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Burnsville Burns. Bloomington Cool - Annexation Draws Envy, Sympathy(excerpt) By GWENYTH JONES
Minneapolis Star Staff Writer City Manager Ray Olsen says Bloomington officials have been surprised at the “amount and bitterness” of the objections in Burnsville when Bloomington suddenly annexed the 100-million-dollar Northern States Power Black Dog plant....He flatly denied Blooming­ ton “made a deal” with NSP. He said the only promise the city made to the company was not to use the tax reve­nue from the plant to add to its budget, but to collect the same total revenue from a lowered tax rate.
Minneapolis Star Staff Writer
Public sympathy for Burnsville and private envy of Bloomington have been ex­pressed by officials in other suburbs in the wake of Bloomington’s annexation moves last week.
But apparently they see little connection between this and their own long-term fears of possible annexation by Minneapolis.
( Bergerud DeGhetto Illies ) Thurs., Aug. 31, 1961
Burnsvillians Burn over Black Dog MoveResidents in Burnsville township today were burning over Bloomington’s annexation of their tax-rich Black Dog power plant.
Charges of “land grab” and “pressure politics” rose from township residents as they prepared to fight the annex­ation, which came in a surprise announcement Wednesday.
Bloomington added on the 159-acre plant at the request of Northern States Power Co., then launched an immediate campaign to merge the remainder of Burnsville with Bloom­ington.
Within hours after the an­nouncement signs proclaming, “Never will we join Bloomington” appeared at the service station, tap room and grocery store at Lynrose corners in Burnsville.
The corner, traditionally a bellweather of public senti­ment, is owned by Francis Popehn, who said he gave up his tavern in Bloomington in 1957 to escape high taxes.
“Most of the people that have been in here today are just plain mad about the annexation,” Popehn said. “This thing came as a huge shock. There seems to be nothing sound behind it.” THURSDAY, AUGUST 24, 1961
( Popehn Gallagher Wenthold Valley View Motel Johnson )
Burnsville's Annexation woes due to twice doomed law 1961St. Paul Pioneer Press August 27, 1961 reports: Bloomington's annexation of the Northern States Power Company Black Dog plant in Burnsville, Dakota County, a move violently opposed by Burnsville, was accomplished under an old state law which almost was killed in the 1959 and 1961 legislatures...
Burnsville Township Board 1961The Burnsville Township board of commissioners met in August 1961 to map a strategy to deal with Bloomington's attempt to annex 160 acres from Burnsville Township, acquiring a large chunk of the river valley and Northern States Power's Black Dog Power Plant in the process. The plant was providing 75 percent of the township's tax base. The civic groups were formed to stop Bloomington's actions.
Black Dog Power Plant 1963This photo comes from an informational brochure created in 1963.
The Burnsville Grab and Dakota County 1961Taxpayers and other residents of Burnsville township who learned last week that the neighboring community of Bloomington had grabbed their biggest source of tax money, the Black Dog plant of the Northern States Power Company, expressed sympathy towards the occasional visitors to the state fair who had had their pockets picked.

While they slept, figuratively speaking, the Bloomington council and comp"any officials quietly — very quietly — went about the business of transferring the 150 odd acres on which the plant is located in Dakota county into the jurisdiction of the Bloomington municipality. So secretly had .he negotiations been carried on that not a word pf it had leaked out until the annexation was an accomplished fact.

The lights of publicity had been turned off in one of the best engineered and executed debacles Minnesota has witnessed since St. Paul wrested the title of state capital from St. Peter somewhere around 100 years ago. The switch was made in accordance with laws passed in recent sessions of the legislature whereby up to 200 acres of land adjacent to a municipality may be annexed without a public hearing or review by the state municipal question where owners of the property favor such annexation.

In this case the company owned all the land and, according to reports, not only favored the idea but asked for annexation to Bloomington.

This was in spite of the fact that the change would increase the taxes the company would pay very substantially for the time being, the explanation from the company's viewpoint be- ing that in the long run its tax costs would be reduced.
The loss of their major source of tax revenue so far as the township was concerned was a stunning job to other Burnsville taxpayers — an electric shock of high voltage, so to speak. But this was not all that stirred their ire until it was hotter than the recent August weather.

