An Important Message from our Friends at Open Hands Farm

We wanted to pass along this message we received from Erin and Ben at Open Hands Farm:

“We are writing to you today to ask for your assistance in saving farmland, specifically in Waterford, but also in other surrounding townships.

Some of you may have read in the Northfield News that Waterford Township is facing pressure to have some land annexed into Northfield. The details to this story are many and the news has often omitted some crucial details. We will try to share with you the points that we feel are most critical.

Northfield just annexed 530 acres in Greenvale Township, is currently discussing annexation of 400 acres in Bridgewater, and now they are looking at land in Waterford. Since 1981, Waterford has had an orderly annexation agreement with Northfield that states that any property owner that wants to be annexed into Northfield, has to get permission from the Waterford Town Board and Northfield City Council. This agreement was signed by the Mayor of Northfield, the Governor of Minnesota, the House, and the Senate. It is a State Statute and we believe that, as a state statute and an agreement between two parties, it should be respected and followed. However, Northfield does not believe this, so on Monday March 2nd, they began the process of making an amendment to their zoning ordinance that states that a property can be annexed with the sole approval of the Northfield City Council, WITHOUT ASKING the Waterford Town Board. The developer merely has to notify the township board of their plans.

If this occurs, it could eventually open up large tracts of land to development in Waterford and other Townships. Waterford currently has very strict and, we think, progressive zoning to keep our township rural and agricultural. The agricultural aspects of the surrounding townships are crucial to Northfield’s continued success. In these turbulent times, agricultural land is crucial to Northfield’s food security. We need to keep EVERY piece of it available and unpaved. If annexation and development become the law of the land, a continuous sprawl from St Paul to Northfield will likely result. Is that something you want?

Healthy Townships help create a healthy Northfield. We mutually benefit each other by the different resources that we have.

Another important piece to this is that if annexations occur, Northfield and Township residents would see considerable tax increases. Property annexed would see a 3 to 7 times increase in taxes. Waterford would need to raise taxes to compensate for lost tax base, and Northfield would pay more taxes for expanded coverage of city services.

Many Waterford residents and business owners are concerned they would not be able to afford the tax increases and would have to move or go out of business.

The township has received a letter from the majority of the business owners in Waterford, and they are strongly opposed to any annexation of Waterford. And we know of no Waterford resident who is interested in annexation.

What can you do? How can we help stop Northfield’s sprawl?

If you are concerned about this issue, please attend the city council meeting this coming Monday, March 16 at 7PM. The council has the 2nd reading of this ordinance change in their draft agenda. And if it is discussed and/or voted upon, it will be crucial that they hear from Waterford and Northfield residents.”

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