Our view: Now in court, annexation dust-up reinforces anti-biz repAccurate or not, the Duluth area’s long-time knock as a tough place to do business has only been brought to the fore and reinforced by the dust-up over 68 acres in Midway Township.
Accurate or not, the Duluth area’s long-time knock as a tough place to do business has only been brought to the fore and reinforced by the dust-up over 68 acres in Midway Township.
Sorry, did that say “in Midway Township”? The land at the center of the controversy, the land that’s reportedly being eyed by a big-box retailer, actually is in Proctor.
It was in Midway. But then Proctor annexed it. And the state quickly signed off on the annexation. This led to a temporary restraining order and a challenge of the annexation. That was followed last week by a request in court from Duluth and Midway to replace the restraining order with an injunction to give the court more time to reconsider the annexation. District Court Judge Shaun Floerke still is deciding.
And he’s doing so amid a host of hard and hurt feelings that have been playing out, quite publicly, for several long months.
Midway says it’s the victim of a land grab that could lead to a loss of sales taxes. “We should discuss common concerns,” township Supervisor James Aird said. “All we were looking for was to have a voice and to have someone hear it.”
Proctor Mayor Dave Brenna is ticked at Midway for challenging the annexation. “They don’t want anything,” he charged. “They’re back in 1957.”
Brenna is ticked, too, at Duluth. “They don’t ask us how to run their city, and we don’t need them to tell us how to run ours,” he said. “It’s none of Duluth’s business how we develop our city.”
Duluth Mayor Don Ness is concerned about “piecemeal” development along Interstate 35, one of Duluth’s busiest entrances. “This is not what good neighbors do. They work together to find solutions,” Ness said.
Developer Seth Oliver, who won’t name the big-box retailer considering bringing 100 jobs and more than
$1 million of private investment to the region, also seems mad at Duluth. A delay could scuttle the whole deal, he said.
“Why does Duluth have to stick its nose in where it doesn’t belong?” Oliver asked. “For the city (of Duluth) to say it’s business-friendly and that it wants economic growth when it’s trying to take this kind of approach to development is hypocritical.”
Meanwhile, a big-box retailer out there, somewhere (it knows who it is even if the rest of us can only speculate) has to be watching all this fighting and sniping and has to be asking itself: Do I want to do business there?
How many other potential employers — large and small, now and over the years — have asked themselves the same thing? Is it any wonder the Duluth area can’t shake its anti-business reputation?