The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

June 21, 2013

City, township reach pact on future growth

Annexation of rural neighborhoods planned, with residents approval


"Area 1" properties can become part of Mankato if 66 percent of property owners in a subdivision petition to be annexed. "Area 2" properties are the rest of the township, but "Area 2" properties can be annexed if they are surrounded by the city and if both the township board and council approve the annexation.

Other "Area 2" parts of the township will remain under township control, although new rural subdivisions are prohibited.

The agreement also sets an eastern limit to Mankato's future growth. Land east of County Road 86, commonly referred to as the KTOE road, would be reserved for the future expansion of Eagle Lake.

The negotiated pact continues the long tradition of Mankato avoiding contentious disputes with surrounding townships over annexation. The first annexation agreement came in 1995 with Mankato Township, negotiated during Bill Basset's final years as city manager, but it didn't tackle the potentially controversial issue of how to handle existing rural neighborhoods.

Vogel and current City Manager Pat Hentges negotiated agreements in 1997 with Lime Township and in 2006 with South Bend. The Lime Township agreement allows rural subdivisions to be annexed with 50 percent of property owners petitioning. In South Bend, the only urbanized area adjacent to the city is Lehillier, and the city agreed to provide sewer services absent annexation.

"Unlike other areas of the state that have these annexation wars that rage, we have a good relationship with our townships," Vogel said.

Part of the reason that the 1995 agreement with Mankato Township didn't address rural subdivisions was that they were then far from Mankato's city limits. But the city underwent dramatic expansion during the housing boom that began about that time and continued until 2006.

About 1,500 to 1,600 acres of residential subdivisions were added during that boom, spreading the city limits to the south and east and north of Highway 14. With "Area 1" subdivisions reaching all the way to the Indian Lake County Park, the city will sprawl about seven miles from the southwest to the northeast once all the new area is annexed.

The next groups of rural subdivisions are south of County Road 90 and southeast of Mankato toward St. Clair, far enough away that Vogel said they are a distance from the city that they aren't likely to be candidates for annexation until far in the future — sometime after the new annexation agreement expires in 2035.

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