HELENA – The City of Helena is expanding after the Helena City Commission voted unanimously Monday to annex about 140 residences to the west side of town.
The area is located east of Granite Street, south of Highway 12 West, and generally west of the existing city limits.
“The development on the west side of the city of Helena has been an issue for nearly 40 years,” Dennis Taylor, Helena’s city manager, said.
Taylor said when many of the homes in the area were building during the 1970s, they lacked adequate infrastructure. Many homes run on individual wells and septic systems, some of which have failed and can’t be replaced.
Taylor said one major advantage of the annexation is the extension of city water and sewer services to the area for those who haven’t already linked into the city’s system.
“Most of the people who are affected by this annexation won’t have to do anything because they don’t have a failed septic system and they already have city water,” Taylor said. “They won’t have to do anything until they need a new septic system.”
The annexation is actually part three in a four-part project to bring west side residents into Helena – approval of part four is still nearly a decade away.
Because the area being annexed is surrounded by land already in city limits, homeowners didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. State law calls for the annexation of land if it is wholly surrounded by the city of Helena and residents don’t have the right to protest.
“I don’t think anybody’s wildly enthusiast about ever being annexed, but when you’re wholly surrounded by the city – it’s the correct public policy,” Taylor said.
The annexation will also bring other city services to residents including city police, fire, and street maintenance. However, the services come at a cost as residents in the area will now pay taxes to the City of Helena in addition to Lewis and Clark County.
The area officially becomes part of Helena on December 1.
-Reporting by Jacob Fuhrer