In what was at one time a highly-charged and passionate issue, potential annexation is once again a topic of discussion for the Dyersville City Council. But this time around, the introduction of a new annexation study was met with pointed questions and curiosity during its reveal to the public.

Mayor Jim Heavens, who has been involved in these discussions previously, said there is no rush to make any decisions, and in fact, he would like to see more numbers emerge as these conversations between the city and residents in potential annexation areas continue.

“It’s maybe a bit more complicated of a business decision than it appears on the surface,” Heavens said.

Around 30 people attended a presentation that identified eight potential annexation areas, which include: North Highway 136 — an area of light industrial and commercial along with some residential; Dyersville East Road— primarily ag land that could be home to residential development; Northwest Area — the area between 2nd Street NE and X49, which has residential neighborhoods that could expand; Dyersville West — west of 7th Street SW and south of Tegeler Pond, could have some future industrial applications; Highway 20 South — could be a continuation of the existing industrial park; South 136 Residential — a series of homes already developed on Olde Castle Road; Southeast Growth Area — south of U.S. 20 and east of Olde Castle Road, would not be prioritized for residential and likely left agricultural due to floodplains and topography; Golf Course Road — already developed with residential homes on large lots with infrastructure in place, could be home to orderly future expansion.

One point that was hammered on several different occasions was that this study was not a means to provoke any type of involuntary annexation, and in fact, involuntary annexation was not an issue that the council wishes to explore.

Charlie Cowell, a consultant with RDG, said that because Dyersville is not within two miles of another city, voluntary annexation would be relatively easy and does not require review by the State City Development Board.

One potential benefit to annexation would be adding more room for residential lots, while simultaneously allowing the city to ensure these areas would be developed in accordance with the city’s standards and land use policies.

“These (potential annexation) areas are very large and, in all honesty, with the growth rate Dyersville is expecting in the next 10, 15 to 20 years, that growth could be accommodated within city limits, there is enough vacant land,” Cowell said. “So, this is looking very long-term — think 20 to 40 years.”

Heavens said the main concerns City Hall gets from residents who own houses just outside of Dyersville’s borders is whether or not this would be a good financial deal for them.

The draft annexation study does provide dollar figures for what each annexation area would cost the city as well as what it could potentially bring in new tax revenue, but these figures are based on averages. Any cost analysis for a specific property can be performed by city staff by request.

Cowell said this is a larger issue that still needs to be discussed by the council, which needs to decide what sort of potential annexation incentives it would be willing to create, like tax abatement and waiving certain application fees.

Both parties have a lot of flexibility in this regard, he said.

“As long as it’s in writing and agreed upon by all parties, and the state agrees with it as well, you can set up the structure however you’d like,” Cowell said. “Again, it’s voluntary, but we don’t want to burden people with the additional costs that come with being a part of the city.”

City Administrator Mick Michel said each potential area is unique, and depending how close one would be to existing infrastructure, would determine any timelines regarding supplying utilities to the area.

Michel said depending on the agreement, the city could provide services like garbage pick-up and police protection without including water and sanitary sewer.

“That’s why this study is important, there might be an area where someone wants those services, but it’s unrealistic at this time to provide that because we don’t have all the necessary water main there,” Michel said.

From here, the Dyersville City Council will hold another public hearing on the annexation study in the future and will also need to discuss what sort of policies it wants to adopt in regards to incentives.

But Heavens again stressed there is no rush.

“We don’t need the land, and we’re doing okay tax-wise, but it would be nice if we had a few more people as some of the tax dollars are allocated based on population,” Heavens said. “We have the luxury of discussing this as a business decision from every individual property owner and the people who represent the taxpayers.”

The full draft annexation report can be viewed on the City of Dyersville’s website.