(Posted July 9, 2015)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
Life in Christ Fellowship, a church on Route 142 north of the village, lost its request to be annexed into the village of West Jefferson, mainly due to costs involved with water and sewer tap-in fees.
The church filed paperwork with the Madison County commissioners on June 26 requesting its 20.8624 acres be annexed into the village.
“Life in Christ Fellowship is a good neighbor and wants to be a part of West Jefferson,” said Larry Lones, a church trustee.
The church is building a playground and plans to install a baseball field, soccer field, “and maybe a daycare center and an amphitheater,” Lones said. “We plan to continue to grow and to be a part of the community.”
In response to the annexation request, the village prepared a statement of what it could offer the church in return. The village would allow access to its water and sewer systems and provide police protection.
“The most important part is police protection,” said Ron Garver, council president.
Currently, the Madison County Sher-iff’s Office provides the church with protection, but it doesn’t always have a patrol car in the area. The church has experienced numerous incidences of vandalism and break-ins. When the Sheriff’s Office gets a call and a patrol car isn’t close, the call is forwarded to the West Jefferson Police Department.
With annexation, the church would have to pay tap-in fees for water and sewer. The closest water and sewer is north of the railroad tracks. Lones said the church does not have the money to run water and sewer lines under the railroad tracks. To tap into the lines installed by Battelle, it would have to pay fees to Battelle.
The church is on the west side of the highway. Garver said the costs would not be that much if the lines extended down the west side. It would cost more to tap in if the lines were on the east side and the tap-in lines would have to go under the road.
Considering the church’s financial constraints, Garver advised that the church wait until development on Route 142 is further along to request annexation.
“I’d like to see Life in Christ Fellowship as part of the village,” Garver said. “If we allow one in, how would the others (houses) take it? Would one want in, but not the next one? It could hurt us in the future.”
Lones said he understood the concerns and offered to pull the request.
“Maybe it would be better if we pull back,” he offered.
Council decided to vote on the request anyway. Garver, Randy Otis and Doug Eakins voted against the annexation proposal; Steve Johnston, Jim King and Ray Martin voted for it. A 3-3 tie meant it failed since four votes are needed to pass it. Council member Cory Coburn was absent.