SPP/Grey Cloud annexation agreement ends years of legal actionAfter nine years of legal action over the annexation of about 600 acres of land from Grey Cloud Island Township into St. Paul Park, officials from both governments last week agreed to end the conflict.
After nine years of legal action over the annexation of about 600 acres of land from Grey Cloud Island Township into St. Paul Park, officials from both governments last week agreed to end the conflict.
Landowner Gordon Nesvig first petitioned the city for the annexation.
St. Paul Park held a public hearing at city hall last Tuesday, a step that an appeals court said the city should have taken earlier in the process.
During the legal process, an administrative judge added two portions of land to the annexation that otherwise would have become islands of Grey Cloud Island Township surrounded by St. Paul Park land. The public hearing was for the landowners in what would have been those islands of land.
Based on appeals from isolated residents to remain in the township, St. Paul Park agreed to leave the islands in the township until there is a formal proposal from D.R, Horton to begin development.
Kenny Sheldahl, who owns a defunct junk yard in the city, and two homes in the township, said he was not notified of the public hearing.
“Not one of us had a say,” Sheldahl told Administrative Law Judge George Beck. “It’s a violation of our rights. It was wrong from the beginning.”
“You’re not living in the homes now?” asked Nesvig.
“No,” Sheldahl said.
Dana Isaacs, speaking on behalf of his father, Warren, said his father prefers to remain in the township.
Beck asked township attorney Dave Magnusson and City Attorney Jim Shiely to submit final documents within two weeks.
Nesvig, after the hearing, said D.R. Horton has not contacted him about a timeline to begin development.
After landowner Nesvig petitioned the state’s commission for municipal boundary adjustments for the first 300 acres south of the city’s border, there were a series of court objections from the township.
The township ran out of legal remedies and D.R. Horton, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, came up with a plan for 1,500 homes, multiple dwellings and some retail for the initial 300 acres and for the remaining property on the west side of County Road 75 next to the Mississippi River after Nesvig petitioned for the second 300 acres.
After the second petition, the township appealed an administrative law judge’s order to have the land annexed to the city and took the matter to the state court of appeals, hoping judges would find an error that would send the case back to be re-tried.
The appeals court re-affirmed the annexation in November of last year, but said the city should have held a public hearing.
When rendering the decision on the second petition, the judge added 21 land parcels that would have been township islands surrounded by land in the city. The land also included 30 acres owned by Nesvig and 1.2 acres owned by Warren Isaacs, also isolated property.
After the hearing, Nesvig said, in an interview, that the judge acted correctly when islands of land were included in his petition. Attorneys for both governments, however, failed to note the public hearing requirement, he said.
After the November decision, township attorney Dave Magnusson, said chances were very slim for the township to win an appeal to the state supreme court.
Instead, he suggested the township, on behalf of the 14 isolated homeowners in the three and one-half-block section of the township, agree to an “orderly” annexation of the remaining 300 acres.