City of Carlton revokes contested annexation of Twin Lakes TownshipSome 300 residents of Twin Lakes Township filled the Carlton County Transportation Building on Highway 61 last Wednesday evening because of concerns that their township would be annexed to the city of Carlton. By midday Thursday, however, councilors for the city of Carlton had passed a motion to revoke their intent to initiate a contested annexation.
By: June Kallestad, Lisa Baumann and Wendy Johnson Pine Journal , Pine Journal
Some 300 residents of Twin Lakes Township filled the Carlton County Transportation Building on Highway 61 last Wednesday evening because of concerns that their township would be annexed to the city of Carlton.
By midday Thursday, however, councilors for the city of Carlton had passed a motion to revoke their intent to initiate a contested annexation.
“Members of our town board met Thursday morning with the Carlton City Council,” explained Twin Lakes Township Clerk Diane Felde-Finke, “and it was a very productive meeting.”
Felde-Finke said basically the two groups decided to put the annexation issue on hold and address the most pressing issue at hand, which is a proposed water line from Carlton to the Highway 210 business corridor and the location of a proposed county business park development.
“We agreed to have our attorneys draw up an agreement that will enable us to go ahead with the design process for the water line, which is necessary in order to access grant funding,” she said.
She explained the understanding reached by the two groups was that the city of Carlton would basically cover the design fees for the portion of the water line from the water tower to the current city limits, estimated at $40,000, with the township and/or county responsible for the design fees for the balance of the line, approximately $214,000.
“We are committed to that amount,” added Carlton City Council member Kirk Johnson.
The two groups also agreed to form a six-person committee of city and township representatives to discuss the pros and cons of initiating an orderly annexation “sometime down the road,” said Felde-Finke.
“This is a fact-finding committee to see what makes sense for both communities,” she said.
Annexation process explained
At last Wednesday night’s informational meeting, attorney Tony Gilchrist of Kennedy and Graven, Minneapolis, explained the two methods of annexation. In a contested case annexation, Gilchrist said the final decision is made by a judge who goes through a factual process based on 16 criteria to determine whether or not the annexation makes sense for the communities.
He said in some cases, the judge rules against the annexation if it’s clear the city cannot meet the needs of the community being annexed.
The second method is called an orderly annexation in which the two parties come to an agreement about how much land and in what increments to annex to the city without judicial procedures.
“The orderly annexation is a much more civil, thoughtful way of annexation. It’s a very flexible tool,” said Gilchrist.
Township residents’ concerns about annexation were the probability of a property tax increase, city ordinances on the use of fire arms, and livestock and pet ordinances that may affect their lifestyle.
“Change is going to happen,” said township resident Cliff Tanner. “Let’s guide the change instead of letting it happen to us.”
Reasons for annexation
At the start of the meeting, Felde-Finke explained the board’s opinion about why Carlton wants to annex the township. She said they think it’s related to the water tower built by the city with the capacity to provide water for future development along the Highway 210 corridor.
Johnson said this week the Township Board knew years ago of the plans for annexation as well as the reasons.
He said that talks commenced about the idea in 2004 and they last formally discussed it with attorneys at a Dec. 2 meeting.
As for the reasons, Johnson said economic development is the only way for Carlton to grow and prosper.
“If we want our tax base to grow – we need annexation,” he said. “We’re basically exercising a right to grow.”
He added that growth would be beneficial to the entire area.
“We’re looking to the future,” he said. “Part of the reason everyone is so strapped is for the lack of a tax base.”