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Annexation contested at Dickinson meeting

Press Photo by Katherine Grandstrand Nathan Peck, right, assistant city engineer, looks on as City Planner Ed Courton speaks at a Dickinson City Commission meeting Monday at City Hall.

Not everyone wants to live in Dickinson.

Annexation and development were once again a hot topic of discussion at Monday's regular City Commission meeting at City Hall.

"I guess I'm hoping the city will take caution in annexing large pieces of land like this," Doug Decker said of a large tract of land that includes his home. "It seems like there's been a lot of land annexed to this point. I'm not against the City of Dickinson growing by any means."

While the annexation of the Southpark First Addition, a small parcel, was passed without protest, a larger chunk of land west of Dickinson did have a formal written protest.

The Pinecrest Addition, 400-plus acres near the Roers development, was protested by Decker as well as Todd and Laura Tooz, who each own 10 acres in the annexation.

"It just doesn't make any sense," Laura Tooz said. "And they're just going to come in, tear up the land around us and, 'You're just 10 acres so too bad for you.' I mean, these developers have done some good things, we're not saying that. But when is the city going to start looking out a little bit more for their local people who have been born and raised here who plan to stay here."

Their protest had no official effect on the annexation process because they own less than 2.5 percent of the annexation. Once a commission gives initial approval for annexation, as Dickinson did on Oct. 1, state law states that if 25 percent of the land proposed for annexation needs to protest to slow the process, City Attorney Matt Kolling and Commission President Dennis Johnson said. Between Tooz and Decker, they own less than 5 percent.

All of this annexation is occurring as Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson are finishing "Dickinson 2035: Roadmap to the Future," a comprehensive and transportation plan that the Commission, barring any major issues, is set to approve early next year.

"If you read the plan, a lot of the pressure on development is really on the front end of the next 20 years," Johnson said. "That's when the rapid expansion in the energy industry is taking place here. It's on the front end, it's not occurring evenly over the next 20 years or so, it's very much front-end loaded; especially on the infrastructure side."

Money for infrastructure and other projects will not only come from city coffers, but from energy impact funds and other monies from the state legislature, he said.

"We know that there's no way our city can deal with this by itself," Johnson said. "We need significant oil impact funding from the state legislature and one of the things that makes it difficult to plan is we won't know until probably well into the legislative session, and, typically, the way they work with major appropriations, until maybe even during the last few days of the session, just where the dollars are going to stand. ... We're going to compete for money with all the other western communities plus the water impacted areas."

The annexation is only part of the process, Commissioner Gene Jackson said.

"There are going to be probably numerous rezoning and platting activities that will be happening over these four or five years that there will be public hearings on," he said, urging those being annexed under protest to participate in that process.

The Commission unanimously approved the annexation of the parcel.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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