Herald JournalHerald Journal, May 12, 2003

Howard Lake tightens its belt, approves Middleville annexation

By Lynda Jensen

Howard Lake City Council also passed a joint resolution with Middleville Township regarding a 10-year orderly annexation agreement for land north of town.

Previously, the council approved a draft, which was also approved by Middleville Township last Monday night with one change, and then amended by Howard Lake Tuesday to accommodate the change.

The change, at the wish of the township, was to omit language that allowed the city to annex land parcels that were a half mile away from developments or improved areas.

"They felt this was leap frogging," Bahn commented of township officials.

This leaves the city with the ability to annex land that is only adjacent to the city limits or along a logical extension of utility lines.

The agreement details specific criteria to how land qualifies to be annexed into the city limits and how the city will compensate the township for their loss of taxes.

The city's policy will be to pass this expense on to the developer as a cost of doing annexation in Howard Lake, Bahn said.

The following is a summary of what is outlined in the agreement.

· For unimproved land (Ag property) the city must receive a petition from a majority of the landowners, the property must be located within the orderly annexation area, and be adjacent to the city.

For these annexations, the city has agreed to compensate the township in a one lump sum equal to $200 per acre until June 30, 2008, at which time this number will be adjusted to equal the amount being compensated in surrounding townships and will apply to all annexations from July 1, 2008 until December 31, 2013.

· For the existing improved properties (residential homes and businesses) the city must receive a petition from 51 percent of land owners if the home is in a designated section or 100 percent of landowners for all other improved properties.

The properties must also be located in the orderly annexation area and adjacent to the city.

For these annexations the city has agreed to compensate the township by taking the annexed property's current year taxes and sharing that over a period of five years using a sliding scale. The first year the city would give 90 percent, the second year 70 percent, the third year 50 percent, the forth year 30 percent and the fifth year 10 percent.

· The city is limited in the amount of land that can be annexed each year to a rate of no more than 120 acres.

· It was agreed that the city will improve a township road that serves a new development, and the township will maintain any gravel shared road, the city will maintain any improved shared road, and the responsibility of snow plowing shared roads will be determined at the time of annexation.

Copies of the original document will be available to the public by contacting city hall or the township hall, she said.

Annexation is always sensitive issue for cities and townships, and due to friendly cooperation and negotiating from both boards, the township and city have been able to create a positive agreement that will provide for the orderly growth of the area and benefit the entire community, Bahn said.

Munson's wishes to burn old elevator

The council also heard from Munson Lakes Nutrition General Manager Dave Pruess.

Pruess presented the council with the idea of burning the old elevator, possibly in cooperation with the local fire department or Anoka Technical College, which could do a controlled burn.

He spoke with 10 of 12 adjacent land owners who were OK with the idea, Pruess said.

The Howard Lake Fire Department must OK the idea.

The elevator has been un-insurable for three years and after the June storms last year, was condemned by Munson's, Pruess said.

Since Munson's owns many elevators, it is very familiar with this procedure and is currently talking with the railroad about the idea, Pruess said.

The venture would require the approval of a host of state and local officials, as well as the railroad.

He's seen this done many times and is confident the situation could be worked out, Pruess said.

Council Member Shelly Reddemann objected to the idea, saying that smoke would generate for days, and this would affect food production at Sonstegard Foods, among many other things.

"You're going to have a lot of smoke," Reddemann said. He pointed out the closest usable hydrant would be more than a block away, because the nearest one would be too hot to use.

"It'll take a lot of water to protect homes all around," Reddemann said. He asked Pruess if Munson's is willing to pay the fire department for extended service.

Munson's is willing to pay for its share, he said.

Reddemann was skeptical the smoke would clear that soon.

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