NORFOLK, Neb. -- In a unanimous vote, the city of Norfolk has passed their first reading with their first phase of annexation.
The annexation plan is been a topic of debate among members of the Norfolk community. For the past two months, residents living inside the proposed areas of annexation have come to numerous meetings to speak out against the plan. While there has been an open house and a FAQ released about annexation, many still felt that they had not been given enough time about the annexation plan, and how it would negatively affect them financially
"In my opinion this council has already determined what the proposed vote on the annexation will be," Julie M. Thompson a resident living outside the current city limits said. "It makes a mockery of how our local government is intended to work and clearly shows that the council has had no real interest in anything or anyone affected by this has to say. This proposal has been rushed through and was done so for the council to do the bare minimum of what is required to push their self-serving agenda through."
While a majority of speakers during Tuesday night’s meeting were against annexation, some spoke in favor of the plan. One man spoke about how the city had been discussing annexation for months, and that residents are only now learning about the plan because they hadn’t been paying attention to the city council.
"I've attended every city council meeting, every planning commission meeting, every meeting that has been held on the annexation for probably the last 2.5-3 months," Norfolk resident Brad Brooks said. "I can probably count on these two hands the people that are in the audience tonight that have shown up at any of these meetings. I am really frustrated with the fact that people get up here and they say 'we haven't heard anything about this.' It's everybody's responsibility to be civic minded enough to pay attention to what's going on. Progress is not free. At the end of the day, if we're to be progressive, we have to plan for it and it's not, as some people have described, as willy-nilly...it has to be organized. There's rules, there's regulations, and as near as I can tell in the last 2 or 3 months attending these meetings...I don't think anyone has overstepped their bounds"
With five votes for and three council members abstaining the vote passed its first reading. The plan must pass three rounds in order to go into effect. The next time the vote will take place during the city’s next council meeting. There, residents will again have an opportunity to speak out or for the plan as well as ask questions.
Mayor Josh Moenning also encourages residents with questions to contact their elected officials to learn more about the annexation plan and to ask questions about the plan.