Owners of a Gore Road property agreed to move forward in signing an annexation agreement and paying fees associated with using Morris' water and sewer services.
Members of Morris' Water & Sewer Committee, along with Mayor Richard Kopczick and the city's attorney, met with the property's lawyer Friday morning.
According to previous reports, city leaders approved the property, located at 585 Gore Road — where the AT&T Building is located — for annexation into Morris in April. The property is about 4.74 acres, is owned by the Gleason Family Trust and leased by AT&T.
Before Friday, the owners had yet to sign the annexation agreement or pay water and sewer tap-on fees, but moved forward with connecting to the city's water and sewer and were using services.
At the meeting, the landowners' attorney, Dan Adler, questioned the per-acre fee and the sewer tap-on fee, as well as whether the property was subject to a front footage fee. He asked if the front footage fee was an access fee. Kopczick said that it wasn't.
"It's to help offset the cost (of extending a sewer or water main)," he said. "The bottom line is, your development, and it doesn't matter if it's a private or public development, shouldn't be paid for by me, or him, or him, or any other citizen in the city of Morris. We paid for ours."
He was backed by Alderman Julian Houston, who said their decision to stand by the fees was also a matter of consistency.
"I look at it this way — I can't give you something that I can't give somebody else," he said.
"We'd be setting a precedent," added Alderman Duane Wolfe.
Houston noted that the landowners knew the fees in the beginning.
Adler said they were hoping to amortize them and were also in negotiations with AT&T. He said they were also hoping to avoid having to finance to pay the fees, but were now not in the position to do that.
Houston said the committee didn't want to make an exception in order to avoid having to make exceptions for others.
"It's been too many instances ... where people have come to us and said, 'Can you do this for me?' Well, here's the thing about it, if I do it for you, then these other annexations going on, they will hear about it and they're going to want to know, 'Why can't you do it for me?'" he said. "Because it's not the way it's written."
After the meeting, Kopczick said because of the property's location in the water district, the landowners already had significant savings with the fees in comparison with other similarly-sized annexations that are in the works, but not in the district.
The committee gave the landowners a two-week extension to pay the sewer and water fees. Their new deadline is Aug. 16.