New Market Council responds to township’s annexation conditions

By Patrick Fisher

The New Market City Council gave its official response to New Market Township last week regarding the proposed annexation of 120 acres west of the city, which would include land for an elementary school.

The council unanimously approved a response that states there are policy and legal concerns to the conditions placed on the annexation by the township board.

The township board approved the annexation after several meetings with the school district and On-Site Marketing, a private developer that has been working with the school district on the annexation of 120 acres, with 60 acres designated for a school site. The township placed four conditions on the annexation agreement.

-That the school be built on the 60-acre site originally discussed for a school in 2003, before the first bond referendum failed.

-That 250th Street be paved with bituminous from Scott County Road 27 to Dakota Avenue, and Dakota Avenue would be paved from the present city limits to 250th street.

-That all construction vehicles be instructed to stay off those roads until they are paved.

-That the valuation of the school property be included in the city’s valuation when it comes to assessing how much the city and township pay for their fire contract.

New Market City Administrator Tom Terry said that the first condition could tie the city’s hands in making good public policy decisions. According to the response the city reviews development proposals as they are presented and so far it has not seen one from On-Site Marketing concerning the school. The official response said “The location of the school within the proposed development area would be reviewed in the context of the overall development, surrounding land uses (current and future) infrastructure, transportation, parks, trials and a number of other considerations.”the council said dictating the location of the school before the city has looked at a plan could limit the city's ability to make sound decisions regarding the project.

For the second condition it was noted that the proposed roads were not adjacent to the city, or the development and did not connect to the roads leading into the project area. Also, the city has no statutory authority to have the developer pay for the costs of improving roads outside the city or that are not part of a proposed plat.

For the third condition, the council said the condition was something the city could work with the township on and would normally address, but said it was unusual and inappropriate to include it in the annexation.

The fourth condition was, according to the city, “totally unrelated to the issue of annexation and is contrary to the general terms of the fire service contracts the city has had with the township in the past and the other local government units it currently serves.”

The city feared it could set a precedent and if other annexations or communities were to ask for such a stipulation, it could make it difficult to provide the revenue to provide adequate fire service.

Terry said the township has real concerns as to the impact of expanding urban development on the surrounding rural area. He said such issues could be addressed through the city's review process and encouraged the township to become a strong participant in the process.

Councilmember Tom Michaud said he understood there had been a change in the township board. The board held its annual elections the previous day and incumbent Supervisor Joel Helmberger was defeated by George Silverness. Helmberger, chair of the board, was among those who asked for the conditions in the annexation order by a 2-1 vote.

Ted Kowalski of On-Site Marketing, said they would try to re-present their annexation request to the board by possibly trying to get a special meeting with them as soon as possible. He added that it was also important that the board hear the city’s official response.

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