From

Bradbury Township

 

Mille Lacs County, Minnesota

Mille Lacs News

Since 4/18/07

The Minnesota Department of Revenue denies Nexus tax exempt status. See why!

 

Open Letter

To The Mille Lacs County Commissioners

The City will grant NEXUS tax abatement.

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8/31/2007

Please publish this letter to the Mille Lacs County Commissioners

August 31, 2007

Dear Commissioner,

The Minnesota Department of Revenue has determined that Nexus aka Nexus Diversified Community Services, does not qualify as a charity and it has recommended that Nexus is taxable in Mille Lacs County. Our County Assessor has concurred with the State’s recommendation, denying Nexus property tax exemption. Having been refused property tax exemption in Mower County, Crow Wing County, and now also Mille Lacs County, Nexus continues to disregard its tax obligation by now seeking property tax abatement. 

Minnesota Constitution Article XII, Section 1  states that the local government is prohibited from “exempting property from taxation...” It continues to prohibit the “granting to any private corporation, association, or individual any special or exclusive privilege, immunity or franchise …” Having been found taxable by the Minnesota Department of Revenue and Mille Lacs County Assessor, any efforts to circumvent this ruling, including the application of tax abatement, contradicts the Minnesota Constitution. Nexus has the right to appeal matters of property tax exemption through the Minnesota Tax Court, not evade paying taxes through tax abatement.

As United States citizens, we rely on our elected officials to represent us – we the people. With the City of Onamia forcing the purchase, annexation, and rezoning of 38 acres in Bradbury Township for the relocation of Mille Lacs Academy, a privately owned sex offender facility licensed by the Minnesota Department of Corrections, citizens of Bradbury Township were deprived of our rights to be represented and protected by our government. Larry E. Milton is not our mayor. Bill Hill Jr., Bob Mickus, Mark Loch, and Jerome Kryzer are not our City Council. Yet these five individuals made decisions affecting so many families outside their constituency. Citizens in Bradbury Township, including our Township Board were blindsided by the City of Onamia, who has continued to disregard the opposition by angry residents.  Over 90 individuals signed a petition opposed to the Nexus relocation, most representing households in Bradbury Township. This Petition, however significantly reflective of the Will of the People, has been totally, disrespectfully ignored. 

What has occurred here is an unconventional Taking – unconstitutional, outside the rule of law.  The Onamia government compensated the seller (three times the estimated market value) for the Taking of his land and the seller willingly agreed. But it is still a Taking. This land was not on the market. The seller did not approach the City. The City approached the seller. Under the Minnesota Constitution, the government has the right to take property for public use and byways. The Onamia government choreographed the Taking of the Grosslein/Bye property not for public use, but to act as liaisons for a private corporation. This sets precedence we cannot afford to tolerate in our democratic society. Government is supposed to serve the People. When it becomes an agent for big corporations, it fails its purpose, its principles, and its people.  This is government gone awry, even if the government is simply five “good ol’ boys” from the small town of Onamia. Considering the personal gain involved from this Taking, these conflicts of interest – by themselves -  should be enough to generate scrutiny and spur remedial action.

This is small town politics at its ugliest, its worst. In placing this commercial correctional facility in the midst of our residential neighborhood, the Onamia government is out of line. They’re not even adhering to their own city ordinances. These laws were designed to protect citizens from exactly the situation occurring here now. If the City of Onamia intends to re-write ordinances to accommodate one single private business deal, another appalling precedent will be set.

We have many concerns, including:

1.      Spot Zoning

2.      Incongruity of the massive commercial Nexus sex offender complex within the rural character of the neighborhood

3.      Lack of a Comprehensive Municipal Plan

4.      Incompetent city planners

5.      Open meeting law violations

6.      The disregard by city officials of existing city ordinances

7.      Dissolution of Wetlands

8.      Disregard for Environmental Impact

9.      Damages incurred by adjacent property owners as well as other properties in the neighborhood

Minnesota Constitution Sec. 13 states “Private property shall not be taken, destroyed, or damaged for public use without just compensation therefore, first paid or secured.”