The news was also broken to them that Bloomington coveted all of Burnsville township and was taking steps to absorb the area in toto. That really got the dander of the Burnsville folks riled up and they let it be known far and wide that they opposed any such grab. Threats of boycotting Bloomington business places were widespread and other retaliatory measures were discussed wherever a few of the affected residents assembled. A public mass meeting Wednesday night tended to solidify popular backing for legal efforts to thwart the annexation of the township as well as to have the NSP plan area switch set aside.

All signs point to a hot court battle over these moves which have given added impetus to the drive to have the township incorporated into a village. Had this been done before Bloomington put over its Black Dog deal, it could not have absorbed the several million dollar property without getting an okay from citizens of the township.

While this legal battle is being waged an the opposing groups are stating their cases t the judge, it seems timely for other township in Dakota and Washington counties which have been toying with the idea of incorporating to speed up their studies and planning along this line. The spirit of Bloomington might be contagious and prompt some other greedy municpality to pluck off some rich pieces of real estate which presently are located within th borders of these townships. Locking the bar after the horse — or the horsepower — has been stolen might be too late.
Quote from Wally Day on Annexation 1962August 10, 1962:

Burnsville - Wallace Day, Burnsville town board chairman, declared that "there would be nothing less than civil war" if Burnsville were annexed to Bloomington. Day said town residents are still worried about the possibility because the Minnesota Municipal Commission has not made a decision on Bloomington's annexation petition." - Full story page 13A.
Sneak Attack on Burnsville . . Will It Stick?Dakota County Tribune August 1961

Bloomington's sneak attack on Burnsville—the snatching of the tax-rich Black Dog power plant—hit like a bombshell and is deplored by all Americans who believe in fair play.
News media have told of the dastardly trick in detail and wherever you go you hear this typical comment—even across the river—"It's unbelievable; I never heard of such trickery!"
It disturbs us to think such a thing could be done in America,,where the rights of others is respected. _Bloomington officials kept the whole affair secret for a year. There was no advance public notice. Burnsville was denied that great American right — the RIGHT to KNOW!
Dark-lantern tactics belong to dictator countries, not in free America. ,
One Farmington man, infuriated at the underhanded snatch, said he would donate $50 to aid Burnsville's cause. We believe others would help and carry the case to the Supreme Court, if necessary. How about some benefit entertainment to help defray expenses?
Typical of strong feeling expressed on this sizzling subject is this good letter to the Tribune editor signed by Burnsville people who formerly lived in Bloomington:
Burnsville, Rt. 2, Savage, Minnesota August 24, 1961
Dakota County Tribune Farmington, Minnesota Sir:
Our friendly neighbor to the north, having taken unto its almost bankrupt self some 7/8 of our township revenues and a great part of our industrial bottom land now adds insult to injury by inviting the rest of our town of Burnsville to unite with its pitiful self. ,
We regret that Bloomington is in such a mess it cannot pay its bills. Many of us watched for years as it got itself in- to this mess. We saw the process at close range, because we were residents of that fair city. When the situation became ominous, and the leadership obviously confused and inadequate, we put our homes up for sale, unloaded them usually for far less than we had paid, and WE GOT OUT.
We like the people of East Berlin, voted with our feet.
The hand of Bloomington has now reached out across the river to us, not in friendship but to pick our pockets.
Hail, All-American City!
(Signed): Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Smyk, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence
E. Bixby, Mr. and Mrs. Leonard R. Bixby, Mrs. Cleon W. Main, Mrs. Clyde N. Ryberg, Mrs. Darrell Johnson, Mrs. Fran- cis Jeffrey. Mrs. Wm. Pletcher.
Deja vu all over again, 2000The April 12, 2000 issue of the St. Paul Pioneer Press publishes a series of articles about the history of Dakota County. In this one, they recall how Burnsville fended off Bloomington's attempt to annex the township and Black Dog power plant. The two cities, at the time of the article, are at odds about a proposed amphitheatre.
Municipal Grand LarcenyAugust 24, 1961 Minnesota Valley Review editorial

