Mandan News

Protests fail to stop large land annexation for Mandan

In a 5-0 vote, the Mandan City Commission on Tuesday determined there was insufficient protest to stop an annexation of 878 acres north of the Mandan Middle school and west of Highway 1806.

The land will officially become annexed after the city files its August annexation resolution to the Morton County Recorder’s Office. City Administrator Jim Neubauer said the property owners in the annexation will first see their city property taxes on their December 2014 tax statements.
Neubauer said 14.6 percent of the landowners submitted written protests against the annexation to the city. To prevent the annexation, they needed 25 percent, he said.

Two previous attempts to annex land in the same area failed – once in 2007 and a second this June, involving 1,000 acres. The city withdrew its 1,000-acre proposal when one-third of property owners protested against it this summer. Staff replaced it with the 878 proposal instead after they said Montana Dakota Utilities said there were other utility options for a Heskett plant expansion.

Developers in the area say they want to be part of the city so they can receive city services like water, sewer and roads.

Landowners said they fear being taxed out of property by special assessments that they don’t need and for projects they won’t use. They said they are self-sufficient without city services.

“This time, they left out the Heskett plant and the refinery because they didn’t want to be in the annexation. We didn’t want to be either,” said Janice Zachmeier, 74, a rural homeowner for 55 years, at a previous meeting. “It is discriminatory.”

She said the rural residents are self-sufficient. They said the city and developers want them added to the city to pay for the public improvements, but they won’t benefit from the improvements.

Before the commission made their final decision. Affected rural residents made more statements against being added to the city.

Linda Morris, a resident there, asked the commission to reconsider annexation because switching to city fire protection would mean installing fire hydrants and replacing water lines for the rural residents.

“We have septic systems. We’ve already paid for them,” she said. Morris said they would have to pay for new water lines for the developers.

Rural resident Nick Renner said the developers’ large parcels outnumbered the rural landowners’ land. “But there’s nobody who lives there. … Right now, you are affecting people’s lives who do live there,” he said. “There are definitely ways this map could have been drawn to leave a lot of these people out of this annexation area.”

Another woman said it took a half an hour for emergency officials to reach an accident victim near her home. She questioned what the city would do to make the area safer. Neubauer said parts of Highway 1806 may need turn lanes or be made into three lanes, but that would depend upon when funding becomes available. He added there was potential for the rural residents to benefit or tie into the public improvements that will be made.

Commissioner Mike Braun made the motion to find the protests insufficient, but said the city would work with the rural landowners to keep their costs down. Braun said it was difficult to give definite costs on future improvements. “We will work very hard to make sure those costs are payable for each one of you,” he said.

By LeAnn Eckroth, Lee News