Township signs orderly annexation and joint powers for airport

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 4/05/00.

The Paynesville Township Board of Supervisors approved two agreements with the city of Paynesville at their meeting on Monday, March 27.

The first, a joint resolution for orderly annexation, passed unanimously with all three supervisors-John Atwood, Warren Nehring, and Don Pietsch-supporting it. The agreement, which had previously been passed by the city council, includes a number of areas of potential annexation that border the city.

Atwood was concerned how property would actually be annexed. The process of annexation originates with the landowners. To do so, a majority of landowners in a parcel must petition for annexation. Then the township board would grant their release, and the city council would need to accept them within the city limits. The annexation must also be approved by the Minnesota Planning Board.

"It just simplifies the process," said city of Paynesville Mayor Jeff Thompson at the township meeting. "There's no intention to annex unless (the land owners) agree with the process."

Key provisions of the orderly annexation agreement are a five-year payment schedule of taxes back to the township and a freezing of that schedule if requested city services (sewer, water, and curb and gutter) are not provided within two years.

Based on the tax payable to the township at the time of annexation, the township will receive 90 percent of the tax in the first year of annexation, 70 percent in the second year, 50 percent in the third year, 30 percent in the fourth, and 10 percent in the fifth. After that, all taxes will go to the city of Paynesville.

If city services are not provided as requested within two years, this schedule will be frozen, with the township receiving 70 percent of the taxes, until such services are provided. The schedule would resume once the services are in place.

Airport agreement
In a 2-1 vote, the supervisors approved a Joint Powers Agreement for the Paynesville Regional Airport Com-mission. Nehring and Pietsch voted in favor of signing the agreement. "I think we need another highway into the community, through the air," said Nehring, in making the motion to approve the agreement.

Atwood voted against the agreement, saying he supported an airport but felt the cost to township residents was too high. He said the township received only $322,000 in taxes and aid each year while the city got $900,000 per year. Based on a ratio of these revenues, he thought the township should pay a maximum of 35 percent of the costs for a new airport, not a 50-50 split as contained in the agreement.

"I've paid taxes for 43 years here," Atwood said. "I can't understand to this day why we're involved in half the costs of the airport."

Pietsch said equal financial responsibility was the cost of equal representation on the airport commission. Pietsch and Steve Brown will represent the township on the board, city council member Dave Peschong and Steve Whitcomb will represent the city, and Bert Stanley will be an at large member.

Pietsch described how the township was on the verge of signing a joint powers agreement with the city for a regional airport last March when annexation concerns prompted the township to back off on the airport. "We had some concerns about what happens if we lose tax base," Pietsch explained. "How do we offset that in a long-term commitment?"

Safeguards in the agreement approved by the township board hinge on a change in the clause about cost sharing. Costs will be split based on the assessed valuation of property in the city and township at the time of the agreement. The only change in the percentage of contribution to costs will be based on the value of land annexed to the city or on land detached back to the township.

The city council approved a previous version of a joint powers agreement a year ago. They are expected to rescind that agreement and approve the version passed by the township at their meeting on April 12.

New road policy
The board wants to set a new precedent in paving new roads in the township. In the past, once a road met the township specifications for width and base, the township would take over the road, pave it, and provide services like snowplowing.

The board felt that the expense of paving the roads should really be paid by those benefiting from the road. Also, the township expects continued residential development in the next ten years, creating the potential for a considerable outlay for tar by the township.

When a county ban on platting new lots is lifted this spring, the board members expressed their desire to require the plat maker to build and pave a road before the township acquires it. "I think people who get advantage for the plot should pay for the tar," said Atwood.

In the meantime, the township set a precedent of splitting the cost of tarring a road for existing plats of record. The tarring, then, would only be done for the entire plat at the request of the property owners.

The board approved donations totalling $9,300 for the coming year. Donations were approved for the civic ice arena ($3,000), the area center ($3,000), community education ($1,700), the Living At Home/Block Nurse program ($1,000), and for the Sauk River Watershed District ($100).

Donation requests need to be made to the township by Dec. 15.

Other business
•The board approved purchasing a pressure washer from Valley Industries for $2,514. The washer had a retail price of $3,859. Valley Industries told the supervisors they were eliminating that particular model.

The decision to purchase the pressure washer was approved by Nehring and Pietsch, while Atwood, who cited an unfamiliarity with the issue since he was new to the board, abstained from voting.

Atwood wondered if the state association could help them get bids or if a used washer could be found. Edward Lang, a township resident in attendance, thought the size of the pressure washer was excessive for the township's needs.

Nehring and Pietsch said the township is trying to establish a working shop. The township had borrowed a pressure washer from Johnnie Olson, a former supervisor, and needed to replace it.

•Jeff Bertram spoke with the board about County Road 124 and the proposed pedestrian trail around Lake Koronis. J & M Consulting, of which Bertram is a partner, agreed to a consulting contract with the township to spearhead the trail project. J & M Consulting will spend five hours a week on the project, while the township committed to spending up to $5,000 for the consulting.

The township has the right to terminate the contract at any point.

Bertram said his priorities would be to firm up the status of County Road 124, determining the expected routes of Highway 23 and 55, and establishing a project committee. He reiterated that he believes in a cautious, deliberate approach, not wanting to have parts of the project ripped up by later road changes and to maximize the project's ability to attract grants.

The township had negotiated an agreement with the county to take over County Road 124 last fall while receiving $292,000 for resurfacing and maintenance. That agreement has not been finalized by the county, and with the rising fuel prices, the township is now concerned that more money will be needed for the road repair and maintenance.

Bertram warned that he has checked and the county can return the road to the township without a payment, as long as it meets certain standards. He thought the township would receive the road at some point anyway. He urged the supervisors to get as big of a lump sum as possible.

•The township will be advertising for help for mowing and light maintenance.

•The township will be holding two public hearings on Monday, April 10, concerning the proposed tower in the southwestern corner of the township. The 360-foot tower exceeds the township's height limits and is a guide tower. The township's ordinance restricts the height to 200 feet and allows only for self-supporting structures. If the tower is approved, the township would need to change its ordinance, and possibly grant a variance.

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