Murphysboro Boundary (dis)Agreement
The Southern Illinoisan and the Daily Egyptian reported this week on the ongoing boundary negotiations between Carbondale and Murphysboro. It seems that Murphysboro is not happy with the tentative agreement. From the Southern Illinoisan’s Tuesday article :
Saying it could see no benefit to signing a proposed 20-year agreement and with a disagreement between the cities on how the boundary would be drawn just south of Illinois 13, the council decided to take no action on the proposal.
In Carbondale’s proposal, the boundary line would be centered on Country Club Road to the highway before jutting east down the highway and before following Airport Road to the north. Murphysboro’s proposal has the boundary turning east at D. Blaney Miller Road, on which Murphysboro already offers city services, to Airport Road.
The last boundary agreement between Carbondale and Murphysboro, which was in place formally from 1982 to 2002 and informally since then, followed Country Club Road to the south of Route 13, and followed an imaginary line extending north from Country Club Road to the north of Route 13. Carbondale’s proposal would move the boundary line on the north side of Route 13 nearly a mile east, where it would follow Airport Road. Here is a map of the boundary Carbondale proposed (click image for larger version):
Murphysboro clearly benefits from this new boundary, as it gains developed property north of Route 13 – property that would have belonged to Carbondale under the old agreement. In fact, Carbondale already has an annexation agreement for property west of the proposed new boundary. This agreement would be terminated if the new boundary agreement was approved by both cities. But Murphysboro isn’t satisfied. Murphysboro wants more.
Here’s a map derived from the one above roughly showing the area Murphysboro wants outlined in black:
I can understand why Murphysboro would want this additional land – they want the sales tax from any future retail development opposite the Wal-Mart – but I don’t understand how they can justify demanding it. The Daily Egyptian, citing Carbondale City Manager Alan Gill offers one explanation:
City Manager Allen Gill said the proposed agreement between Carbondale and Murphysboro would establish a dividing line between two growing communities. Within the proposed agreement, both parties have agreed not to annex properties across the designated line and not to exercise extra-territorial zoning powers across the line, he said.
The problem with that explanation is that it isn’t factually correct. There aren’t two growing cities, there is one slowly growing city and one rapidly shrinking city. Using the corrected data (pdf), Murphysboro’s population in 2000 was 8,694. According to preliminary census data, Murphysboro’s 2010 population is 7,970 – an 8% decline during the last ten years. Carbondale’s corrected 2000 population was 25,597, while our 2010 population was 25,902 – a 1% increase.
Despite losing 8% of its population since the 2000 census, the Murphysboro city council seems to think it is entitled to extend its boundaries toward Carbondale. That doesn’t make much sense, and I don’t think it is going to work. From the Southern Illinoisan’s Wednesday article:
Saying he could not see a light at the end of the tunnel, Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole said his city will start enforcing its jurisdictional zoning and planning rights to protect Carbondale residents along the disputed border.
“It would be in our best interest to do that, post-haste,” Cole said.
People who live up to 1 1/2 miles west of zoned Carbondale property could be affected by stricter enforcement, but Cole said he’s not looking to start a border war.
Since Carbondale had zoning jurisdiction in the area earlier than Murphysboro, Carbondale’s jurisdiction would preempt Murphysboro, even in some areas west of the old boundary at Country Club Road.
I think Carbondale should play tough with Murphysboro on the boundary issue. In my view, we offered them too generous a deal by considering the option of moving the boundary to Airport Road. Now that Murphysboro has rejected that offer, we should withdraw it. Carbondale should exercise it’s full zoning and planning rights, even west of Country Club Road, and we shouldn’t approve any permits unless the applicant signs an annexation agreement.
If Murphysboro doesn’t like that, then Murphysboro should accept a new boundary agreement following the old line – both north and south of Route 13. We have had boundary problems in the past when our neighbor to the east annexed desirable land that clearly should have belonged to Carbondale. We should avoid similar problems on our western border, especially considering that Murphysboro’s population is declining. I hope that our next mayor and city council will take a hard line on this issue.
Comments are welcome.