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SB residents’ detachment petition denied

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news Two Harbors, 55616
Two Harbors Minnesota 109 Waterfront Dr. 55616

Ken Vogel

In October 2013, a group of Silver Bay residents initiated a petition eventually resulting in a detachment proposal from the municipality. Last week, the City of Silver Bay responded to the petition.

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The residents said that although they make a substantial contribution to the city’s tax base, they do not receive some city services such as water and sewer, and therefore see little reason to remain on the city’s tax rolls. The properties in question are located in the northeast corner of the city limits, off of Mt. Rockwood road.

According to Minnesota statute, the petition must list the petitioners’ reasons for requesting detachment and the properties involved must be rural in character, and not developed or intended for urban residential, commercial or industrial purposes. Resident David Drown said that the properties meet these requirements as they are, in effect, an island of residential lots surrounded by undeveloped property, state park and forest land, so development by the city or private owners is unlikely.

On May 5, the Silver Bay City Council adopted resolution 2014-18 opposing the detachment request, placing the matter in the hands of the Beaver Bay Township Board of Supervisors for a decision to accept, oppose or remain neutral. On May 8, the Beaver Bay Township Board heard remarks concerning the matter and recessed before conducting a vote. Four days later, the board voted to oppose the detachment proposal. Petitioner Nelson French said he was disappointed with the decision of the board.

“Our goal all along was to enter into a discussion and a dialog with the City to develop an alternative to detachment. Unfortunately that never happened,” he said, adding that he was hopeful that a tax rate adjustment for the petitioners could be agreed upon since they do not receive some city services.

Mayor Joanne Johnson said that services such as water and sewer are user-based fees and not tax based.

City Administrator Lana Fralich said the City opposed the petitioner’s request for detachment because it was not in the best interest of the community. According to Fralich, the City’s biggest concern was related to the loss of tax base and population.

“The tax dollars gained by the Beaver Bay Township are only a fraction of what the City of Silver Bay would lose, thus resulting in a loss of tax dollars to our entire area,” she told the News-Chronicle.

Fralich also said that the City did engage in conversations with the residents to discuss the options.

“The petitioners were willing to entertain a special taxing district set by the city, but it had to be beneficial and not guaranteed because detachment was where the majority of the petitioner’s wanted to go,” she said.

Fralich indicated that both options were new avenues for the City and it took some of time to review laws, as well as cases of detachment and the establishment of special tax districts. She said that after intensive review, the City determined that neither option would be in its best interest.

“Since these were the only options of the petitioners, there really was nothing more for the City to do and that response was provided to the petitioners,” she said. “We needed to keep the entire city in mind, not just a select group.”

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