Annexation for ATV firm tabled by city

A pie-shaped slice of land located nearly a mile from the Perham city limits won't be annexed--at least, not yet. A technicality halted the annexation proposal for at least a month. Evidently, at least two adjacent property owners were not formal...

A pie-shaped slice of land located nearly a mile from the Perham city limits won't be annexed--at least, not yet.

A technicality halted the annexation proposal for at least a month. Evidently, at least two adjacent property owners were not formally notified about the annexation hearing--which is required by law.

An odd, 38.8 acre configuration of land west of Perham, north of the airport, was requested for annexation by R.D. Offutt Company. The proposal called for a 150 foot-wide strip of land, running more than 3,000 feet through Perham township--leading to a 19.5 acre parcel.

The parcel would be the home of Redline Inc. Redline plans to manufacture recreational vehicles, described as "dune buggies." The company was represented at the meeting by Steve Campbell, owner of a Perham-based industrial finishing firm, who is one of several partners in the enterprise. The group plans to buy about half the total acreage from Offutt, after it is annexed.

"Clearly meandered" is how Robert Bigwood described the annexation proposal. Bigwood, a Fergus Falls-based attorney, said he was hired to protect Perham township's "territorial interests and the integrity of its boundaries."


With the long strip of land leading to Redline's proposed site, Bigwood said that it "conveniently bypassed" open farm fields to create an island of industrial land in Perham Township's interior. Bigwood hinted that the township may sue the city for "inappropriate annexation;" and that state Supreme Court precedent would favor the township's position.

Discussion continued for at least a half hour. About 20 Perham Township residents testified against the annexation, contending that they are on the verge of being surrounded by the city.

Redline's Steve Campbell, and city officials, were up front about the annexation petition: Redline wanted to build at the location because it was suitable for their needs. Also, Redline needed to be in the city to have access to the JOBS program, which offers qualifying businesses tax free incentives to build or relocate.

Redline's plan calls for a 14,000 square foot manufacturing and engineering complex--with at least 16 employees over the next two years. Also planned is a track for testing the ATV-dune buggy units. The noise from running the machines was a major concern for residents in the immediate area.

"We don't want to be a bad neighbor," said Steve Campbell. "This is not a racing facility, there won't be five or six of these vehicles running."

Noise level tests were professionally conducted Monday, and the results concluded that the noise level at the test track would not exceed Minnesota daytime noise standards.

Other points made by Campbell:

----The test track would operate only a few hours a day, and not necessarily every day.


----Redline would plant trees and vegetation to screen the facility.

----The terrain west of Perham is ideal for the test track, and the sandy soil is also preferable for testing the "dune buggies."

----Redline is presently headquartered in Fargo, but the soil conditions are heavier there, and less desirable.

-----Several of the parts manufacturers, including Campbell's Industrial Finishing company, are in the Perham area. This reduces shipping costs, making Redline more competitive.

----An irrigation system would be installed at the test track to wet the surface and minimize dust.

----In addition to the ATVs, Redline has other products on the drawing board. Perham would benefit from job creation and economic development. "We want to bring these jobs into the area, but if we have to go to a different town, we'll do what we have to do," said Campbell.

Some Perham Township residents questioned why Redline wasn't considering an existing industrial lot in the city's industrial park. But present parcels were not adequate for Redline's needs, said Campbell.

Township residents remained skeptical, and fear that the annexation will lead to more annexation. Many residents were from Prairie's Edge, a residential development in the township--that borders the city of Perham.


Mayor Vince Pankonin reminded the homeowners that by building on the edge of a growing city, they need to consider the prospect of being annexed.

"I have land in Corliss Township, eight miles away. If I wanted to build a go-cart track, and be within the city limits, could I be annexed," said Perham Township resident Wayne Enger. "Where is the limit on how far you go out with annexation? Who far to we take it to bring business and jobs into the area?"

Economic development is important, acknowledged several of the township residents and Enger, "but how far do we go...and at what cost?"

A resident with acreage near the proposed Redline facility, who has a number of horses, said that the noise tests conducted at the site "were a constant humming and buzzing, like a chain saw."

"It's driving my horses nuts, and its driving us nuts," she said.

But councilmembers Kevin Keil and Jerome Boedigheimer, both who listened at the site during the noise tests, said they didn't believe the noise was a factor. And, the official tests appear to bear that out.

"I've heard louder four-wheelers," said Keil, but he did acknowledge that there was a fair amount of dust generated at the test track.

Safety issues were raised, with the truck traffic that the business will generate, said opponents. Declining property values were another concern.


"We do not want to be a part of the city of Perham," said Prairie's Edge resident Wanda Kupferschmidt, reflecting a common fear of future annexation. "Business and development is fine, but leave us alone...we have to protect ourselves."

The annexation decision was tabled for at least a month, because city staff concluded that at least two affected property owners did not receive a written notification.

This means that there has to be another hearing next month, with a decision some time after the hearing.

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