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Battle for Black Dog Raged over 20 years Ago 1982

February 16, 1982

Over the years, the Minnesota Valley has been the scene of numerous battles, including historic battles between the Sioux and the Chippewa and the famous Sioux Uprising of 1862.
Of more significance to the modern generation, however, was the unforgettable “Battle over Black Dog,’'which was raging just 20 years ago.

This legal battle involved the infamous attempt on the part of the City of Bloomington to annex the land south of the Minnesota River on which the Northern State Power Co.’s Black Dog plant is located.
Wally Day, chairman of the Burnsville Town Board at the time, still bristles with anger when he recalls the events which transpired during that intense battle.
The controversy came to light on August 22, 1961, when Bloomington city officials announced their intention to annex the 159-acre power plant site.
At the time, state law permitted a municipality to annex up to 200 acres of unincorporated land sim ply at the request of the owner.
In this instance, NSP officials had been quietly working with Bloomington officials on the annexation proposal, and Burnsville, because it was an unincorporated township, suddenly found itself in jeopardy of losing its greatest source of tax dollars.
It was reported that Ray Olson. Bloomington’s city manager, was largely responsible for initiating the behind-the-scene planning for the annexation deal.
Burnsville officials, however, were totally unaware of what was happening until the annexation was formally announced.
Wally Day recalls that the first he heard about the deal was when Pat Connelly, the Burnsville town clerk at the time, called to advise that he had heard that Bloomington had filed to annex the Black Dog plant.
Anticipating the serious consequences of the annexation, Day immediately contacted David Grannis of the legal firm of Grannis and Grannis to request that he handle Burnsville’s defense.
On Wednesday, August 13, 1961, approximately 500 Burnsville residents participated in a hastily-called meeting at the Burnsville Town Hall, located on County Road 5.
As a result of that meeting, the residents and town officials unanimously agreed to take the annexation attempt to the courts.
Attorney Grannis informed the township officials that the court was requiring a $225,000 security bond be posted during the legal process.
As collateral for this bond, Day offered his farm and personal property as collateral, which was accepted by the judge.
On the same day as the hastily- called town board meeting, the League of Women Voters from Bloomington distributed a pamphlet to homes in Burnsville, giving reasons why NSP was convinced Bloomington should share in the economic value of the Black Dog plant.

It was pointed out that the Black Dog plant had an assessed valuation of $10.5 million and, further, that Bloomington could provide stabilized urban services and experience in developing adjacent properties.
The day after these pamphlets were distributed in Burnsville a group of local residents picked them up and returned them to Bloomington, depositing them on the steps of the city hall.
The aroused residents gave some thought to boycotting Bloomington merchants, but Wally Day discouraged such action, noting that the merchants were not actually in favor of the annexation deal.

Subsequently, a meeting was held at Burnsville High School which was attended by 400or more residents, all of whom stated they wanted to fight Bloomington’s annexation plan.
As an alternative to this plan, Bloomington offered to annex all of Burnsville, but this proposal, too, was strongly opposed by local residents.
Joe Robbie, now a prominent sports figure in Florida, was executive secretary of the Minnesota Municipal Commission at that time and he supported Bloomington’s annexation plan.
Meanwhile, the Burnsville Citizens League initiated a petition opposing the annexation, and also supported the cause by attending all the hearings involved in the Black Dog annexation.
During the winter of 1961, Day recalls, a hearing was held at Burnsville High School at which testimony was given pertaining to the annexation.
Among those supporting Burnsville’s cause were Howard Dahlgren of Midwest Planners; Ozzie Springstad, the town board’s financial consultant; and Bonestroo and Rosene Associates, the town’s engineering firm.

Eventually, the Dakota County District Court in Hastings issued a ruling which supported Burnsville’s defense.
This ruling, however, was appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which later in 1962upheld the District Court decision.
Thus, Burnsville turned out to be the victor in the “battle over Black Dog,’one that was costly, but pleasing to those on this side of the Minnesota River.
Commenting recently on the Black Dog affair, Wally Day said, “We had good professional help, along with the merchants from Bloomington, who helped win the Black Dog battle.”
And commenting further, he said, “I had a lot of satisfaction personally in winning the decision over Bloomington.”

August_242C_1961_Black_Dog.pdf Authorize_incorporation.pdf Battle_for_Black_Dog_20_Years.pdf blackdog_calendar.jpg blackdog_plant_older_photo.jpg
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