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City Council annexes Cabinet Heights

| October 20, 2006 12:00 AM

By BRENT SHRUM Western News Editor

The Libby City Council on Monday voted to annex more than 100 homes in the Cabinet Heights area into the city limits.

On Sept. 1, the city mailed letters to area property owners informing them that they had 30 days to disconnect from municipal water service or give up their right to protest annexation. The letter was backed up by an ordinance based on laws on the books in other cities in Montana.

None of the property owners chose to disconnect their water service, said Mayor Tony Berget.

"We gave them way beyond the 30 days," he said.

The city has been considering annexation of the area, which includes Reese Court and Cabinet View Country Club, for years.

"We've had meetings, and we've tried to make sure that it's no secret," Berget said.

City attorney Chuck Evans is looking into the legal issues regarding the process by which the annexation will take effect, Berget said.

Annexation will allow the city to move forward with a project to extend sewer service to the area. Extension of sewer service was requested by developers of the country club, which borrowed more than $1 million from the city's economic development fund to expand the golf course from nine to 18 holes. The new nine holes are expected to be ready for golfers next spring. The country club plans to repay the city with money raised through the sale of residential lots near the golf course.

The sewer project is estimated at around $3 million. The city is looking into financing the work by creating a tax increment financing district for the Cabinet Heights area, Berget said. Money borrowed from the state will be paid back through tax revenues from increased property values within the district. While all property values in the area are expected to rise, the bulk of the increase will be from new real estate development on the lots around the golf course, Berget said.

The project is expected to go out for bids next fall, with construction starting in 2008.

Extending sewer service to the area is motivated not only by the country club project but also by recurring sewage problems in the area resulting from poor drainage, Berget said.

"The city has always looked at doing the sewer up there for the homes," he said.