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Spearfish annexes 660 acres despite opposition

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

SPEARFISH (AP) — Spearfish is 660 acres bigger, but many of its new residents don’t like it.

The City Council listened to emotional pleas from people during a two-hour hearing then voted 5-1 Monday night to annex the land, though many of the 1,635 residents affected plan to push for a public vote in hopes of overturning the annexation, the Black Hills Pioneer reported.

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“Don’t sit there and think we aren’t united and know we are not giving up,” Jim Lee said.

City officials argued that residents in city limits pay to provide police, fire and ambulance services in the area when Lawrence County authorities can’t respond.

The additional property tax revenue would also finance infrastructure improvements, a waterline extension and fire hydrants.

Spearfish City Administrator Joe Neeb said the city would take in about $298,000 in revenue and $120,000 in new expenditures, so the benefit would be around $130,000. Once the connection fees for water, sewer and solid waste are added, Neeb estimates the city will net an additional $322,000.

But the message from the Spearfish Valley residents is they didn’t ask for city services, don’t need city services and just want to be left alone.

The increase in property taxes, fees and other costs to property owners were the main reasons cited for opposing the annexation.

Property owners said they also fear the 223 undeveloped acres of open space and farmland will attract developers who will build housing developments and parking lots that will put small farmers out of business and change the landscape.

“This decision is life-changing for many of us,” said John Pearson, who lives along Highway 14. “You are about to change the Valley and not for the better, and all we want is to be left alone.”

Neeb said opponents have 20 days to file a referendum, and within 60 days all registered voters residing in the annexation boundaries and within city limits will have an opportunity to overturn the council’s decision or let the process move forward.

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