Ken Pawluk, Published October 26 2012
Letter: De-annexation proposal bad idea for property owners and countiesThe final ballot initiative on all Cass County ballots transfers Pleasant Township from Cass County to Richland County. Pleasant Township sits on the southeast corner of Cass County along the Red River where Cass and Richland counties meet. Pleasant Township boundaries are from Highway 46 on the south to Cass 16 (Davenport Road) on the north and from the Red River on the east to one mile west of Cass 17. This part of Cass County has seen challenging flood issues.
The de-annexation measure, as written, includes 80 acres that are part of the city of Fargo and 700 acres that are part of the city of Horace. It contains 21.5 miles of paved county roads and six bridges. Cass has initiated $4.8 million in flood buyouts in this township. The measure contains no provision for Richland to repay Cass County’s investment of more than $15 million in Pleasant Township.
For Pleasant Township property owners, the move will be from a lower tax levy county in Cass to a higher tax levy county in Richland. The Pleasant owners will have to get their services, including emergency snow removal, flood assistance, and law enforcement response from a city 45 miles away. The changeover, if approved, will be Jan. 1, so these impacts will be immediate.
If the measure is approved, Richland County will have to repay to Cass the Pleasant pro-rata share of the bonds issued to finance the new courthouse addition and Richland will assume responsibility to maintain the public infrastructure. What is not clear in the measure is how both counties will handle operational issues, such as whether Richland will now have to run polling sites in Fargo and Horace. How will a title opinion or an abstract on any land parcel be obtained when the same piece of land has been part of both counties? Who will maintain the two dozen Cass flood buyout properties in Pleasant?
Many in Pleasant are opposed to the Red River Diversion and thus have initiated the de-annexation. Now, as the diversion plan has evolved, many of the diversion impacts have been reduced.
The diversion plan protects one in four North Dakotans and will take approximately 200,000 people out of the flood plain. The Pleasant Township communities of Bakke Addition, Oxbow, and Hickson now will have 500-year flood protection, greater than any other Red River community.
These are my personal views and have not been endorsed or approved by the Cass County Commission. I urge the rejection of the Pleasant Township de-annexation with a “no” vote.
Pawluk is a Cass County commissioner.