Star Lake residents will decide on district [UPDATED]Published 11:12am Wednesday, August 28, 2013 Updated 8:18pm Wednesday, October 9, 2013
The proposed Star Lake lake improvement district will go to a public vote of property owners next year after petitions were formally presented to the Otter Tail County Board Tuesday.
The Board had approved the LID in July, but opponents of it gathered more than enough signatures to bring it to a vote. More than 48 percent of Star Lake property owners signed a petition to bring the issue to a vote, far above the 26 percent required, according to Otter Tail County Auditor Wayne Stein. The board will now have to issue a stay on the proposed law, which District Two Commissioner Wayne Johnson said would likely occur at a September County Board meeting.
District Two Commissioner Wayne Johnson, who represents Star Lake Township, said many he spoke with on the issue, whether for or opposed to the LID, wanted to see it brought before the public.
“A lot of people signed the petition and were ready to sign the petition no matter what way the county board went,” Johnson said.
The vote will be held July 5, 2014. Stein said a site had yet to be chosen, but it will be held at a public building, with Star Lake Town Hall as a possibility.
After the Board’s LID approval was published on July 26, opponents had 30 days to gather enough signatures, but Stein received the petitions on August 13. Eventually, 72 signatures were rejected for a variety of reasons, including duplicates and the signee not being a Star Lake property owner. 321 signatures were accepted in Stein’s final count.
Marv Hexum, a Star Lake property owner, was one of the people who collected signatures. He said he is against the LID because it is a new form of taxation and government, but also said it was important for the public to have a voice on the issue.
“We feel getting it to the vote was what we needed to do,” Hexum said. “It should have been this way all along.”
The percent of Star Lake landowners who signed the initial LID petition surpassed the amount on the petition for Marion Lake, where a proposed LID was voted down earlier this year.
“One conclusion would be, based on these percentages and how they are fairly similar to Marion Lake, that the outcome may not be in the direction of those that are interested in having a district created,” Stein said.
However, Stein did caution that many of those who signed the signatures could be LID supporters who simply wanted to see the issue come to a vote.
Such a vote has to take place in either July or August and because it is so late this year, Stein called for the vote to be set in early July 2014. He said this will give both supporters and opponents plenty of time to campaign for their cause and will also allow Star Lake landowners to make plans to vote.
Stein said reminders will be sent to eligible voters next year when the election gets closer. He also said there would likely be an extended absentee voting period.