BAXTER -- After weeks of speculation over whether Brainerd or Baxter would annex the site of the proposed Menards store, it appears the building supply store is now back in Baxter.
In an emergency meeting this morning, the Baxter City Council accepted a petition for annexation signed by several members of the Tank family, which includes the proposed Menards site where the former Deerland animal park is now located on Highway 371 North. The property owners had previously petitioned to become annexed into the city of Brainerd.
Those family members who signed the annexation petition include Wayne Tank, Gene A. Tank, Elizabeth Tank, Frieda Tank, Evelynne G. Tank and Faye Knickmeier. A public hearing on the annexation petition was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 23. The last signatures on the petition for annexation were obtained on Saturday which is why the emergency meeting was called today, said City Administrator Larry Kruse.
In addition, the council voted to annex about 540 acres north of the city, but the move is intended as an effort to involve the Minnesota Planning Office, Crow Wing County, Unorganized Territory and the city of Brainerd in deciding where the boundaries need to be.
The annexation begins a formal process where Minnesota Planning will intervene and identify those boundaries. The procedure temporarily stops 60-acre annexations in cases where there is no immediate plan to provide municipal services to those sites.
Kruse said Brainerd City Administrator Dan Vogt has expressed interest in both cities working together, along with Minnesota Planning, to resolve boundary issues.
Brainerd Mayor James Wallin said he welcomes Minnesota Planning representatives stepping in and helping to resolve boundary issues between both cities so each city can move forward and grow.
"I look forward to it," said Wallin. "It should have been done a long time ago."
Wallin said he personally has mixed feelings about how the Menards annexation issue was handled.
"I still feel we're one big community," said Wallin. "Whether Menards is in Brainerd or Baxter, most people can't tell the difference anyway."
Under the Minnesota Open Meeting law, an emergency meeting is a special meeting called because of circumstances that, in the judgment of the public body, require immediate consideration by the public body. Kruse said the council opted to call the emergency meeting today to act on both issues. A regular meeting of the Baxter City Council is scheduled for Tuesday.
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