureka for about 20 years, with the primary appeal being the city’s Police Department.
Kirkwood Materials West is owned by Hwy. W Land Company LLC. That company reportedly is planning to purchase the Howald tract.
In March, the Jefferson County Council approved a conditional-use permit to allow mining on 64.5 acres of the site, as well as a related request to rezone the remaining 10.5 acres of the southern part of the lot from residential to commercial.
The council, which has the authority to decide land-use issues in unincorporated areas of the county, previously had voted against both requests.
Eureka Mayor Sean Flower said the developers of Windswept subdivision also asked for their tract to be annexed into the city limits.
The subdivision, which calls for the construction of 549 homes, previously did not touch the city’s boundary, a requirement for annexation, but once the other two lots, which are adjacent to the Windswept development, were annexed, that changed.
Flower said he owns six lots in the Windswept development, so he and Fendler Homes were on the list of developers who sought annexation, along with McBride Homes, Consort Homes, and Fischer and Frichtel.
Flower said the developers wanted to be inside the Eureka city limits because it will improve police response times and protect potential homeowners from having to pay the 35-cent Prop P tax for law enforcement.
Residents of the newly annexed subdivisions would pick up Eureka city taxes, but would drop the Prop P taxes.
“It’s as if they sub out their police tax and get all these other services,” Flower said. “It’s kind of a win for everybody, in my opinion.”
He said residents would get city trash rates and residential rates for the Timbers, Eureka’s recreation center, and estimated that the overall annual cost for the new
residents might be approximately $10 more than they have been paying.
Flower said in a Facebook post that utilities would not be extended to the area.
The properties already are served by the Jefferson County Sewer District and that would not change.
Flower said another big annexation is potentially on the horizon.
He said he has heard from many homeowners in the Mirasol subdivision, which is in Jefferson County adjacent to Windswept, who would like to be in the Eureka city limits.
They are also attracted by the services of the Eureka Police Department, he said.
“We are just located in a way that we can give them a lot better police support then what they have (through the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office),” Flower said.
The process to annex Mirasol’s 320 homes would be different since that subdivision already has residents.
Votes would have to be held in both Mirasol and in Eureka to approve the annexation.
Flower said adding Windswept and Mirasol would help Eureka in its effort to attract more business.
“They want to see rooftops,” he said. Flower said he had been working on the annexation projects since around March, before he was elected mayor.
“I’ve always kind of not understood why there is kind of an artificial line at the (Meramec) River,” he said. “In my mind, I was primarily looking at the commercial growth aspect of it.”
Flower also said adding Windswept to Eureka is a good move in case any new St. Louis County and city merger talks come up.
“I believe that this annexation would give Eureka significant new legal rights in any of these future proposals,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “I believe it would be very difficult for a merger to involve Eureka, especially without consent of the residents in both counties. It would be very difficult legally for a merger to dissolve a city in one county, when it has a significant presence in another county.”