Credit River Township officials have been working through the incorporation process, which would officially change Credit River from a township to a city.
On Nov. 16, a public hearing on the incorporation was held by the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings before Judge Jessica A. Palmer-Denig.
During the hearing, Palmer-Denig heard testimonies from Credit River Township Chair Chris Kostik, the township planner and engineer.
The three discussed the 13 factors that make Credit River eligible for incorporation, Kostik said.
According to Minnesota State Statute 414.02, which details the proceedings for incorporation of a municipality, information on the following factors are considered by the judge:
- Past, present and projected population;
- The quantity of land within the area;
- Pattern of physical development and intended land use;
- Present transportation network and potential issues;
- Land use controls and planning;
- Governmental services being provided in the area;
- Existing or potential environmental problems;
- Fiscal impact on the area;
- Relationship and effect of incorporation on area school districts;
- If existing government can adequately provide services;
- Analysis of whether necessary governmental services can best be provided through the proposed action or another type of boundary adjustment;
- Degree of contiguity between the area and adjacent government;
- Applicability of the state building code.
“I think we've proved all these 13 factors that needed to be proved to become a city. I don't think that there was any question or any other comment that would say otherwise,” Kostik said. “The judge was unable to make any kind of statement on what she thought at the time, but I really believe that we absolutely were able to prove our factors.”
Following the hearing, a public comment period was held and residents were able to comment on the incorporation.
By Dec. 11, the township’s legal team must file a legal brief with the Office of Administrative Hearings. Within 60 days, the judge will make their final determination. If in favor of the incorporation, the judge will give the township the direction to hold municipal elections for positions like city councilmember and mayor.
The township then has to give residents a 74-day notice before elections are held.
If everything goes as planned, “we're still looking into spring before it's all final [and] said and done,” Kostik said.
The process of incorporation has been long and time consuming with the first incorporation conversations taking place in 2008, but Kostik believes the township is now on the right path toward becoming the City of Credit River.
“Every time you get one step done there's another hurry-up-and-wait period after that,” Kostik said. “Credit River is excited to get to the finish line on this one.”
The incorporation of a municipality only happens roughly once every 10 years, Kostik saidd. Some of the most recent incorporations in the state include the incorporation of the City of Nowthen, which was formally Burns Township in Anoka County; the incorporation of Rice Lake near Duluth; and the incorporation of St. Augusta in Stearns County.
Credit River was first established in 1858. Presently, the population of the township is nearing 6,000.
Aside from incorporation, the township’s growing population also led the board to seek out a dedicated law enforcement officer for Credit River, Kostik said in an email.
The township recently entered into an agreement with the Scott County Sheriff’s Office for a full time law enforcement officer, which is scheduled to begin in January. The deputy that will be assigned to Credit River will be announced at the Dec. 7 meeting of the township board.
“This will offer quicker response time and more visibility in Credit River,” Kostik said. “While this deputy will be focused on Credit River, in an emergency situation in a surrounding community assistance would be provided. Credit River and the SCSO have been negotiating this agreement for about a year and a half.”