Debate continues on Lansing annexation

By Karen Colbenson

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

When Dave Larson, a resident of Lansing Township, moved into his house 59 years ago, there were nine houses and a few river cabins nearby. Now there are 25 houses, and all the river cabins have been taken down.

"Times are changing," said Larson, one of about 60 township residents who attended a public hearing Monday night at Mapleview City Hall concerning the city of Austin’s proposed annexation agreement for nearly 700 acres. The township board will vote Wednesday on whether to accept the city’s agreement.

Under the five-year plan, the city would annex 698 acres, with roughly 450 residents, along both sides of the Cedar River north to the Ramsey Dam area. More than 200 parcels are in the ultimate service area.


Talks of annexation began after some township residents asked about getting sanitary sewer services. Some properties have septic systems that don’t meet state code, but the lots are too small to install tanks that follow the law.

In April, the township board unanimously voted to stop annexation talks with the city, saying it was in the best interests of the township, which would lose about 23 percent of its tax base if the annexation occurred. But in July, Austin City Council members voted in favor of sending an orderly annexation agreement to the Lansing Township Board for consideration.

Opinions about an annexation are divided among residents.

Many at Monday night’s meeting residents told the board they were happy with the septic system they have and do not want to change anything. Others spoke in favor of joining the city’s sewer system, citing health and financial reasons.

Other options also have been discussed at previous meetings. According to Bev Nordby, chairwoman of the township board, the township’s sewage treatment ponds in the village of Lansing are operating at less than 50 percent capacity, and more than 30 homes could be connected to it.

Larson doesn’t see that as a solution.

"We are talking about more than 30 homes," said Larson. "I honest to God feel bad for the people who think they have good systems and don’t want to spend the money, but I think the city (of Austin) seems to have a proposal that can help."

Cheryl Dunlap pointed out that to use the existing treatment ponds or to build more would mean more taxes and upkeep responsibilities to Lansing residents.


"You have to look at the long range too," said Dunlap. "The city already has a professional waste treatment plant."

Resident Bonnie Ryther said she is concerned that the annexation is the first step in losing the township.

Board member Steve Persinger said if the board turns down the plan, residents who want annexation can pursue other options, such as petitioning for annexation or having the city do an annexation by ordinance for properties touching Austin.

If approved, however, the city would reimburse the township for lost property taxes as the parcels are annexed. When a parcel is annexed, the township would get 100 percent the first year, gradually declining to 10 percent in the sixth year.

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