December 4, 2003 at 1:19 p.m.
Wyoming Township Board Chairman Larry Parker said he was completely taken-aback by the decision and had received nothing from the city hinting at this action.
Parker did attend the city council meeting last week and was given opportunity to comment.
Parker stated from the audience seating, “We will not roll over on this...we will prevail...you have never heard from township residents that they want to live in the city... if they did they would have bought houses here instead of in the township.”
Attorney Hood explained that the first step in a contested case annexation is mediation.
Parties will see if they are able to “settle their issues.” If not, the annexation moves to a trial phase with an administrative law judge making a ruling.
The first hearing is set for a date within 60 days of filing with the department. The department may order the city and township to meet up to three times over the 60 day period.
How we got here
Prior to their vote, Chisago City council members commented that Wyoming Township refused to allow annexation (city ownership) of land being used for laying a new wastewater pipe into Chisago City, from the Polaris site, to the Chisago Lakes Joint Sewage Treatment Commission plant.
It is apparently a city concern that existing (and new) homes along the new pipe will want to hook-up. There are lingering maintenance and cost-sharing issues surrounding this new pipe that haven’t been answered to Chisago City’s satisfaction.
Council member Karen Dincau also said she supports this hostile annexation because she has concerns for development and land use planning in the community in general.
But, Parker responded, “Wyoming Township is not out in the dark on this.
“We have our own Comprehensive Plan, we do our own zoning and enforcement...it is wrong to sit there and say something like that.”
Council member Sue Skow said the city needs to grow because it has no place to locate business (ie: large business park). “There’s no place else to go to broaden the tax base,” Skow offered.
Council member David Giese reminded Parker about the failed township-city joint business park (proposed years ago for near #22 and #36).
Giese thought it decent of Mayor DuBose to let Parker talk before the council this night, because Giese said he attended a December meeting years ago on the business park plan, and wasn’t recognized by the Wyoming Township Board to speak at all.
Wyoming Township residents living next to the site, upon learning of the business park plan, actively opposed the deal and lobbied then-Senator Janet Johnson not to endorse special tax revenue-sharing legislation. Wyoming Township ultimately back-off from annexing for the business park proposal and planning died.
Parker cautioned city council that the multi-million dollar Polaris project may be affected by this step.
He said Polaris executives may opt for an unencumbered Wisconsin site over being in the midst of annexation arguments, even controversy remotely connected to its project.
Chisago City Mayor Chris DuBose firmly stated that Chisago City supports Polaris; and it was his understanding this filing for annexation will have no impact on Polaris building at the 600-acre wastewater treatment site proposed to be vacated.
Council member Dincau asked Parker, “Are you threatening that project?”
Parker said he wasn’t threatening anything, but the timing of this action will certainly send the wrong message and pipeline right-of-way will likely be involved in litigation under this action.
At the Chisago County Board meeting the day following the council meeting, both Commissioners for the area involved said they were disheartened to hear about the city action.
Commissioner Bob Gustafson wanted to talk with the mayor or some council people before making any comment.
County Board Chair Ben Montzka said it is a shame there are units of government unable to cooperate and that this unilateral action was happening. He said he doesn’t sanction any annexation not desired by the affected property owners.
In other matters:
Wyoming Mayor Vern Haag and Council member Lynn Koalska attended under informal agenda consideration.
The two requested a resolution by council paving the way for Wyoming to proceed with sewer treatment commission membership. Haag was informed that council has already supported that and was given a copy of an August action item passed by the Chisago Council.
~ Marc Porath, Rocky J’s, applied for a 10 a.m. Sunday license. A public hearing was called and there was no public comment on the “early” liquor service.
Porath said he’ll have a kitchen installed come spring 2004 and he wanted to get his licenses all lined up.
Chisago City will amend its Sunday liquor sales ordinance to allow for the Rocky J’s hours to be added. The okay is contingent on Porath having full food service up and running.
~ Council okayed proceeding with a residential apartment on the upper level of the Municipal Building, to rent out.
Because the city leases space on the second floor of the city offices-- that footage is taxed. Staff told council taxes went up considerably on the second floor valuation and more income needs to be derived. Police storage will be relocated to the lower level.
Council directed staff to price some things like a washer and dryer and report back on the potential for revenue from an apartment.
~ A request for reconsideration of the Lamoreaux variance was denied. The council was also told there’s been legal action commenced for non-removal.
~ A Park Board playground equipment recommendation was okayed. The Surfland Park should be seeing about $5,000 in new apparatus whenever installation becomes possible.