A contentious legal battle spanning the past few years may finally be coming to an end tonight, for a while at least.
Havre City Council will vote at tonight’s meeting on an out-of-court settlement to the legal woes surrounding the 2009 annexation of several properties, many large commercial areas, west of the Havre city limits.
Many of the city officials involved have stayed mum this morning waiting for an announcement at the council meeting. Councilman Andrew Brekke, who has been near the center of these talks since 2009, only said that the announcement should satisfy everyone.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s a great thing, ” Brekke said.
Hill County Commissioner Jeff LaVoi said he was a part of talks earlier this summer that led to the settlement.
From the talks he participated in, he said this agreement should clear out the frustrating tangle that annexation has become in the past few years to offer a fresh start.
“The gist of it would be, they would stop the annexation process and start over as some point in time, ” LaVoi said.
The current situation began when the city laid claim to the properties west of town that consume many city resources.
Objecting to the changes associated with being within city limits and how the city attempted the annexation, many property owners filed a lawsuit against the city in 2010, including David Clausen, Patrick Newton and the owners of the Holiday Village Mall.
Over the past two years the lawsuit has changed judges and locations several times.
Any new effort should go more smoothly, from both the experience of the last attempt’s issues and House Bill 575, a revision of the state’s annexation statutes that was passed during the last legislative session that was requested by the city of and introduced by then- Assistant Hill County Attorney and local representative Kris Hansen.