Our view: An olive branch after Fufeng: Consider a de-annexation of some north-side properties in Grand Forks

The city should consider one thing: Reverse portions of the annexation that occurred last year along the city’s northern edge.

Herald pull quote, 2/11/2023
Herald graphic

If the city has an interest in dabbing some salve on the scab that formed during the Fufeng controversy, it should consider one thing: Reverse portions of the annexation that occurred last year along the city’s northern edge.

Or at least sincerely consider it.

A number of Grand Forks residents spoke during the public-input portion of the Feb. 6 City Council meeting, urging the council to double back on its decision to annex north-end properties.

Should the city take such a rare step? And should it do so considering the land in question probably will eventually be annexed into the city sometime in the future?

And can the city just do it? The Herald asked City Administrator Todd Feland, who said Tuesday he and other staff members “are working on the analysis in order to further brief the City Council next week at the Committee of the Whole.”


The annexation came last spring, when the council voted to absorb a portion of Falconer Township into city limits. It was done in conjunction with plans to bring in the Fufeng corn mill project, which would have required various infrastructure upgrades nearby. The annexation moved forward after a council vote on June 6.

Now, the Fufeng project appears to be dead. On Feb. 6, the council voted 5-0 to not move forward on certain required permitting after the Air Force deemed the project a threat to national security.

So if Fufeng is done, why continue with the annexation? Probably because work has been done in certain portions of the area – including a stormwater pond.

Importantly, some property owners there probably want the benefits that annexation brings, although it’s obvious a few do not. During Monday’s City Council meeting, council members heard from a few who demanded the city reverse the annexation; one said his taxes have gone up 450%.

Yes, the land is now part of the city. Yes, annexation probably will come up again along the city’s northern edge, where future industry certainly will someday locate. And yes, some property owners in the area probably are very content with the services that come with annexation and would rather be declared inside city limits.

Again, can the city move ahead with annexing some of that north-side area, while leaving out a few who are so vehemently against it? To us, if the city decided to annex in the first place, the city can probably decide to ultimately not do it. We aren’t experts in land annexations, so we await specific answers.

It’s a longshot, sure. But if it’s at all possible, this time – just this time – turn back the clock and start fresh with property owners who feel so wronged by the annexation and the Fufeng process in general.

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