The bombshell that burst this week in Burnsville has left us a little stunned, to say the least. In what appears to have been a long prepared plan, the All American City of Bloomington has pulled off the biggest land swindle since...
Annexation Battle 1961October 13, 1961 Minneapolis Tribune. The Minnesota municipal commission finished four days of hearings on two petitions, one by Bloomington, to annex the township and one by Burnsville residents to incorporate. The battle being over the tax value provided by the Black Dog Power Plant.
Location of Black Dog Power Plant1960 aerial shows location of Black Dog Power Plant.
Incorpration fight looms in Burnsville 1964Minneapolis Star June 9, 1964 reports: A lively fight is shaping up south of the Minnesota River over the proposed incorporation of Burnsville to be decided June 16 in an election ordered by the Minesota Municipal Commission (MMC).

All of Burnsville township, three sections of Eagan Township and a corner of Lebanon township are included in the area covered by the incorporation election order...
Township starts legal action 1961August 31, 1961 Minnesota Valley Review

The outline for legal action to regain the Black Dog plant property and to prevent the annexation of the whole township was given last night at the citizen's meeting held at the Burnsville school...
Thuet tells of link to Annexation 1961St. Paul Dispatch - August 30, 1961: Senator Paul Thuet (South St Paul) said today that he has become an innocent victim of circumstances in the Bloomington - Burnsville township annexation squabble. He called the annexation of the Black Dog Power Plant by Bloomington ridiculous and said that if there is a special session of the legislature he will introduce a bill to prevent such a move in the future....
State Senator John Metcalf and Burnsville Town Clerk Pat Connelly 1960John Metcalf was Superintendent of the School District at the time of the attempted annexation. Pat Connelly, life long resident was Town Clerk.
Minnesota Valley Review August 31, 1961This issue of the MInnesota Valley Review leads with Township starts legal action...Business Groups take stands on annexation, Suit threatended, citizens counted.
MN Valley Review on Annexation, ReactionThe outline for legal action to regain the Black Dog plant property and to prevent the annexation of the whole township was given last night (Wednesday) at the citizen's meeting held at the Burnsville school.
In a statement to the Review yesterday, attorney Dave Grannis said the township would file its suit by the end of the week. The action will attack the validity of the Bloomington
city council annexation ordinance on the grounds it is both unreasonable and unconstitutional, Grannis said. Further arguments, involving the petition for annexation, will be presented.
Grannis also said the petition of Burnsville township to incorporate into a village had been filed Tuesday afternoon with the state municipal commission. Commission members Joe Robbie and Robert Edman were out of town, so action on the petition will be delayed. The commission is expected to set a public hearing in the township within the next six to eight weeks. (more) August 31, 1961
Never will we join Bloomington!Never will we join Bloomington
Burnsville will fight, throngs prtest grabbing of Black Dog
Oh where, O where has our Black Dog gone?

Three photos combined by the City of Burnsville for its anniversary of incorporation.
NSP says Merger is a step in the right direction 1961In a letter to the editor published August 24, 1961 - NSP states: "We believe the merger of the city of Bloomington with Burnsville township into one consolidated city is a step in the right direction in the future development of this large suburban area," said J. Rosoce Furber, vice president and manager of Minneapolis division of Northern States Power Company (NSP).

"We realize that our Black Dog plant will be included in the proposed consolidated community but his merger will lend stability to the entire area and provide an inducement of new industry not made available by the separate communities...

NSP is vitally interested in the growth and development of the area it serves and we want to do everything possible to attract new industry. In the final analysis, this consolidation should benefit all concerned because, in our opinion, it will provide the means for the proper development of the Minnesota River Valley under one local government and reduce the cost of government by eliminating many duplications.

