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Township files complaint against Bemidji over plan (with copy of suit attached)

BEMIDJI - Bemidji Township is suing the city of Bemidji in an attempt to invalidate an orderly annexation agreement and recover monetary damages.

The township filed the lawsuit in Beltrami County District Court.

The complaint, dated July 23, seeks to determine the enforceability of the orderly annexation agreement signed by the city, Bemidji Township and Northern Township in 2004.

"Bemidji Township's lawsuit is based on the fact that the city has not complied with the annexation agreement from the start," said John Steffenhagen, the attorney for Bemidji Township. He works with Hellmuth and Johnson in Edina, Minn.

The complaint states that the city's conduct has caused Bemidji Township financial damage. The township seeks a judgment against the city for breach of contract in an amount in excess of $50,000, to be determined at trial, and the awarding of Bemidji Township attorney fees, costs and disbursements.

The township also seeks a declaratory judgment stating the annexation agreement is unenforceable and the township's contractual obligations are discharged.

The city has 20 days to file a response unless it requests and is granted an extension.

The city of Bemidji, according to City Attorney Al Felix, has submitted the complaint to the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, which has reviewed and assigned a Twin Cities-based attorney to represent the city in the matter.

Jim Thompson, an attorney with Kennedy and Graven, will draft the city's response, Felix said.

The township's complaint alleges the city breached the annexation agreement by not immediately providing city services such as water and sewer and not having any plans to do so. It also alleges the city is unable to provide enhanced street improvements.

Further, the complaint alleges the city amended its public improvement policies without following the appropriate procedure.

The complaint also alleges that the city breached the agreement through "at-tempted, selective" annexation by approving, and then withdrawing, a resolution to annex Phase 1 properties in Northern Township but not Bemidji Township.

The complaint claims the city failed to comply with the conflict resolution clause within the agreement.