The Northfield City Council is looking to extend its annexation agreement with Bridgewater Township for five years, but only if the township agrees not to file a petition for incorporation during that period.
The council passed a resolution Tuesday agreeing to send the renewal offer to the township. The move comes three months before the township board expects to decide to petition for incorporation and approximately six months before the annexation agreement between the two entities expires.
The annexation agreement between Bridgewater Township and the city of Northfield allows the city to annex township land at a certain speed, in a certain direction and with certain stipulations.
The agreement expires at the end of the year. It is widely believed that if the township incorporates, its annexation agreements would be no longer valid, because there cannot be such agreements between two cities.
Following the Northfield City Council meeting, Mayor Rhonda Pownell said in passing the resolution, the council signaled its interest in pursuing re-upping the annexation agreement and in finding solutions to the issues the township is facing without it petitioning for incorporation.
According to Pownell, the township knows Northfield is open to collaboration during the process and she understands why Bridgewater Township is considering incorporating.
Township officials have frequently cited controlling boundaries and zoning to establish local control, preserve quality ag land and broadening the tax base as main reasons why they are considering petitioning for incorporation.
Northfield City Manager Ben Martig said the city has not established its position on the impact incorporation would have on Northfield.
The city’s decision came six days after the Bridgewater Township Board of Supervisors unanimously opted to develop an incorporation petition.
Developing the petition does not mean the township will seek incorporation. Bridgewater officials plan to continue holding neighborhood and landowner meetings to gather feedback on the possibility.
Bridgewater Township also has an annexation agreement with Dundas, a city that sees the potential decision to incorporate as detrimental to its future growth. Dundas and Bridgewater have an annexation agreement that does not expire for another 15 years and sets out an area in Bridgewater surrounding Dundas that the city can annex when opportunities arise. If the township becomes a city, that agreement likely ends.
Mayor Pownell and Councilors Brad Ness and Jessica Peterson White are expected to continue addressing the issue for the council. The city has gathered stakeholders from Rice County, Dundas and Bridgewater Township to open communication lines between the entities.
Bridgewater supervisors Glen Castore, John Holden and Gary Ebling said Wednesday morning they had not seen the resolution and declined extensive comment.