No support from Ham Lake for East Bethel resident requesting annexation

An East Bethel resident’s request to have property annexed into Ham Lake will likely be denied by the Ham Lake City Council.

Lowell Friday submitted a request to the city to have two parcels currently in East Bethel to be annexed into Ham Lake.

By a unanimous vote Dec. 17, councilmembers directed the city attorney to prepare finding of fact to deny the request. Those findings of fact are set to go before the council at its first meeting in January for final action.

According to state statute, if a property owner requests annexation and both municipalities reject the request, the matter is over and the request does not go any further. If one municipality joins the request, then an administrative law judge conducts hearings and makes a decision.

According to City Attorney Wilbur Dorn, Friday has said he will not present the petition to the city of East Bethel until after Ham Lake has acted on the annexation request.

One of the parcels Friday is requesting to have annexed is some 21 acres and fronts County Road 68 for its entire north-south distance. The property address is 18215 Greenbrook Drive N.E. As County Road 68 enters Ham Lake, it becomes Xylite Street N.E., even though it is the same public road.

The parcel contains two dwellings, according to Dorn, as well some dozen outbuildings in various states of repair.

The second property is some 4.5 acres and has frontage on 181st Lane N.E. This property is vacant and separated from the other Friday land by a property with a single-family home.

Friday also owns a third 29-plus acre parcel which is located in Ham Lake. The eastern East Bethel property, located on 181st Lane, abuts the Ham Lake property for some 330 feet. The western East Bethel property, located on Greenbrook Drive, touches the northwest corner of the Ham Lake parcel, but they have no common boundary.

Horses would be allowed on this Ham Lake property based on current ordinance.

According to Friday’s petition for annexation, the reason for the annexation is to allow him to continue to raise horses on all of his property.

Friday had an interim use permit from East Bethel to allow him to keep horses on his property. Renewal of that IUP was denied based on a history of mistreatment of the horses. A subsequent hearing by an independent hearing examiner also recommended that the IUP be denied.

“The real purpose of this annexation request appears to be an attempt to avoid the restrictions placed on this property by the city of East Bethel,” Dorn wrote in a memo to councilmembers.

The annexation is not in city’s best interests and annexation would not guarantee Friday the ability to keep horses on the two properties, according to Dorn.

Ham Lake could designate the parcels a different zoning, likely single-family residential as outlined in the city’s comprehensive plan.

“The conclusion is that the result of such an annexation would be both absurd and ludicrous, and the annexation statute was not intended to allow people to circumvent the ordinances of one city by changing the corporate limits of another,” Dorn wrote in his memo. “To allow an annexation under these circumstances would set a very dangerous precedent.”

Kelly Johnson is at [email protected]