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Boundary Commission Process Explained

To better understand what Wildwood and Clarkson Valley leaders are facing, Patch interviewed the executive director of the St. Louis County Boundary Commission.

Michelle Dougherty, executive director of the St. Louis County Boundary Commission, explains the commission process prompts municipalities to file map plans every six years—plans that include a five-year outlook.

"It's critical that municipalities present plans now that they think they might possibly be interested in doing, because it's the required beginning step," Dougherty said. "It's like reserving your right to be able to execute future plans."

She said the map plans due by July 1 reserve cities' rights to submit annexation and consolidation plans for the five years that follow the Boundary Commission's Map Plan stage. This process was referenced at Monday night's meeting.

See related Patch articles from this week:

The last time Boundary Commissioners received map plans was 2006. This year, public hearings on submitted map plans will be held between August and December and public comments will be accepted until Dec. 31. Dougherty said the commissioners do not decide the actual final boundaries, however.

She said it is possible that two or more municipalities will submit map plans with overlapping target areas, or map plans that cover the same portion of a proposed annexation area. During the map plan process, there are opportunities to discuss any overlaps during the public hearings. She said each of those municipalities' representatives provide a proposal during the second stage that answers questions about potential annexations, and reasons why the annexation would be beneficial and relevant.

"If there are competing proposals, the Commissioners will have hearings on each one," said Dougherty. "They will review the information from each hearing and either accept or reject the proposals."

In fact, hearings are held for any submitted proposals.

For example, she said during the previous process eight years ago, Wildwood, Manchester and Ellisville had competing annexation proposals, and Wildwood's was the only one accepted in that case.

Not later than April 15, 2013, submitting parties may amend their map plans based on public hearings or other comments, according to the Boundary Commissions' guidelines. However, no such amendment can enlarge the area originally submitted, except for minor technical amendments necessary to address boundary issues. Map plans as submitted or as amended by April 15, 2013, remain on file with the Commission, and will be the limit of permissible boundary changes and established unincorporated area proposals until a new five-year planning cycle begins.

Dougherty also said a city ordinance must accompany the upcoming map plans. Based on that, one would expect this topic to be included in the next two or three Wildwood City Council meetings.

She said three cities so far have submitted map plans:  Olivette, Hazelwood and Bellefontaine Neighbors.

Proposed annexation areas must be at least 15 percent contiguous to a city's existing boundaries, Dougherty told Patch.

She said in the case of Clarkson Valley, its city leaders could pursue consolidation plans, if desired, after the Boundary Commission Map Plan stage is completed on April 15, 2013, as long as another city has submitted a map plan that includes that option and interest.

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