Residents up in arms over Peoria annexation proposal

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 7:35 PM CST
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MEDINAH TOWNSHIP (25 News Now) - The city of Peoria is opening the door for a 90-acre addition near Dunlap to its borders. But nearby neighbors say they’re being left out of the loop.

Peoria’s Planning and Zoning Commission will hear property owner Fenceline’s proposal Thursday, before sending an official recommendation to the City Council for an annexation recommendation. Ahead of the meeting, neighbors near the land were sent postcards with information a week ago, with signs posted along Cedar Hills Drive informing those passing by about the first upcoming meeting.

Rick Schotthofer has lived on his family’s property since the 1950s, with two farms to his name that are no longer operational just down the road. They align right next to Cedar Hills, the major dividing line between Medinah Township and the proposed plot of empty land.

A week ago, Schotthofer received his postcard with a notice about the Committee meeting. Seeing that lead him to an immediate call to action.

“This got me off the couch and started talking to the neighbors (asking), ‘What can we do?’”

Schotthofer’s is expressing multiple concerns with his neighbors in light of the proposal. The first he says, lies in the fact that the land would be unable to handle potential property development, a term outlined in the proposal. After a major flood 50 years ago, Schotthofer believes the lack of connection to a central plumbing system has the potential to lead to flooding in the already unstable creek next to Cedar Hills. Annexation, he says, could also lead to future border expansion, which means the addition of his property within city limits. Higher taxes and redistribution of emergency resources are some of his top concerns, the reason he and many others moved to more rural areas of Peoria County to begin with.

In response, Schotthofer started a petition that’s already gathered dozens of signatures from those that live around the land. But it’s not long enough to properly organize, he says.

“The notification, I felt, we should have had 30, 60 days.”

Peoria’s Community Development Director Leah Allison says there are no immediate plans to take any of the action Schotthofer is speculating. If the council approves the recommendation, the land couldn’t even get added to Peoria’s borders. Because the plot doesn’t share its location with actual city limits, more acquisitions need to happen on the land in-between, which could take up to 20 years per the proposal’s time limit.

“We’re not contiguous to the property, so we won’t be able to physically annex until that happens, if it does happen in the future,” she says.

The petition also claims the city is forcing action on the property, in spite of what residents actually want: to be left alone. In response, Allison says the application for annexation was filed by the property’s owner, not by any Peoria official, making this a matter of a private business looking to develop.

“It’s not a force, it’s a voluntary application to the city,” she notes.

Schotthofer plans to gather fellow supporters at Thursday’s Commission meeting at 1:00 p.m. at Peoria City Hall to express their concerns ahead of the vote.

“Don’t just think that your elected officials are going to make this go away, because this is an uphill battle.”