Judge Rules Against Proctor in Annexation Attempt

An administrative law judge ruled Thursday that the City of Proctor will not be able to annex neighboring Midway Township.

Judge James E. LaFave found that Proctor's annexation attempt does not meet criteria defined in state law because Midway Township is not urban or suburban in character and that Proctor had not shown that Midway needs municipal services or that the annexation was in the best interests of Midway residents.  Judge LaFave noted that wetlands and steep terrain limit development in much of the township and that commercial real estate brokers say there is not much demand for lots along the portion of I-35 that runs through Midway Township.

St. Louis County Deputy Auditor Brandon Larson had testified at a hearing last September that annexation would mean a 28.7 percent levy decrease for Proctor and a 63.4 percent levy increase for Midway.

Midway Township leaders opposed Proctor's annexation attempt.  Jim Aird, the vice chair of the Midway Township Board, said Proctor failed to prove the annexation would benefit the township and about 600 people signed a petition in opposition to the annexation.

Midway Township borders on Duluth, Proctor, Hermantown, and Thomson Township and has about 1,400 residents.  The addition of Midway Township would have given Proctor more than 5,000 residents and made it eligible for additional state aid.

For the past year, Midway Township has been working with the City of Duluth on a possible voluntary annexation.  Daniel Fanning, chief communication and policy officer for the City of Duluth, said the city has a "very good working relationship" with township leaders and that discussions continue.

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