Grey Cloud Island leaders worry about annexation by Cottage Grove

Homeowners on Grey Cloud Island are fighting to preserve their township’s long history, as a local mining company moves to annex 119.5 acres of its land in the township this spring.

"This is completely unexpected," township board supervisor Dan Ohmann told FOX 9 on Wednesday. "We have worked in good faith with Holcim every year."

Holcim’s petition for annexation reads: "the township form of government is not adequate to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of the community surrounding this property because of a shortage of staff and resources."

Ohmann responded: "in all the years that I’ve served, we have not had any complaints from Holcim for lack of service." Instead, he claims the township has pushed for Holcim to be a better neighbor and steward of the land. Now, he believes the company is trying to sidestep that, into a looser set of rules in Cottage Grove. 

The annexation could have large financial consequences for Grey Cloud Island Township, because of its gravel tax.

"We get about $30,000 each year," Ohmann said.  "Which is not a lot to somebody like Cottage Grove. But in the township, it definitely helps us with our roads."

"That would be the demise of Great Cloud Island history… a township since the 50s," Ohmann continued. "We are a small township. We have 120 houses. We have 100 residents on a petition that don’t want this.

Ohmann fears annexation won’t stop with the 119.5 acres, but instead that Holcim will eventually annex all 500+ acres of its land, piece by piece.

"That would lead us to not being able to make ends meet as a township," Ohmann said. "And they would govern over half our community, so it would not make a lot of sense."

Holcim sent FOX 9 this statement on Wednesday:

Cottage Grove has the required resources and expertise to handle the complex permitting and environmental regulations applicable to mining operations. Furthermore, we seek a progressive partner that values the vital role that high-quality construction aggregates play in the continued development of the twin cities and recognizes the potential for unique recreational space and residential development on this property after the mining of the property is completed. The company looks forward to continuing its operations at the Larson quarry for the foreseeable future. We also look forward to collaborating with cottage grove in its work to plan for growth and the development of local recreational amenities.  The annexation provides job security for the 28 employees working in the quarry and associated barge transport system.

FOX 9 reached out to Cottage Grove’s mayor and city administrator but did not hear back.