Two 20-foot wide strips of land encircling vast acreage’s of unincorporated territory previously outside the Durant municipal limits have become the focal point of a major battle over municipal annexation of private property. The Oklahoma Farm Bureau and several landowners have filed a lawsuit against the city of Durant claiming the city improperly annexed the property.
“This is a classic case of taking land and increasing the regulatory burden on the landowner who had no vote in the matter,” said Steve Kouplen, Oklahoma Farm Bureau President.
These strips do not meet the legal requirements for annexation. According to Oklahoma law, annexed land must be adjacent or contiguous with the existing municipal limits.
“We’re concerned about the landowners who will have to abide by city regulations without receiving full city services,” Kouplen said. “Prior to annexation these landowners lived outside the city limits and therefore did not have a vote in city elections.”
Oklahoma law requires a municipality to prepare a plan for extending services to the proposed annexation area. Oklahoma Farm Bureau contends no such plan for services exists.
“It is impractical if not impossible for Durant to create a plan to provide services to the narrow strips,” said Jeff Todd, attorney for the Oklahoma Farm Bureau. “If allowed, Durant will have effectively â€˜captured’ thousands of acres of land for future expansion without being required to satisfy the legal obligations associated with municipal territory.”