Saturday, February 24, 2007

Is adjoining synonymous with adjacent or contiguous? While Nebraska Supreme Court allowed Omaha PacMan style to annex Elkhorn when both did not share a common boundary, it sides with Sarpy county and against Gretna when that town sought to annex additional stretches of Highways 31 and 370. County of Sarpy v. City of Gretna, S-05-748, 273 Neb. 92 Gretna sought to annex stretches of highways 31 and 370 leading out of the city. Sarpy county objected, although by the existing map of Gretna's corporate limits there are several narrow stretches of city, and further there was no larger area at the far end of the stretch that Gretna sought to incorporate, unlike in Omaha's situation with Elkhorn.See City of Elkhorn v. City of Omaha, S-05-1006, 272 Neb. 867 The court reverses Gretna's annexation under § 17-405.01 finding the stips were not contiguous or adjacent. Omaha got by the Supreme Court reasoned because as a metropolitan class city under Section 14-117 it could annex towns that because of Omaha's annexations of contiguous or ajacent territory became adjoined to the metropolitan city limits. Fortunately for Omaha, its lobbyists in 1998 had slipped into the law concerning metropolitan class cities' annexation powers, the ability to annex adjacent/contiguous land and adjoining cities by consequence of the annexation : the invalidity of a strip annexation is not based uponthe existence of a larger tract at the distal end of the strip, but,rather,upon thelack of substantial adjacency where the proximal end meets the corpo-rate limits of thecity. Here, as in Johnson, the connecting point consists merely of the width of the highway right-of-way where itmeets the municipal boundary. While the shape of a tract does not determine whether it can be lawfully annexed, the lack of substantial adjacency to an existing corporate boundary precludes annexation under § 17-405.01.It is apparent from the record that Gretna attempted these annexations for the purpose of controlling future growth by enlarging its zoning jurisdiction, which by law extends 1 mile beyond its corporate limits. see neb.rev. stat. § 17-1001 (Cum.supp. 2006).While a city may have legitimate reasons forusing its annexation power to achieve planning and land use control objec-tives, it must nevertheless exercise that powerin strict compliance with the statute by which it is conferred

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