Duluth Mayor axes proposed Rice Lake Township annexation

By KBJR News 1

December 12, 2013 Updated Dec 12, 2013 at 11:29 PM CDT

Rice Lake Township, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Talks are off the table for a proposed partial annexation between Duluth and Rice Lake Township, this after Duluth Mayor Don Ness says negotiations turned too negative too fast.

Some neighbors in Rice Lake Township said their town is fine the way it is, and there's no need to change it.

For Rice Lake Township resident Daryl Johnson there's a few reasons he lives outside Duluth's city limits.

"Living in the township, you know your community we have large tracks of land, we don't have a lot of neighbors," said Daryl Johnson.

When Duluth administrators proposed annexing a part of Rice Lake Township last month, the community was concerned.

"As a town we wanted to listen to the city of Duluth, but as I spoke to a lot of our residents, they were very concerned that you know the longer we listen, they just felt like they will overtake us," said Johnson.

Duluth Mayor Don Ness says his administration initiated the partial annexation of 10 square miles, to help ease the burden of township taxes and bridge the bordering communitieswhile helping to bump Duluth's population.

"It would be an opportunity to talk through some of common interests or opportunities for more efficient delivery of services," said Duluth Mayor Don Ness.

But after weeks of criticism, delay and the township deciding to hire an outside consulting firm, on Wednesday Ness pulled out of any future discussions.

"It wasn't going to be constructive and it wasn't going to be productive, so why waste everybody's time in continuing the conversation," said Ness.

"We wanted to stop big government from coming out to our community. We like our community the way it is," said Johnson.

And despite the decision to stop annexation discussion, Duluth city leaders say they are open to keeping the two neighboring communities connected.

"We certainly are always open to having discussions with any of our neighbors, any of the cities or townships surrounding the city of Duluth and looking for ways to work together or for mutual benefit," said Ness.

For now the two neighboring communities will remain separate, unless some common ground comes between in the future.

Jeremy Brickley
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