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Published November 14, 2011, 10:26 PM

Some Cass County homeowners looking for annexation

Christine, ND (WDAY TV) - Proof tonight the fight to change the Fargo Diversion is far from over. Many in southern Cass County feel their voice isn't being heard, so they're set on doing something to change that.

Proof tonight the fight to change the Fargo Diversion is far from over. Many in southern Cass County feel their voice isn't being heard, so they're set on doing something to change that.

Many communities and property owners in southeastern Cass County feel slighted by their county. So they've signed a petition; a petition to leave the county and move into Richland County, where many feel their concerns will be better represented.

Cherie Mathison – Lives Just South of Hickson: “I'd rather be in Richland County because if we are in Cass County we are just going to be wiped out.”

Cherie Mathison is like many people in the area. And the petition to leave the county has been signed by every single eligible voter.

Cherie Mathison: “As part of Cass County we are not being represented by this issue.”

Nearly 150 people packed into the Christine Community Center tonight for a meeting with the MN-Dak Upstream Coalition. The Coalition was set up to represent those upstream who are opposed to the current diversion project.

Nathan Berseth – Lives in Northern Richland County: “There are alternative options that wouldn't adversely affect people; opportunities that would be placed on vast amounts of land that have no population on them.”

For the first time, the Coalition meeting was attended by several county representatives, including Commission Chair Darrel Vanyo and Administrator Keith Berndt, in an effort to strengthen relations with the group. But it seems little was accomplished.

Keith Berndt – Cass County Administrator: “If the intent is to tear through thousands of pages of documents and try to quiz the group on answers from those, I don't think that's the intent, but we'd be happy to respond to those questions that we can answer and those questions that we cannot answer.”

Petition organizers have already received approval from Richland County, they plan on turning over their petition to Cass County leaders next Monday.

Cass County's State's Attorney says there is a process in the North Dakota Century code for communities wanting to change counties. Birch Burdick says the area seeking annexation would need to be at least 36 square miles.

If it's not that big, which this area is not, it would need the approval of both the county it's seeking to separate from and the county it's seeking to join. The communities would also need to have a petition signed by a majority of voters living in that area.

Birch Burdick – Cass County States Attorney: “If the petition covers a large enough block of land then if the petition is otherwise appropriate, both commissions have to put it on the ballot of the next general election.”

The earliest this could be voted on would be next November's general election.

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