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Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 25, 2005

Winsted annexations delayed; township seeks more reimbursement

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

Two annexation petitions remain on the table for the Winsted Township Board after the Winsted City Council decided to hold off rescinding its offers Tuesday.

The two properties the council submitted to the township for annexation into the city are the James and Ruth Baird property, located near the northwest side of Winsted, and the Alice Lueck property, located just south of Winsted on McLeod County Road 1.

Winsted Township officials have not adopted a resolution accepting the annexation petitions, which has caused delays in the closings of both properties, according to City Administrator Brent Mareck.

From the time the city council passed its resolutions, the township board has a 90-day period which to review the petition, and either make a similar resolution in favor of the city annexing the property, or to file a grievance.

If a grievance would be filed, the issue would most likely go to mediation, and result in a significant financial impact and lost time on the project, according to a memo Mareck presented to the council.

The township could also let the review period expire with no comment, and the properties would become officially annexed following state review.

Several township officials were present at the meeting to discuss the annexation issues with the council.

“We’re here tonight to open the channel of communication with the city council to begin working toward an annexation agreement with the city,” said recently elected township supervisor Tony Hausladen.

The council felt it had no problems working toward an orderly annexation agreement with the township, just not on the two parcels of land that have already been presented to the township. Both city and township officials felt the annexation agreement is something that should have been looked at before this.

“The one thing we don’t need is the city and township fighting,” Ollig said.

Township supervisor Mike Laxen said it is the township board’s intent to solicit public input before its next meeting and make a decision there.

“Not knowing the outcome of what that meeting is going to be, we will probably rescind the annexation agreements we gave you,” Guggemos said. “I think it’s what we’re going to have to do to move on.”

Guggemos outlined the process that takes place if a city and township cannot reach an agreement, noting the city can annex up to 60 acres of land simply by passing an ordinance.

“That would bring it to the same time frame we told these folks (the developers) originally,” Guggemos said.

Reimbursement issues

With an orderly annexation agreement comes stipulations and compromise on the parts of both entities involved.

State law requires a township to receive what amounts to two-and-a-half years of taxes on the annexed property. The township is asking for $250 per acre, which for the 48-acre Baird property is a difference of $9,960. For the 114-acre Lueck property, the difference is $27,984. Township portion of the taxes on the Baird property is $81, and on the Lueck property $207.

“What is the justification for more compensation?” asked Council Member Tom Ollig.

Hausladen said that the township has had those properties and infrastructure for many years, but now with those properties being taken away, the township still needs to maintain the same number of roads and provide fire protection.

Guggemos intended to ask the council to withdraw the two petitions it gave the township board, but acting on the advice of City Attorney Fran Eggert, decided to leave the petitions on the table, and set a special city council meeting Tuesday, April 26 at 7 p.m. to discuss the annexation issues.

A joint meeting was set between the city council and the township board for Tuesday, May 10 at 7 p.m.

Laxen requested the township attorney be present at the special meeting, as the attorney has been involved with other orderly annexation agreements, to which the city had no arguments.

In the future, a special board may be created, consisting of several members of the city council, several members of the township board and, potentially, Ray Bayerl, the county commissioner who represents the area, to begin the process toward an orderly annexation agreement.

“I think it’s a start,” Hausladen said. “We have to start somewhere.”


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