Cities Battle Over Land

Cities Battle Over Land
By: Arnold Wyrick
The line in the sand so to speak has been drawn between city leaders in Carbondale, and Carterville. The two are arguing over who has the right to annex in a stretch of homes and businesses along Route 13.
Carbondale's Mayor Brad Cole says some of the property owners in the disputed area have already committed to his city, long before Carterville came calling.
"We currently have some applications for annexation in the area that is proposed to be annexed by Carterville. So there is additional legal issues here," Mayor Cole said.
But Carterville's City Attorney James Moore says folks in the area welcome the change to become part of the town.
"Well the first thing that I'd point out is that they have petitioned to be annexed to Carterville. It's at their request, they cannot be forced into annexation. Which this makes Carbondale's objection all the more curious. Why Carbondale would want to stop what these people have asked for," Moore said.
But the problem with Carterville annexing in the disputed area is hundred of acres of Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge. And according to state statutes an area must be connected to the existing municipality in order to be annexed into it.
Senate Bill 835 could soon change that statute. As the battles worked its way up to the Illinois Legislature, in Springfield.
"Without this technicality being fixed they won't be able to do that, and that's what this bill does. We're trying to give local people the opportunity to do what they want to do. Which is become part of the city of Carterville," says Democratic Representative of the 117th District John Bradley.
Mayor Cole feels otherwise about the proposed legislation.
"We have some concerns about the way this was handled. The legislation is specifically designed to allow Carterville to annex this property against our wishes. We have a problem with that. And we think there are other ramifications that could affect municipalities all over the state," Mayor Cole said.
Some of the business owners caught in the middle say if they could choose they'd choose Carterville, over Carbondale.
"A lot of it's monetary things with the regulations and set up they have in the city of Carbondale, we can't afford to meet. Or expanding which we'd like to do. With the people here in Carterville they have regulations and we understand that everybody has to work with that, but they're much more lenient. And we do have the possibilities of expansion, while with Carbondale we know it's strictly out," says Jerry Kauffman co-owner of Mac-Weld.
Republican Representative of the 115th District Mike Bost sees even more problems with the proposed legislation beyond the dispute between Carbondale, and Carterville.
"It's really poor the way the language is, it allows you to jump across if you butt up anywhere against a wildlife refuge. You can then annex in anywhere on any side of that wildlife refuge. That's not a wise thing," Bost said.
And Carbondale's Mayor says the fight over the disputed area, has just begun.
"We intend to fight this vigorously to the full extent of the law."
The legislation has already passed the Senate, and is now in the House for a vote during this current legislative session.