Robertsons win annex approval
Winnebago councilmembers took the first step Tuesday night in giving the go-ahead to annex 109 acres of land located in Verona Township.
Wednesday night, the township board sealed the deal.
At the request of Scott and Mae Robertson, the City Council approved a joint resolution calling for the “orderly annexation” of their property.
The township board unanimously gave their approval.
Supervisor Greg Young says their meeting was “very brief,” taking just a few minutes.
“There were no issues with it. He (Scott) is leaving the township for all the right reasons,” says Young. “We didn’t want to stand in his way.”
Robertson says he’s relieved and glad it’s over.
“Since this all started I really have felt like an outsider. Like I’m from a different planet,” says Robertson.
A candidate for the City Council, Robertson has lived in an apartment in the city on Main Street since Oct. 4 to meet residency requirements.
The Robertsons already have 10 acres in the city limits they pay taxes on. Their house, however, is located in the township.During the whole ordeal, Robertson says some people have questioned his motives.
“I’m about as Winnebago as you can get. The city is growing and I want to move it in the right direction,” he says. “I hope there’s no hard feelings with anybody.”
The next move will be to send paperwork to the Office of Municipal Boundary Adjustments for state approval. That is expected to take several weeks.
Tuesday night, Robertson’s attorney, Joseph Bromeland of Blue Earth, attended the council meeting to answer any questions city officials might have.
Bromeland says passage of the joint resolution is the quickest way to annex the property. If that had failed, he says the city could have taken matters into their own hands with a 30-day notice for a hearing.
“We are trying to do this in the most amicable way as possible,” Bromeland told the council. “The city could annex the property even if the township doesn’t want it.”
Before a vote was taken, Councilman Rick Johnson asked the matter be tabled so more public input could be gathered.
Johnson is vying for one of two four-year term seats Robertson also is seeking.
“Our job has to do with public perception. I’m not at all sure what the public is thinking. We ought to have to answer to them,” says Johnson.
Robertson says annexing his property has nothing to do with him being a candidate.
“I don’t care about the election. I am still going to go on with this, even if I lose,” Robertson says.
Verona Township officials Neal Mensing and Greg Young were asked how they felt about the annexation.
Mensing says the loss of nearly $300 a year in property tax revenue is a concern and Young says the impact, if any, on township roads needed to be addressed.
“Even if we both don’t approve it, they are going to go on with this,” says Mensing, chairman of the township board.
Bromeland talked about liability issues pertaining to roads and sewer hookup.
He says a road adjacent to the Robertsons’ property already is the city’s responsibility and the township’s portion starts after the property line. Thus, nothing would change.
Bromeland says the Robertsons live more than 500 feet from the nearest sewer line, so they would not be required to hook into the system.
Chris Ziegler, who also is running against Robertson, says the council must take into account any potential long-term liabilities involving water, sanitary or the environment. The decision they make, he says, could set a precedent.
“We’re taking about a huge timeframe here. We’re not just talking about today, tomorrow or 10 years, it’s forever,” says Ziegler.
Robertson says JM Manufactur-ing annexed some property and then paid the township a lump sum for tax revenue lost.
To compensate the township for loss in taxes, a reimbursement schedule proposed would give the township 90 percent of the city’s share of tax revenue in the first year; 70 percent the second year; 50 percent in the third year; 30 percent the fourth year; and 10 percent in the fifth year. Based on the Robertsons’ latest tax statement the calculations would be based on the $300 the township receives.