GIS and Flagpole Annexation Gerrymandering


I drive Highway 285 to and from work every day in Morrison, so I'm pretty familiar with the corridor. After a while you start to notice the subtle elements -- old lost roads, cool rock formations and vegetation and the like. And the favorite speed traps.

While using my county's dated (non-resizable window, only works in Internet Explorer, sigh) but still useful GIS web site to look up some property ownership issues, I noticed a peculiar block of land (red circle) that was part of the town of Morrison (red arrow), but didn't seem to be connected.

Upon closer inspection, I saw that it is in fact just barely connected via a thin flagpole (red arrows) that runs along Highway 285 to Highway 8, and thence north along Highway 8 into the actual town of Morrison. I wondered, what is this?

So, I turned on the airphoto layer to see what was in this mystery block. On the left is with the town/county boundaries on, on the right is with that layer turned off for clarity. Blue (kinda looks green) screening is Town of Morrison, Yellow is unincorporated Jefferson County.

Ahhh, one of the biggest revenue generators in this neck of the woods, the Cooley Gravel Co, 18131 STATE HIGHWAY 8, MORRISON, CO (owned by Aggregate Industries). The town has cleverly arranged to make sure they get the tax base from this big industrial producer. Can't really say as I blame them, really. You can only subsidize so much by selling fajitas and margaritas in downtown Morrison. They've managed to only snag the actual quarry itself, note how the driveway and front office are in unincorporated JeffCo. Interesting. Now, why did they bother sneaking all the way down Highway 8 to 285, and then back up? I can't imagine anything they were trying to dodge -- why not just connect to Highway 8 right through the front drive of the quarry? Maybe there's another reason. As an experienced Highway 285 commuter, I know what it is. Let's slide down to 285 and see what can be found along the road in this little piece of Morrison.

Clicking the image will take you to this location in Microsoft's

Do you see that sedan sitting next to the road? That's a Town of Morrison police car manning his habitual speed trap just where flatlanders from Denver start the long climb up the hills to their outdoor recreation playgrounds. Right where those dualie pickups pulling RVs or boats step on the gas to get some momentum to get up the hill, BAM. Speeding ticket. Have a nice weekend!

He's there reliably enough that he's in the Microsoft airphoto (though not in the Bird's Eye view, which would have been neat). Google's flight didn't catch him, but I think they caught his partner in crime:

Clicking the image will take you to this location in Google Maps.

That one looks too silvery to be a white Morrison car. If it is a sedan (it may be some civilian vehicle) it may be a silver Colorado State Patrol cruiser fishing the downstream, a rich mother lode of tourists eager to get back to town. He's within Morrison's turf, but perhaps State has jurisdiction there too? I know I've seen both Morrison and CSP cars hunting in the downhill stretch here. There's a mashup candidate -- speed trap mapping. I haven't seen a site like that covering my region.

Reader comments:
"The gravel company made a deal with Morrison several years ago to be annexed into Morrison. The quarry gets water from Morrison for its operations, and later when the quarry closes, Morrison gets the quarry to store water for which they have the appropriations but no storage for the appropriated water. The tickets are just a bonus. " -mtnspike

Also, Pita passes along this interesting site:

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