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Spearfish Valley Residents Dig Out to Voice Opposition to City Annexation

I don't know how my Spearfish Valley neighbors feel about the federal government shutdown, but a bunch of Valley residents still don't want city government expansion.

Despite the fact that the biggest October blizzard in recent memory still has the schools closed and power out for numerous residents, the Spearfish City Council held a planned public meeting last night on its latest push to annex the Spearfish Valley. The meeting drew only half the attendance of the August meeting. But 77 residents braved Spearfish's snow-piled streets to mostly say "No thanks" to annexation:

"I think it's shameful after the worst storms that's hit us since October 1919 to even hold this hearing," said Lew Pamplin. "There are people up north who can't even get out of their driveways ... and you're going to make a real serious vote that really affects our lives."

Tami Otis, a single mother, told the council she feared annexation would force her to sell her house in the valley and move.

"We're all very emotional about this because it's going to change our lives," she said. "This is un-American to force us to do this. We do not need your services. We do not want your services. We're doing fine without you" [Tom Griffith, "Spearfish Annexation Hearing Draws a Crowd," Rapid City Journal, 2013.10.08].

Along with the general opposition to increased taxes, annexation opponents worry that annexation will allow more dense residential development that will drive up land prices and drive out some of the best small-scale, independent, locally marketing farm operations in the state, like Cycle Farm and Gage's Gardens. Mayor Dana Boke said during her campaign in March that she favors some protection for Valley agriculture, but it's unclear just what protections the city will offer to keep developers from snapping some of the most fertile land in the Black Hills.

Mayor Boke and the rest of the Spearfish City Council will likely set the annexation wheels in motion again, and Valley residents will likely mobilize again to put annexation to a vote. Enjoy those last Valley tomatoes you harvested before the blizzard, and get ready for a referendum.

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