Local view: Proctor annexation raises questionsAs a Midway Township supervisor, I attend Proctor City Council meetings in an effort to keep communication lines open between our communities and to avoid misunderstandings that often have led to annexation disputes. The following is my view and may or may not represent the views of the entire Town Board.
By: Jim Aird, Duluth News Tribune
As a Midway Township supervisor, I attend Proctor City Council meetings in an effort to keep communication lines open between our communities and to avoid misunderstandings that often have led to annexation disputes. The following is my view and may or may not represent the views of the entire Town Board.
In October 2011, Seth Oliver came to a Proctor City Council meeting. He was listed on the agenda as promoting an annexation request to bring his property from Midway to Proctor. It was my understanding the city of Proctor knew about this request for some time. So much for open communications. Proctor promptly approved the motion to annex the property for a commercial development, and all council members stated it would be good for Proctor’s tax base.
I suggested Oliver should have spoken to Midway first.
In the subsequent public appeal hearing, our citizens were given three minutes to address Proctor councilors. The councilors made little attempt to hide their disinterest in any point we wished to make. They decided to move forward, and they approved the annexation request again. One was left to wonder how an appeal to the same city body that took the action in the first place could be considered any kind of a fair hearing. Their minds were made up. Nothing that was said, or could have been said, would have changed their minds, including the questionable legal description of the property being annexed. On this point, the legal description has changed no less than three times, and it is still questionable if the property even abuts Proctor “at a point,” as we keep hearing claimed.
With no opportunity to have a hearing before an impartial board, our only option was to go to court.
The News Tribune’s March 27 editorial (Our View: “Now in court, annexation dust-up reinforces anti-biz reputation”) suggested Midway was concerned with a loss of sales tax. Midway has no sales tax. The editorial also included a quote in which the mayor of Proctor indicated we in Midway were somehow against development. Not true. In fact, we would likely support, or at least not oppose, development in Proctor.
Our opposition here is simply to the taking of Midway property for “the good” of Proctor. Proctor’s mayor has indicated Duluth should stay out of Proctor’s business, when all Duluth Mayor Don Ness has asked for was a conversation on the plans to develop the entrance to the two cities.
It seems a bit ironic that Proctor objects to Duluth’s interest in a property that abuts Duluth’s Spirit Mountain and trail system much more than it does Proctor, “at a point,” yet seems to see nothing wrong with its own action in taking land from a neighboring community, without our consent, for its own economic gain.
Midway’s comprehensive plan has, for some 40 years, listed this property as rural residential, as it was when the Oliver family purchased it. Our planning and zoning allows for change when appropriate; however, we were never asked.
With commercial property readily available, and for sale, on the Proctor part of the Interstate 35 corridor, with all utilities in place, and zoned commercial, does it make sense for a business to choose a property outside the borders of the city of Proctor, that isn’t currently zoned commercial, that requires utilities be brought across Interstate 35, and that necessitates the city to expand its borders into a neighboring township? Am I missing something here?
Jim Aird is a supervisor for Midway Township.