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Annexation in court

A Stark County judge will review the legality of a Dickinson annexation of about 325 acres north of the city, he said during a hearing at the Stark County Courthouse in Dickinson on Tuesday.

Eighteen landowners are requesting a temporary injunction against the city for an annexation that took place in October and became effective in February, according to records.

Judge Zane Anderson did not make a decision at the hearing, but will review the dispute and issue a written decision, he said. He did not say when.

A temporary injunction prevents damage until a decision is made and prohibits action by either party,

The plaintiffs, who are represented by Sandra Kuntz of Mackoff Kellogg Law Firm in Dickinson, argue that the city did not follow the annexation process.

They say the boundaries were not clearly defined, some landowners were not notified of the annexation, neither was the state of North Dakota and that the resolution was not published as law requires, she said.

The city acknowledges it did not publish the resolution but stands by its decision to annex, said Randall Bakke, of Smith Bakke Porsborg Schweigert & Armstrong Attorneys at Law, Bismarck, which is representing the city.

Even without the resolution being published all parties had ample notice, he said.

The city sent letters to the owners' last known addresses as given to them by the county auditor and added it is not the city's fault if the county got it wrong, Bakke said.

Kuntz also argued that the city coerced some developers into not protesting the annexation. She said that if they would have protested they would not have been able to develop in that area.

Bakke said the city did not coerce anyone, the parties involved even signed an agreement that gave them the right to protest the annexation.

He argued that Kuntz had her own interpretation of what the law reads and that the city of Dickinson did nothing wrong.

In March, city officials began a second annexation process on the same land to keep it in city limits if the court ruled in the plaintiff's favor, according to a previous Press article.

Anderson asked why the city began a second annexation and Bakke said as a precaution in light of the looming litigation.

"The city has a lot at stake," Bakke said.

Plaintiffs Include:

- Northern Improvement Inc.

- Steven Halvorson

- Londa Halvorson

- SLH Properties LLC.

- Henry Brown

- Joyce Brown

- Dale Pottorff

- William Andrus

- Shirley Andrus

- Hauck Family Trust

- Gregory Knutson

- J.B. Property LLC.

- Champion Technologies Inc.

- David Peterson

- Michael Gayda

- H&S Properties LLC

- LP National Oilwell Varco

- Meyer Industries LLC