BARROWS -- If it's true that you can't fight city hall, the least you can do is irritate them a little.
That's what Crow Wing Township Board Chair Scott Pakarinen figured Tuesday after expressing frustration over the city of Brainerd's recent letter to the township concerning the proposed annexation of 640 acres of property owned by Lively Auto/Mills into the city.
Lively Auto/Mills has petitioned the city for annexation of about 640 acres that abuts the city's southern border so the property can be sold to a developer. The township, which previously met with the city about an orderly annexation agreement, made several requests to the city so it could have some say in how the land is developed if annexed.
Those concerns included how property taxes would be phased out from the township to the city, how much park land would be set aside, how increased traffic would be addressed, how setbacks to wetlands would be handled and if Brainerd's wastewater treatment plant could handle 640 acres of new residential property.
In a letter dated July 6, the Brainerd City Council rejected the township's requests.
Pakarinen said if the township doesn't authorize an orderly annexation agreement for the 640 acres, which accounts for 1/20th of the township's land, the city could legally annex the property 60 acres at a time without the township board's consent.
"Of course we don't like it," Pakarinen said of the annexation. "We can't stop it. We can slow it down and make it miserable for them but can't stop it. ... Let's be real here, we're not going to outmuscle Mills or the city with money."
"It sort of sounds like, 'Thanks for letting us know but we're making the decisions,'" Mark Platta, a township supervisor, said of Brainerd's letter.
"I love Brainerd," Pakarinen said sarcastically.
Platta said the township wants to make sure the development of this wooded property into city blocks and neighborhoods doesn't harm Buffalo Lake, Buffalo Creek and also the Mississippi River, which the property abuts. He said the township also is concerned that several neighboring properties would be forced to be annexed into the city because they would become surrounded by annexed land.
The township board prepared a written statement to be sent to the city that explains the township is attempting to work with Lively Auto/Mills to find a way to keep the property in the township, rather than turn over governmental control to the city. The township has a new comprehensive plan and the letter explains how this property could be developed into cluster-style developments to provide a balance between the landowners' desire to earn the maximum income from the property sale and the area residents' desire to see the property remain in the township.
"I don't care if we get a penny," Pakarinen said of new taxes Crow Wing Township would receive if the development stayed in the township. "It's encroaching on our way of life here. It's bringing the urban sprawl here. We don't want that."
Township supervisors also were upset that the city of Brainerd presented them with a map that Platta called "misleading," which showed several township residents living within city boundaries. Platta questioned whether that was an intentional move on the part of the city, that the map implied it was a matter of time before much more township land would become annexed by Brainerd.
"People here tonight are going to be eaten alive (by Brainerd)," said Pakarinen. "And they're like me, they love Brainerd."
The township board opted to not make any decisions about the proposed annexation agreement and left it up to the city of Brainerd to take the next step toward an agreement by arranging a meeting.
JODIE TWEED can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
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