Dunlap looks at growth

Nick Stroman

Three hundred dollars is the asking price for property owners in Radnor and Medina Township to enter into a pre-annexation agreement with the Village of Dunlap.

More than 100 concerned residents turned up at the Dunlap High School auditorium  Thursday to hear a presentation on the pros and cons of annexation.

Concerned Dunlap dignitaries and citizens recently formed a grassroots annexation effort after three years of planning.

Terry Haas, a member of the citizens group, said the push for annexation is due to both the village’s recent growth and the City of Peoria’s recent decision to define Kickapoo Creek as the northern edge of the city’s boundary.

Under the proposed annexation agreement, new Dunlap boundaries could be expanded to the east as far as Route 40 and south to Pauli Road.

Annexation would prevent Peoria from moving beyond Kickapoo Creek.

The Peoria County Board, Dunlap Village Board and Dunlap Public Library District board have all voiced full support of the effort.

Annexation talks have begun with both the Dunlap school board and Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, but so far their stance is neutral.

Village president Jack Fennell has another meeting with Ardis next month.

Dunlap’s attorneys have estimated the cost for the annexation project to be between $20,000 and $30,000, hence the $300 fee per property owner.

Any unused funds would be reimbursed to the property owners.

“Honestly, we first approached the village with a referendum option, but decided against it. This has been a voluntary effort and not some arm twisting tactic,” Haas said.

Haas added Thursday’s meeting and the request for a $300 fee is to gage interest and figure out a timeline to proceed forward.

Attorney Roger Holzgrafe said some neighbors could lose out on the benefits of pre-annexation if they choose to wait to pay in, while the property owners around them have already signed up.

“Certain lots could choose not to participate as long as their property is contiguous. They may not benefit though,” Holzgrafe said.

Some of the pre-annexation benefits the group cited were lower tax rates than Peoria, higher property values, preservation of the fire protection and library districts, future village service and planning for development and preservation of the quality of living and sense of community.

On the con side, Village of Dunlap taxes are $26 higher per $100,000 assessed evaluation than the unincorporated tax rate.

One man in the crowd said he has lived near Charter Oak Road for several years and has not once been approached about annexation.

“I’ve kind of liked the fact that no one wanted us,” shouted another man from the audience.

Fennell said he wants to maintain the village’s financial status.

“After many meetings about this, we want the community to come on board now,” Fennell said.

Another member of the community group, Fire Chief John Doering Jr., said they would like to have a decision to annex to present for a vote at the December meeting of the Dunlap Village Board.

“The growth of Peoria affects the lifestyle of residents and property owners in unincorporated areas in many ways,” Doering said. “The long-term choice for residents is clear: signing a pre-annexation agreement with the Village of Dunlap will save you money in the long run.”

Fennell said close to $______ was collected from property owners at the end of the meeting.