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Landowners take legal action against city

Landowners and businesses filed legal action this week in an attempt to temporarily stop Dickinson's annexation of about 325 acres north of town and the city's legal counsel said it will stand its ground.

A civil complaint and motion for temporary injunction filed Wednesday against the city of Dickinson alleges it annexed in a "hasty manner" and "violated North Dakota's annexation laws in more than several respects," with primary violations relating to due process and jurisdiction, according to the motion for injunction.

The motion alleges the city failed to notify landowners, allegedly failed to notify and obtain written consent from the state to annex a portion of Highway 22 and allegedly placed annexation contingencies on land plats and zoning requests.

"What they've asked the court to do with their injunction is to issue an order that would prevent the annexation from going forward while we litigate out all the other issues that they've alleged in their complaint," City Attorney Matt Kolling said Friday.

During an October City Commission meeting, Mayor Dennis Johnson said the city's goal "is to have the city grow in an orderly, fine manner."

The city is standing its ground.

"We intend to defend the position that we've taken all along that the annexation was compliant with North Dakota Century Code," Kolling said. "We believe that ultimately the court should not grant injunctive relief in the matter."

Dickinson attorney Sandra Kuntz, who is representing more than a dozen businesses and landowners in the motion, was unavailable for comment Friday.

The city has 10 days to file a response to the motion of injunction with the court and will be doing so next week, Kolling said.

"Our response will set forth the legal argument why we think that the plaintiffs are not entitled to the injunction that they're looking for here," Kolling said. "We intend to file the response fully meeting the challenges that the landowners have met here. For the details on that, we'll be filing that in court and I won't have any comment on that other than what we file in court."

Kolling said the motion requested oral arguments and once the city's response is filed, Kolling anticipates the court will set a date for such.

It is unclear what process the city will take if the motion for temporary injunction is granted.

Johnson did not want to speculate and deferred all questions to Kolling since the issue has now become a legal matter.

City Administrator Shawn Kessel said Friday it is difficult to comment on a judge's theoretical decision.

"I will say the city is committed to decisions that allow us to respond to the growth we are experiencing and the growth we are expecting," Kessel wrote in an e-mail. "The quantity of land within current city boundaries is not adequate for industrial or commercial growth."

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