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Stillwater Township took no position on the detachment, according to the ruling. And in any case, Nass said, it would be extremely costly to connect the city’s sewer across Hwy 36. In Oak Park Heights, however, that connection would be easily made, he added.
The case is unusual in that, more typically, a city will annex land in an adjoining township as part of its growth plans.
In this instance, however, the landowners involved got together and asked that their property be detached from Lake Elmo to become part of Stillwater Township. It is developed to the east and north, and serves as a buffer to other Lake Elmo landowners, which the city must also consider, Pearson said.
But the land is ideally suited for commercial/industrial development rather than the rural residential plan envisioned by the city, Nass said. That’s because it’s crossed by a power line, is close to Hwy. 36 and the soil is gravelly. Nass has had this land on the market for three years, but buyers have shied away because of its agricultural zoning.
“We’re not developers, we’re just landowners,” he said. “We’ve been there 35 years. It’s been our home.”
Nass is optimistic that, after the delay, the new jurisdiction will make the land more attractive.
“The whole thing that’s going to help us is the bridge, all the hype about the bridge,” he said, referring to waves of new traffic on Hwy. 36 expected after the new St. Croix Crossing, now under construction, opens in late 2016. “It’s finally moving.”
Jim Anderson • 651-925-5039