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House passes annexation bill

Published (5/6/2011)
By Nick Busse
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Property owners whose land sits on a municipal boundary line might have an easier time having it detached and annexed from one city to another.

Sponsored by Rep. Larry Howes (R-Walker), and passed by the House 79-51 May 2, HF753 would allow property owners to petition to have their land detached and annexed as long as one of the two affected municipalities supports the switch. Current law states that both must agree.

With the support of a resolution from one of the affected cities, a property owner could take their case to an administrative law judge, who would have the power to order the detachment and annexation.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Sean Nienow (R-Cambridge) is the sponsor.

Howes said the proposed change is one of two recommendations from the Municipal Boundary Adjustment Advisory Task Force — a bipartisan panel assembled by the Legislature to review annexation laws. The task force issued its final report in 2009.

Rep. Bev Scalze (DFL-Little Canada) said she opposes the bill because it would reverse a 2006 law that requires both municipalities to agree to an annexation. She said that law is intended to prevent small cities from having to waste money on legal fees fighting annexation by larger cities in court.

“This is chipping away at that process where the Legislature and the governor and all the parties agreed to handle annexation,” she said.

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