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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • City declines request by farmer who wants out of Clarkfield city limits

  • Ag land around Clarkfield intended for expansion
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    The Clarkfield City Council adopted a resolution to reject a petition for land to be detached from the city limits at a special Thursday morning meeting.
    “It would set a big precedent,” Mayor Gene Kockleman said. “Our city, as well as many others, is surrounded by ag land. It would open a big can of worms.”
    The property owners, Thomas Rolighed, Laurel Hartfiel and Ruth Wilson, requested that the 67.4 acres of farmland be detached due to growing property taxes, which would be cheaper under the Friendship township.
    The petition also noted that there are no city services or public improvements being provided to the farmland, nor is anyone living there, since the farmhouse is not included in the detachment and is intended to stay a part of Clarkfield.
    In the petition, it was mentioned that Rolighed had spoken to the mayor, a council member and the city attorney about high real estate taxes, although every one denied ever being approached.
    The special meeting was called to because the next regular meeting would be after the date needed to pass a resolution. Failure to pass any resolution would result in a “neutral” position for the city, which would more than likely forfeit the acreage that has been included in the city limits for ages. 
    “That land has been in the city since it was plotted 125 years ago,” Kockleman said. “It is there for expansion.”
    If the Friendship township votes in favor of annexing the land from the City, the case will go to the Municipal Boundary Adjustments (MBA) devision of the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings as a mediation session, where both parties will be represented.
    According to the MBA, an administrative law judge may grant the petition if:
     • The conditions set forth in the petition exist.
    • The detachment would not affect the symmetry of the detaching city.
    • The land is not needed for reasonably anticipated future development of the detaching city.
    At any given point, there are several similar petitions being mediated by the MBA, but it is still quite rare for the a petition to be filed, let alone be accepted, especially when the acreage requested eclipses 50 acres, although the petitions in the area have escalated.
    In the last two months, four other local petitions have been filed, including two for Milan and one in Maynard and Ghent.

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