A planned annexation on Helena's Westside can proceed after the Helena City Commission voted to settle a lawsuit filed by several homeowners in the area.
Mayor Jim Smith, Commissioner Dan Ellison, Commissioner Ed Noonan and Commissioner Rob Farris-Olsen all voted Monday to allow City Manager Ron Alles to sign the settlement agreement. Commissioner Andres Haladay was excused.
The commission approved the annexation of an area generally east of Joslyn Street and west of the city limits in April 2016, but a Helena judge temporarily put the plans on hold after the lawsuit was filed in May of the same year.
After both sides sign the agreement reached after mediation, the citizens who filed the lawsuit have five days to retract their complaint. When that occurs, the city will officially annex the area.
The lawsuit argued that the city's annexation and infrastructure would damage property prices and add a major burden to their homeownership without providing an acceptable tradeoff.
City attorney Thomas Jodoin said the annexation will bring city services to the Westside, including plowing, solid waste and garbage collection, and Helena police service. The Helena Fire Department is already serving the area.
"The city is going to start an infrastructure project" as the major next step in the process, Jodoin said. This includes water and sewer lines running to homes.
"The city commission has not adopted a reimbursement piece yet," Jodoin added. "They will go there when the project is completed."