Bloomington has convinced us that it has a strong economic base upon which to build. We like the city's proposal to establish citizens' task forces in both communities to study this merger and we do not plan to oppose this proposed consolidation."
New NSP plant to be constructed at old Indian site in Dakota County 1951The Hastings Gazette, January 12, 1951 announces plan for Northern States Power Company to erect a generating plant on Black Dog Lake....
Annexation is null and void 1963Dakota County Tribune March 14, 1963 reports: The annexation by Bloomington of the Black Dog Power Plant in Burnsville township was declared null and void in Dakota County District Court....
Former townhall now Ames ConstructionThe Burnsville townhall, as viewed in photos from the 1961 Annexation Battle, is now owned by Ames Construction. The building has been expanded to meet their needs. Photo 2017.
Lou Gellerman, criticizes NSP and Bloomington 1961South St. Paul Reporter - September 1,1961 guest columnist Lou Gellerman presents his opinion about Bloomington's efforts to annex Burnsville to obtain Northern States Power. "All the money Northern States Power" has spent on publicity and promotion over the past years went up in a puff of smoke from the towering smokestacks of its Black Dog plant in Burnsville.... I join my voice with those of Burnsville in protesting this act of real estate piracy..."
Orchard Gardens Incorporation PetitionMr. Pat J. Connelly Town Clerk, Burnsville Township Savage, Minnesota
Dear Mr. Connelly:
November 22, 1961
The attached Notice of Hearing and petition for incor­poration of Orchard Gardens are self-explanatory.
If there are any questions or problems, please tele­phone me at Ca. 2-3013, extension 2409.

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a public hearing will be held at 10:00 A.M. on December 11, 1961, in the Lakeville Town Hall, before the Minnesota Municipal Commission, on the petition of certain freeholders for the incorporation of the Village of Orchard Gardens in an area partly in Burnsville township, and partly in Lakeville township, Dakota County, Minnesota pursuant to the provisions of M.S.A. 1959, Section 414*02 et seq as amen­ded by Laws 1961, Chapter 645*
The land which is subject to the foregoing petition is more particularly described as follows:

Orchard Lake Oct 30 PetitionOctober 30, 1961
In the matter of the petition of certain freeholders for incorporation of the Village of Orchard Gardens

We the undersigned freeholders and residents of the area hereinafter described do hereby petitioned the Minnesota municipal commission to designate a time and place for a hearing on this petition to incorporate a village to be known as Orchard Gardens, and that in this petition be approved for submission to the voters that the municipal commission also submit to the voters the proposal for the adoption of optional playing a for the government of the Village, and for this purpose respectfully state as follows:
1. That the area to be incorporated is not included within the limits of any incorporated municipality.
2. That your petitioners are at least 100 free holders who are residents of the area to be incorporated.
3. That the area to be incorporated contains a resident population of 1,404.
4. That the area to be incorporated consists partly of lands which have been platted into lots some blocks in which plants have been executed according to law and have been recorded in the office of the register of deeds in an for Dakota County, Minnesota, and partly of unpleasant lands which are adjacent to the platted lands and are so conditioned as to be properly subject to village government. The area lies partly in Burnsville Township and partly in Lakeville Township, Dakota County, Minnesota and is described as follows:
5. the boundary of the area to be incorporated is shown on the attached map and marked exhibit a which is made a part hereof.
6. The quantity of land in the assessed value, both plastered and unclouded is as follows:
7. That the area to be incorporated is now being served by the Lakeville and savage fire departments. Police protection is furnished by the County sheriffs and local constables. There is neither central water supply nor central sewage disposal.

The Battle for Black Dog by Bill LanoueOver the Years - December 2006, a magazine of the Dakota County Historical Society features Bill Lanoue's article on the 1961 events that changed Burnsville.
Black Dog Power PlantA postcard showing the Black Dog Power Plant.
Senate almost dropped old annexation law circa 1964In an undated newspaper clipping: A report in the St. Paul Pioneer Press shed some light on how the law which allowed the Black Dog annexation twice escaped repeal....
Suburbs divided in sympathy and evny in Burnsville caseAugust 31, 1961 MInneapolis Tribune:

Private sympathy for Burnsville and private envy of Bloomington have been expressed by officials in other suburbs in the walk of Bloomington's annexation moves last week...
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