A request to de-annex a parcel of land on the outskirts of the city was denied by Delta City Council Nov. 20.
The parcel is one of three annexed to the city in 2006 at the request of property owner Jack Petrucelli. He anticipated a large, 260-lot subdivision known as Riverwalk to be built off 1600 Road, across from the Emerald Hills subdivision.
The recession hit, plans for a subdivision were dropped, and the land has lain fallow. The city provides no services.
"The annexation has not worked for the city and it has not worked for us," Petrucelli said.
A potential buyer has expressed a desire to purchase a portion of the land to farm and raise goats. Mike Watson and his wife told council members they would also like to build a house fronting the Uncompahgre River. But according to the pre-annexation agreement, they must connect to city water and sewer. That would require a long service line from the water and sewer lines serving Emerald Hills. To avoid the additional expense --
estimated at $50,000 -- Petrucelli requested disconnection from the city.
The current R2 zone, for residential housing, is also inconsistent with the Watsons' plans.
Attorney Michael Hockersmith, representing the applicants, pointed out that the city won't be out any property tax or utility fees if the property is de-annexed. Disconnection would actually serve city interests by protecting ag land and conserving open space, stated goals of the city's master plan.
Petrucelli added that the Watsons want to purchase -- and disconnect -- only the least developable portions of the property, leaving over 200 lots within city boundaries that could be developed in the future.
As an alternative to de-annexation, city manager David Torgler said the applicants could request a change in zoning that reflects the agricultural use of the land. And if expense is an issue, the Watsons could ask the city to declare a hardship and waive the portion of the municipal code that requires hooking up to city water and sewer.
"So basically they can do everything they want to do and stay in the city," Torgler said.
Although disconnections have been approved in the past on a limited basis, council members believe favorable action spawns even more requests for de-annexation and jeopardizes the
Councilmember Christopher Ryan urged the applicants to work with city staff to find solutions, but voted to deny the application. Only council member Kevin Carlson was in favor of disconnection.