Article XIII, Section 4. Indicates that “…a fair and equitable compensation shall be paid for land and for the damages arising from taking it.”

The Grossleins and Byes are receiving more than fair compensation. Their neighbors are not. Damages imposed upon Bradbury Township and local property owners from the Onamia Taking have yet to be acknowledged by Nexus, the City of Onamia or Mille Lacs County. Besides personal damages from being “deprived of life, liberty” etc. significant financial damages such as lowered property values and diminished salability of our properties have resulted from the Nexus relocation. No property owner has yet to receive government compensation for their damages. Research indicates the lowering of property values by as much as 17% with a single sex offender in the neighborhood. We will be faced with at least 94 sex offenders here. Can you allow all of these families in the neighborhood to suffer the loss of thousands and thousands of dollars so that a multi-million dollar corporation can rob us of our privacy?

There are many issues connected with the Taking of the Grosslein/Bye property and Nexus project which have not been resolved. There are many obstacles which lie ahead for Nexus. The Mille Lacs Messenger quoted Jim D’Angelo as saying that he has found lots of support for Nexus in the community. What is he talking about? Where has he been hanging out? How much time has he spent here?

We have found just the opposite, as evidenced by our Petition. I can’t tell you whether or not the majority of your constituency favors Nexus leaving Onamia. I can safely say that there is strong opposition for tax abatement. The majority of your voters are adamant that if Nexus stays in the community, they pay their taxes. With absolute certainty, I can report that your citizens surrounding the Nexus sex offender facility proposed building site are completely, unanimously opposed to Nexus. We want them out of here. To force us to accept such an inappropriate Taking is anti-American. Such a thing should not happen in this country.

Commissioner Frank Courteau told me that he would gladly welcome the Nexus facility into his backyard. I challenge him to follow through with that. If you support keeping these sex offenders in our community, then either build the Nexus complex in your own backyard or find a suitable place to put this institution where people won’t be hurt; where people will welcome the sex offenders. A residential community is not the appropriate location, especially in this neighborhood where residents have repeatedly expressed nothing but objection, and have been repeatedly ignored.

On your website, I noticed your pledge to citizens. I’d like to consider your own pledge in the context of the Nexus plans.

Pledge to Citizens

Mille Lacs County officials are dedicated to:

1.     Delivering essential services in the most efficient ways possible.

Contention: By supporting Nexus, you are not delivering any essential services. Nexus is a private corporation which offers no services whatsoever to our community.  Most, if not all Nexus inmates are adjudicated and placed at MLA through the judicial system and Nexus receives compensation from tax payer monies through the inmates’ respective counties. Very few of the sex offenders are from Mille Lacs County, but we also pay Nexus with our tax dollars. Nexus does not serve our community.

2.     Protecting children and vulnerable adults.

Contention: By supporting the placement of this sex offender facility in our residential neighborhood, you place children and vulnerable adults at risk. There are families with children, two elderly single women, an elderly couple, a disabled woman, and three day care centers in the immediate area surrounding the sex offender institution building site. Escapes may be rare, but they do occur. Many of these young men may not be considered dangerous, but there are inmates with histories of extreme violence. The public has not been informed of escapes, assaults and injuries to staff, etc. Dangers to the community have been greatly downplayed by Nexus, and have not received newspaper coverage. Information has been intentionally withheld from the public. Check out case histories of MLA inmates such as Larry Black, Dustin Hoium, and Paul Knutson. Some of the MLA “boys” have been diagnosed as sexual psychopaths.  Placing such dangerous sex offenders in our neighborhood is putting all of us - vulnerable or not, young, old or in between, at risk. Putting a business ahead of the personal safety of your citizens would not be living up to your pledge.

