Although it’s one of the widest cities in the metro area, Centennial’s map can look like a winding piece of Swiss cheese, with pockets of unincorporated land large and small that aren’t part of the city.
Take a drive on East Arapahoe Road, and it’ll prove difficult to tell which areas are Centennial and which aren’t.
To a small degree, the city is filling some holes in. Five properties in Centennial’s central region will become part of the city, among them some condominium complexes and storage facilities.
Whether Centennial will ever fill in some of its larger holes — like Dove Valley, Inverness or areas near East Smoky Hill Road — is unclear, but here are the ins and outs of the annexations the city council approved on May 6.
The city will bring within its boundaries the Fox Run condos, near East Broncos Parkway and South Blackhawk Street, and Dry Creek Crossing Condominiums, at East Dry Creek Road and South Yosemite Street.
It will also include three storage facilities: Windmill Creek Storage, near East Easter Avenue and Blackhawk Street; a CubeSmart storage facility near Easter Avenue and South Havana Street; and Neighborhood Self Storage, for boats and RVs, near Arapahoe and South Jordan roads.
Neighborhood Self Storage, Windmill Creek Storage and Fox Run condos sit near Centennial’s south edge in Dove Valley, an area with much undeveloped land. Much of Dove Valley is unincorporated.
The CubeSmart facility is near where the city touches Inverness, a business-heavy unincorporated stretch east of Interstate 25.
The Dry Creek Crossing condos annexation will fill in a rare hole in the western part of the city, where Centennial’s map is mostly solid.
The city also will consider on May 20 annexing property on the southeast corner of Easter Avenue and South Lima Street, where a large, undeveloped field sits near Centennial Airport.
How annexation works
Unincorporated areas are those that aren’t within city boundaries and, as such, aren’t governed by city ordinances. They’re overseen by the county and sometimes by special metropolitan districts, bodies similar to municipalities but more limited in the services they provide.
Enclaves — unincorporated areas surrounded by city land — are eligible for annexation after three years of being an enclave, according to city staff reports. All the properties council approved on May 6 were enclaves.
Annexing enclaves is a simpler process than annexing other land, which requires that property owners initiate and consent to the process, said Allison Wittern, city spokeswoman.
The goal of bringing enclaves and adjacent land into the city is expressed in the city’s comprehensive plan, Centennial NEXT, which sets priorities for growth and development in the city, the report said.
What are the benefits?
Annexing enclaves makes providing public services more efficient, the city’s report said. It also “achieves greater fairness” between enclave residents who use city infrastructure and city residents who pay taxes to support it.
Pulling properties within Centennial’s boundaries and its zoning — the city’s rules for what can be built where — will promote the “character of the area, allowing compatible uses and structures that will create employment opportunities” in Centennial, the report said.
The properties are also expected to contribute tax revenue to the city once included, the report added.
“There is no negative fiscal impact to the city,” the city’s reports on the annexations said.
How it weighs out
A city incurs costs when it annexes land because it must provide services like law enforcement, road maintenance and other city functions to that area.
But when annexed, landowners no longer pay a certain Arapahoe County property tax — known as the Arapahoe County Law Enforcement Authority tax, which supports law enforcement services — and instead pay the city’s property tax.
Depending on the type of land, the city may also receive sales tax revenue, as well as construction-use tax for new development that may happen in that spot, Wittern said.
The county still charges its general property tax on annexed land, but property owners don’t see much change, Wittern said.
“The net effect to a property owner is negligible,” Wittern said. For example, the difference between the Arapahoe County law enforcement tax and the city’s property tax is less than an additional $1 per year for a residential property with a valuation of $500,000, Wittern said.
Will city close more holes?
Large swaths of the area near Centennial’s central and east regions are unincorporated, but including many of those areas in the city would require property owners to ask for annexation.
That includes many residential areas, which, more often than not, “do not generate significant new revenues” for the city, Wittern said.
“The city will continue to consider those logical annexations that add to the Centennial community,” Wittern said.
Centennial has annexed land many times since its formation in 2001. A map of the city’s annexations over time is located through the city website here.
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