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MIDWAY TOWNSHIP - The battle over Midway Township has reached new heights after the city of Duluth announces they also want a say in what should become of the Northland township.
"In my mind it should be a lengthy process. It should be a process that involves a lot of people that is very thoughtful," said Duluth Mayor Don Ness.
Duluth and Midway Township are exploring the possibility of entering into an orderly annexation, while Proctor wants to annex the entire township.
"Our approach is we're having conversations with Midway Township and we're looking at common interests and working with them to find a solution that will work for the residents who currently govern that land," said Ness.
Midway Township's agreement with Duluth comes as a shock to Proctor city officials.
"I'm really surprised. They've argued that we don't want to come in and be a part of the big city government. Well, if they think this is big city government wait until they get involved with Duluth," said Jim Rohweder, city administrator for Proctor.
One of the main talking points centers around potential development along the I–35 corridor.
Duluth and Midway Township aren't keen on commercial expansion, while Proctor sees it as a way to bring jobs to the area.
"If Duluth annexes Midway Township we're now surrounded on three sides by Duluth and Hermantown to the north and we're land locked with no future growth for the city," said Rohweder.
The township says Duluth shares a common goal, to maintain the town's current, rural feel and argues Proctor has little to offer them.
"That's not to say Proctor's a bad city. I have friends and relatives living in Proctor. I lived there for 17 years. It's a nice place to live and anyone who wants to should. We don't want to," said Jim Aird, vice chair of Midway Township.
Midway Township is confident that Proctor's annexation can be defeated, allowing it to remain as is.
But, Proctor says they're not going down without a fight.
Rohweder said, "We still think it's a good thing for everybody up here and it's something that we think is necessary for the city of Proctor and we're going to continue going forward with it."
Over the next 10–12 days, the city of Duluth and Midway Township will meet to discuss what both parties would like to see out of an orderly annexation.
Then on Jan. 10, both the Duluth City Council and Midway Township boards will meet to firm up and hopefully sign an official agreement.