Officials reject annexation plan

The Canadian County Commissioners on Monday decided against pursuing annexation into the new county fairgrounds into the city of El Reno … for now.
Acting as the Canadian County Public Facilities Authority, the commissioner voted unanimously to table indefinitely a proposal to seek the annexation.
District 2 Commissioner David Anderson said that he is waiting to see conditions the city would place on the fairgrounds project if it were annexed.
The new fairgrounds will be built on 50 acres located just east of the El Reno city limits at the intersection of Jensen Road and Alfadale Road.
The city of El Reno has agreed to provide water to the site.
Mayor Matt White said the city would provide the water line, which will cost $700,000 to $800,000, at no cost to the county, if it annexed the land into the city.
“It would be free money for the county,” he said.
“If they don’t annex, the water line won’t be important to us to build, and we will put our money into something else.”
The commissioners said they were concerned that the city’s building standards were more rigorous than the county’s.
One area of concern is whether all of the parking lots at the fairgrounds would be required to be paved under city policies.
White suggested that, with annexation, the county could apply to treat the fairgrounds as a planned unit development.
A PUD would have its own developments requirements based on an agreement between the city and county.
“A PUD gets granted a reprieve” from standard city development rules, White said.
He noted that there is a “hiccup.” The PUD would require city council approval, which usually happened after staff and a developer negotiate the terms but is not guaranteed.
White, who also is the acting city manager, said he would have city staff review the fairgrounds plans so it could determine how the plan would be treated under the city’s development requirements.
Anderson seemed satisfied with that approach. “The ball is back on their court,” he said.
District 1 Commissioner Marc Hader said the commissioners plan to eventually annex the fairgrounds into the city, partly because annexation would be required to obtain city sewer service.
Commissioner Jack Stewart added: “It’s not urgent.”
Also on Monday, the commissioners set Feb. 24 as the bid opening date for the fairgrounds construction project.
The fairgrounds will include a large expo center and a maintenance building.
Canadian County is modeling its new fairgrounds on the Grady County Fairgrounds in Chickasha, which is relatively new and has been successful in attracting events to the community, Anderson said.
The facility will replace the current fairgrounds, which have been on the same property since the mid-1950s.
That location, which is about 14 acres, is land-locked and considered too small for the fairgrounds to expand enough to offer the types of events that draw large crowds, the commissioners have said.

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