3.     Prosecuting criminals.

Contention: Most, if not all of the Nexus inmates have already been prosecuted and placed in the sex offender facility through the judicial system. Mille Lacs Academy is licensed by the Minnesota Department of Corrections. This type of facility does not belong in a residential area.

4.     Preserving the public's health and welfare.

Contention: Supporting Nexus is contraindicative to the public’s health and welfare. Placing them in our community jeopardizes our health and welfare.

5.     Spending revenues prudently and wisely.

Contention: By applying for tax abatement, Nexus is attempting to evade its obligation to pay revenue. By supporting their proposed tax abatement, the county would not receive the Nexus revenue – a considerable amount - to spend prudently and wisely. To allow Nexus to operate in our community without paying taxes is unfair to other businesses who lacking the 38 million dollar annual budget, still manage to pay their property taxes. It is unfair to the community. It is neither prudent nor wise. If they stay, at least make them pay.

6.     Maintaining and enhancing Mille Lacs County citizens' quality of life.

Contention: The Mille Lacs “Academy” sex offender facility benefits very few local people.  It provides relatively limited employment in the area (only about 30 employees in and around Onamia).  Many MLA employees live outside of the county. They commute from Brainerd, Little Falls, Aitkin, St. Cloud, Minneapolis, etc. They don’t live here. They spend their money in their own counties. The Nexus corporation reported that it spends only around $200,000 in Onamia each year for drugs, gas, groceries, and hardware. Ed Hupler – approximately 600 prescriptions, Onamia Councilman Bill Hill - gas AND groceries, and Marge Agnew – reporting less than $1,000 in hardware. Supporting Nexus does not maintain and enhance very many Mille Lacs County citizens’ quality of life. Just a few.  In fact, it has been proven that sex offenders are a liability to a community, hindering the quality of life. “Nobody wants to live by us,” said CEO Jim D’Angelo. For once, he did not lie. It’s true. Nobody does.

Due to the proximity of proposed sex offender facility to my home, I have spent the past five months of my life doing little else but researching all aspects of Nexus, including sexual deviancy, and juvenile sex offenders. It hasn’t been pretty. It hasn’t been fun. What began as NIMBY has evolved into a strong, solid, sane judgment that Nexus is not an asset to Onamia, Mille Lacs County, or anywhere else for that matter. The sex offenders are less of a concern than the company that keeps them. After delving into this, I would not support Nexus remaining in my community, even if they built their facility across 169 where it is a much more suitable location. I would not support Nexus remaining in my community, even if they stayed at Crosier. It is my judgment that Onamia would be much better off without sex offenders.

When I’m not researching (or looking for a new farm outside of Mille Lacs County), I have been working to stop Nexus from invading and destroying my neighborhood. This neighborhood is well worth saving. We are decent, law-biding, long term residents. Most of us have been Good Neighbors since long before Nexus bullied its way into Onamia back in 1991. The City of Onamia should be ashamed at what they have put our families through. We are turning to the County to make amends.

Jim D’Angelo has promised that Nexus will leave if they don’t receive Tax Abatement. That would be a good thing. Considering the large number of local citizens whose lives will be negatively affected  and who are adamantly opposed to Nexus relocating to this neighborhood; considering that Nexus offers comparatively little benefit to the Onamia community; considering that a sex offender facility actually works as a deterrent to attracting good families and new businesses to a town; and considering the precedence this Taking would set should Nexus succeed, I humbly and respectfully request that you deny this corporation any tax abatement whatsoever. We don’t want them here. We don’t need them here. If they insist on staying, they should pay their fair share.

Sincerely,

 

J.J. Swift Lukens

Bradbury Township Resident

For more information, please visit our website:   The Mille Lacs News    http://www.millelacsnews.com

Cc:

The Mille Lacs County Commissioners

Pat Stotz, Mille Lacs County Assessor

Minnesota State Representative Sondra Erickson

Minnesota State Senator Betsy Wergin

Tom Casey, Attorney

 

 

 

 

 

 

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