City, homeowners discuss potential annexation
By Brian L. Gray
In order to allow more time to consider its future options, the Mandan City Commission pushed back its decision on a potential annexation of roughly 1,000 acres into the city of Mandan.
The city commission will plan to make a decision during its next meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 6, after more than 33 percent of impacted homeowners submitted letters of protest. For the proposal to be overturned, at least 25 percent of impacted homeowners must protest.
After recognizing the number of protests, the city is now exploring its two options – to drop the annexation or the ask the governor to appoint a mediator in an attempt to find some resolution to the matter.
The city commission held a public hearing regarding the possibility of annexing the land into the city, and about 40 impacted residents were in attendance.
Concerns addressed by residents included the lack of information related to assessment costs, and how the annexation would impact the homeowners.
Dr. Boyd Addy, a resident in the proposed annexation area, said he opposes the annexation. He said he owns horses on his land, and if the city expands into his area he worries ordinances might force him to move the horses.
City Administrator Jim Neubauer pointed out that all lands that are annexed will continue to be zoned the same. “If it’s ag-zoned today, it will remain ag-zoned tomorrow,” he said.
Addy also said the city has not been clear with residents about future development in the proposed area. “We have nothing from anyone what the plans are for the development of the area,” he said.
Resident Nick Renner said he would like to see the city annex the parts of the city that have requested to be annexed, and leave the other homeowners alone. “The obvious solution is to kill the proposal the way it is,” he said. “Then you get with homeowners and redraw those lines, and let the developers annex the city in the parts they require.”
Commissioner Dennis Rohr said while the costs are uncertain, there are benefits to being a part of the city, including services such as police and fire protection. “When you live so close to a city, you take the chance of being a part of the city,” he said.
Dr. Eric Belanger, who owns 266 acres in the involved area and is planning to purchase more land, favors the annexation.
“Bismarck is growing north, so Mandan needs to grow north. It is the logical way for us to expand,” he said. “The best access is through Sunset Drive. This is the best area for Mandan to grow in the next 10 years, and there is tremendous need for the city to grow.”
He said the hilly terrain would make for many great services. “This would be a wonderful place to create green space, a walking and biking path. It’s overall a wonderful area for Mandan to grow,” he said.
If the city decides to go into mediation, the commission would ask the governor to appoint a mediator.
Commissioner Sandy Tibke said she is in favor of mediation. “Mediation is the best way to go, because an outside source can see things that an insider can’t see,” she said.
The city decided to make the proposal to annex the 1,000 acres into the city after several requests have come forward to the city requesting city services, including water, sanitary sewer and streets, in order to develop their property into urban commercial and residential areas.
Following the meeting, the commission voted to take the public comments it received under advisement and make a decision during its next meeting on Aug. 6.