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Grey Cloud seeks to end annexation hearings

Grey Cloud Island Township wants to end two years of expense and court actions regarding annexation of 300 acres of land into St. Paul Park.

The town board, at its February meeting, set forth a plan to help some annexed residents keep the effects of change to a minimum.

Board members voted to ask Bruce Magnusson, township attorney, to send St. Paul Park a letter asking for an "orderly annexation," a legal term meaning the township doesn't object.

The letter concerns 14 homes and one other isolated parcel of land, now surrounded by land ordered annexed to the city a year ago.

The administrative law judge who heard the case included land, not owned by petitioner Gordon Nesvig into the petition because it would be surrounded by the city. State annexation law allows adding small areas of land not included in original petitions.

In an effort to try to hang on to the land along the Mississippi River, owned by Gordon Nesvig and slated for development by D.R. Horton, the township took the matter to the state appellate court.

The ruling upheld the annexation as many in the township feared it would, but there was an exception. The court said the city should have held public hearings to hear comments from isolated homeowners.

After the ruling, St. Paul Park City Administrator Barry Sittlow said the city, under annexation law, could pass an ordinance to absorb the isolated property, but would put off action until it heard from the township.

At the February meeting, Town Board Chair Dick Adams said the township was notified that an administrative law judge plans to hold a hearing at 9:30 a.m., April 22, to hear from isolated residents and set another hearing at some time in the future.

The town board reviewed a letter from Magnusson suggesting the township stop any further legal action and ask for an orderly annexation but only if the property remains in the township until it is slated for municipal sewer and water associated with development.

"It might be several more years into the future and at least people would not be bothered unless it was really necessary," according to Magnusson's letter.

Town board members agreed it would probably save money by paying $500 to Magnusson to write a letter to the city with the proposal rather than pay its share of another hearing process.

Magnusson negotiated the same type of development-scheduled annexation between the City of Stillwater and Stillwater Township, according to Adams.

Tom Bell, former town board member and current planning commission member, said the township should probably give isolated residents "their day in court."

"I don't think anyone wants this litigation to go on any longer," Adams said.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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