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Rushford Village opts for more time on annexation request

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Feb 14th, 2014
Posted in Rushford Village Government

Discussion of a petition for detachment from the city of Peterson and annexation to the city of Rushford Village continued at the February 11 Village council meeting. January 8, Peterson struck down the request for detachment citing a disservice to the community. The issue had been brought before the Village council by the petitioners, Alan Lipowitz and Jan Smaby, December 3 and was again discussed by the council January 21, before being tabled.

According to Mayor Dale Schwanke, a slight modification has been made to the petition, which calls for a time limit on a decision by the Village. “I’ve had a number of discussions with Mayor Wood and discussions with Al and Jan. If we work together well, we should be able to talk this out with discussion between our councils. My thought is, do what we can do. I’ve heard it will ruin our relationship, but something is wrong with that picture if we can’t sit down and talk about it, or are unable or unwilling to sit down and talk about it.”

The time limit will move the process along. “It can’t stay out there forever. I don’t know at this time, but I’d hate to throw the towel over this issue,” added Schwanke. “If we can’t accomplish anything then so be it; if we can, wonderful.”

“I stewed and stewed on the information sent, struggled with it for a long time,” added Councilor Gordon Johnson. “People have rights. People have the opportunity to go to the court system. There’s bits of information here and bits of information there. We’re not looking to take anything from Peterson, but we’re the ones who have to make a decision. In a way, I feel like we’re a scapegoat.

I’d like it to become an issue with the residents and the city of Peterson.”

“This was thrust upon this council. We didn’t ask for this,” added Schwanke. “It’s not an issue of he said, she said. That’s immaterial. This is a legal issue. Let’s work the issue through, talk to Peterson, take some time, and move the issue forward a step. One way or another, you have to say, ‘Yes,’ or ‘No.’ If they don’t want to talk to us, then the monkey is on their back.”

It has been argued by the City of Peterson that in this case, both cities must vote ‘yes’ for it to proceed, showing a mutual benefit to both. However, Rushford Village legal counsel, Tom Manion, has suggested that the level of advocacy can vary. If the city supports it, it can vigorously advocate or not. Should the Village vote to yes to the petition, the issue will go to mediation.

“I’d sooner see a resolve,” added Johnson. “The point is, we need to explore to be sure everyone has been given an opportunity. We’re not here to be the good guy or the bad guy.”

“We need to say, ‘Here’s the timeframe. Where do we go from here?’ We need to at least have an opportunity to work together rather than this we will never work together again crap. That’s kid stuff,” added Schwanke.

Johnson has voluntarily removed himself from discussion during the time period, citing an already expressed opinion. Mayor Schwanke and Councilor Hamilton Peterson will represent the Village in discussions with Peterson. A letter will be drafted to the City of Peterson stating the approved resolution of an April 1 time frame on the issue.

“Ideally, at some point, we would like to have all the parties together,” concluded Shwanke. “We need to do our due diligence and help resolve the matter. As honest individuals, we can come together to say, ‘Hey, can’t we find some common ground here?’ I’d rather do that than just let it go.”

The next regularly scheduled council meeting has been changed from Tuesday, February 18 to Tuesday, February 25 to accommodate the schedule of consultant Mike Bubany and Bolton & Menk, Inc. engineer Brian Malm to attend the meeting. Please note the date change. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at city hall.

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