BOISE — Legislation that would have allowed a landowner to petition a city council to de-annex their property if it was greater than 5 acres and used for agricultural purposes won’t pass this year because the legislative session has ended.

But it’s likely to be discussed between now and the 2017 session and could be back for another try next year.

The bill was introduced late in the session and farm groups haven’t had time to digest it completely, said Milk Producers of Idaho Executive Director Brent Olmstead.

But, he added, “It’s probably not a bad idea. It will probably be talked bout during the interim” between sessions.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Mike Moyle, the House majority leader and a Republican farmer and rancher from Star.

As an example of why it’s needed, he pointed to the city of Boise’s forced annexation of a large piece of farm ground in the northwest part of the city last year.

“Under current Idaho law, it was always perceived that if you had agricultural land that was greater than 5 acres, it couldn’t be forced annexed into a city,” he said.

Moyle said Boise used a road right of way to argue that since the land was now surrounded by city limits, it could be force-annexed.

“I think it’s a mistake when we use road right of ways and other right of ways to try to surround property and annex it,” he said. “I also believe it was always the legislature’s intent that (ag ground) not be able to be force-annexed.”

Boise officials declined to comment on the bill.

Moyle’s bill would have allowed owners of ag land to petition a city council to have their property de-annexed without charge.

The bill stated that the city council would then have 28 days to “issue a reasoned decision outlining why the land in question does, or does not, meet the standards required by this section.”

If the city council refused to detach the land, the owner could appeal to district court.

Idaho statute is confusing on this issue and until the language is clarified, landowners whose ag ground is force-annexed are unlikely to win in district court, Moyle said.

“This is a stab at clarifying the language and making sure we keep those agricultural lands” from being force-annexed, he said. “Remember, we’re talking about forced annexation, not voluntary annexation.”

The bill faced close scrutiny from House Revenue and Taxation Committee members during a print hearing.

Rep. Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell, said he was concerned there was no requirement that the agricultural purpose of the land pre-date annexation.

“What I’m seeing the possibility of here is that if somebody who owns 10 acres of industrial land gets peeved at the city, you can start feeding hogs in the warehouse and running goats in the gravel yard and say it’s an ag purpose,” he said.

The committee voted to give the bill a public hearing but the legislative session ended March 25.

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