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Court sides with city

Both parties involved in a Dickinson annexation dispute received word Thursday that the court has ruled in favor of the city.

Eighteen landowners had requested a temporary injunction against the city for the approximate 325-acre annexation north of the city.

Stark County Judge Zane Anderson's ruling prevents reversal of annexation of the industrial and commercial development, according to the city.

"We are very pleased that the court found in our favor and that the millions of dollars in planned developments creating hundreds of jobs can proceed as planned," City Administrator Shawn Kessel said in a press release.

However, the ruling does not end the options for the plaintiffs, since they may still pursue their claims, City Attorney Matthew Kolling said in the release.

The merits of the case are still pending before the court and the case continues to move forward, said Sandra K. Kuntz, a Dickinson attorney representing the plaintiffs.

"It's about principal and holding our elected officials accountable," she said. "Keeping integrity in the process to protect our citizens and those principles are always worth fighting for."

The plaintiffs 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. They also say the resolution was not published as law requires, she said in a previous article.

The annexation process was completed and the land was annexed into the city on Jan. 31. The city began providing police, fire, street maintenance and other general government services to the area beginning in January, according to the press release.

"We respect the decision of the court," said William Gion, spokesperson for the plaintiffs and human resources manager for the Wyoming Casing Service's North Dakota District, which is owned by Steve Halvorson, a plaintiff. "We are disappointed but not discouraged. We know we have other viable legal paths to pursue in this important matter."

The plaintiffs have not persuaded the court that they would suffer irreparable injury unless an injunction is granted, according to the ruling. The ruling continues, the court was "not convinced that there is a substantial probability" that the landowners will succeed on the merits of their claim.

"It confirms our position that the city complied with the applicable law regarding annexation, that annexation is in the best interests of the public, and that there is no irreparable harm to the landowners," Kolling said.

The court and attorneys will work out a scheduling order before taking the next step, Kuntz said.