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Duluth's annexation of 240 acres approved

Duluth grew in size by 240 acres on May 30, when Chief Administrative Law Judge Tammy Pust signed an order approving the city's proposed annexation of land from neighboring Rice Lake Township.

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Duluth grew in size by 240 acres on May 30, when Chief Administrative Law Judge Tammy Pust signed an order approving the city’s proposed annexation of land from neighboring Rice Lake Township.
Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson received notice of the decision Thursday and said the annexation was a product of collaboration with Rice Lake Township officials.
“This is a solution that will work for both parties, at least in our opinion, and I think it’s going to be good for the citizens of Duluth and for our operations. So it’s a real win-win in my mind,” he said.
John Werner, vice-chairman of the Rice Lake Township Board of Supervisors, said the annexation request needed to be approved before authorities could rule on the township’s filing to incorporate as a city. He noted that Rice Lake Township applied for the jurisdictional governance change in January.
“Now we sit waiting for our paperwork. When that will come, your guess is as good as mine, but we hope it comes sooner rather than later,” Werner said.
The property Duluth has annexed is home to several city-owned soccer fields, a ball field, a maintenance building, some land belonging to the University of Minnesota Duluth and a berry farm operation.
Duluth Mayor Don Ness welcomed news of the annexation.
“It has always made me uncomfortable that the city has spent a lot of money on that parkland and maintaining the fields up there and yet it wasn’t in the city limits. So I see this as a relatively small adjustment but as one that makes sense for both communities,” he said.
Earlier, the Ness administration had proposed residents consider allowing the city to annex about one-third of Rice Lake Township.
In response to a growing backlash from residents, however, Ness quickly withdrew the proposal.
“It was unfortunate that it became an emotional and political issue, which frustrated any attempt to have a constructive dialogue,” Ness said.
Werner said the push for the township to incorporate as a city came from a desire to guard against any further future annexation attempts by Duluth.

Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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