Commentary – It’s a fair question to ask: “Is it settled?” The short answer seems to be “no”. The high court did answer some questions about what the law says about the respective rights of Xenia and the City of Johnston, but a difference of opinion between the parties seems to remain unresolved. This annexed area provides a significant opportunity for future growth for Johnston and NW Polk County; a big part of it is designated as “employment” in the Johnston comprehensive plan. To realize this vision for development, utilities, including water and sewer, must be present. Corresponding developments must also emerge to financially justify the public investment.
Having the right to extend services into an area with no developments doesn’t make sense for either Xenia or the City of Johnston. It is hoped that reasonable minds can meet so that some agreement can be reached about the extension of utilities into this development area. No one seems to be benefiting from the protracted litigation.
Originally posted May 11, 2021 – The Iowa State Supreme Court has issued an opinion on Xenia Rural Water Dist. V. City of Johnston. The Court generally ruled that a rural water district does not have a right to provide water service to an area within two miles of the limits of a municipality. This apparently clears the way for the City of Johnston to extend water service to the NW Annexation (Beaver Creek) area.
The parties to the litigation included the City of Johnston and Xenia Rural Water District, with engagement by the Iowa League of Cities and the Association of Regional Water Associations et al, respectively.
The City of Johnston has reported that they are pleased with the Opinion and will soon be reaching out to NW Annexation (Beaver Creek) area property owners with additional information. This issue has been a significant barrier to progress in the Beaver Creek development area. It is unclear at this writing what further action may be considered in this matter.