Phelps County residents gathered with representatives of Intercounty Electric Cooperative Association on Tuesday to express concerns they have that Rolla might want to annex their land.


Phelps County residents gathered with representatives of Intercounty Electric Cooperative Association on Tuesday to express concerns they have that Rolla might want to annex their land.
“I am a property rights person,” said Dwayne Cartwright, the General Manager of Intercounty Electric.
Cartwright came to the home of Robert and Carolyn Weitzsacker, on County Road 2170, to discuss their concerns along with several of the Weitzsacker’s neighbors.
Those gathered at the Weitzsacker’s are not Rolla residents but instead are residents of Phelpls County.
People at the meeting were wary, after their experiences with the proposed Enhanced Enterprise Zone between Rolla and St. James.
The EEZ between the two cities was presented to the Phelps County Commission in July, and has since been reconsidered. Rolla and St. James are now working on separate EEZs.
“Basically, we don’t want to change, and we don’t want our rates to go up,” said Dale Steen, a Weitzsacker neighbor.
Residents were concerned that they would be annexed into Rolla and eventually have to receive their electricity from Rolla Municipal Utilities.
Cartwright told the group that even if the city annexed them, existing structures would not have to get power from RMU. However, any new structures built, those would have to receive electricity from RMU.
The scenario is similar to the south side annexation from several years ago, when residents who had been receiving electricity from Intercounty remained with the company, but new homes receive  electricity to RMU.
The Weitzsackers have had difficulties with RMU; they are in a dispute over the use of eminent domain in correspondences they have received from attorneys representing RMU.
“I’m not here to bash RMU,” Cartwright told the group. He, however, could not understand why eminent domain would have been used at that point in the negotiations.
He added in the 13 years he has been with Intercounty, the company had used imminent domain once.
“We keep saying, it is a totally separate issue,” John Butz, Rolla City Administrator said on Wednesday.
Butz said he understands the residents concerns, but stressed that at the moment, Rolla is discussing with Phelps County a joint application for an EEZ, this would eliminate the issue of annexation, according to Butz.
He added that there were two ways the city could annex land: Property owners could voluntarily apply to be annexed, or the city would have to pursue a involuntary annexation.
This process would require the city to go before a judge and demonstrate the necessity of the annexation, after which it would be put to a vote of residents of both the city and the potential annexed land, according to Butz.
Butz said the city has done this only once in the past 15 years, with the south side annexation.
“The city has expressed no interest in doing another annexation,” Butz said.