Annexation is the future of Murray City just not now, was the message City Council members sent Tuesday.
Although the council voted 4 to 1 to oppose annexation of 645 acres near Bennion, council members sent a seemingly ironic but unanimous message that they favor growth."I oppose this particular annexation but I don't oppose growth in general," Council member P. Gary Ferrero told those attending the public hearing at Hillcrest Junior High.
"In the future, you will be looking at wall-to-wall cities (in the Salt Lake Valley). Annexation needs to be worked out."
All council members joined Ferrero in his encouragement of future annexation attempts. They pointed to unresolved problems with the Murray and Granite school districts as the primary reason for the rejection of the Taylorville-Bennion annexation effort.
"No one was satisfied with the school districts," said Ferraro. He complained that details on how the annexation would affect schools were too late coming.
The city was considering two separate petitions to annex a parcel from 53rd South to the West Jordan boundary and west to Redwood Road.
Murray School officials reported to about 75 attending the hearing that annexation would mean:
-Moving Horizon and Grant elementary schools to year-round schedules.
-Busing 665 kindergarten-to-12th-grade students.
-Hiring 25 additional teachers.
-Spending $300,000 to air condition Grant and purchase two additional buses.
If the annexation had been approved, Granite School District could have been forced to close one of its schools because 665 students living in the area would have to be transferred to Murray School District.
Approximately 2,600 people live in the proposed annexation areas.
In opposing the annexation, several council members expressed frustration with the negative "labels" that had been attached to the annexation effort.
The annexation would have included a retail-office complex proposed by the Estes Co. "This was not an effort to steal a tax base," said Ferraro. "Estes Co. came to us for annexation."
Council member Julie L. Davis denied allegations that the Murray Council are "east-side elitists" and "power-mad land-grabbers."
Davis said she was not "comfortable" with the Bennion annexation right now but encouraged petitioners to try again.
Council Chairman Gregory Brown, who cast the only vote supporting annexation, said he believes the city's future lies in careful, planned growth. "If we say that the Ship Murray is full, then we're kidding ourselves."
He applauded the foresight of Murray's forefathers who approved annexing new areas "without knowing all the answers" - which proved to benefit the city.
The years petitioners spent seeking annexation were not worthless, said Brown. The effort has sparked needed "truthful discussion" between Murray officials and school districts authorities about the impact of annexation.
Citizens from the Taylorsville-Bennion area who opposed annexation complained that petitioners misrepresented the truth about impact on schools, utilities and taxes. Several asked for the issue to be put to a popular vote, saying it was unfair for council members to decide the issue.
"We don't want to bring people in kicking and screaming - believe me, that is not our intent," replied Brown.
Those who favored the annexation expressed offense at the accusation of "misrepresentation." They said those who signed the petition (6 out 10 residents in the area) were well-informed.
Proponents said they were "scared to death" their area would be picked up by another, less desirable city and wanted to become part of a "great city like Murray."
Disappointed in the decision of the council to reject annexation, proponents blamed threats by the Granite School district to use its influence with the Legislature to consolidate Murray School District - if the annexation had been approved.