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Published September 06, 2011, 08:56 PM

Devils Lake City Commission Votes to Deny Tolna Coulee Land Sale to State

DEVILS LAKE (WDAZ-TV) - The Devils Lake City Commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to reject the state of North Dakota's offer to buy city land at the Tolna Coulee.

DEVILS LAKE (WDAZ-TV) - The Devils Lake City Commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to reject the state of North Dakota's offer to buy city land at the Tolna Coulee.

The state needs the land to build a control structure that would protect downstream communities from an uncontrolled water release out of Devils Lake.

Last week, state officials said they would take the land through eminent domain if the city didn't give it up.

Many city commission members say they will not stop fighting to protect the people they serve.

"Our goal has been to get water off the lake. That has been the huge issue and this control structure will not do that," Devils Lake mayor Dick Johnson said.

And some city officials wanted to give downstream interests a heads up.

"Our water's coming their way whether this control structure is built or not. Big amounts of water are coming down the Sheyenne," commissioner Craig Stromme said.

Now that the city has rejected the offer, it goes back to the state.

"I think the next step is the state's and then what the city does will depend on which steps the state takes," city attorney Tom Traynor said.

Last week state officials warned Devils Lake city officials that if they did not give up city-owned land required to build a control structure at the Tolna Coulee, the state would take it through eminent domain.

And while the future is unclear, Devils Lake city officials continue to say that the first priority is to get water off of the lake, not to hold it back.

"I think this is just the beginning, beginning of the end maybe, of where we're going to be going. But hopefully they are going to be sensitive to our concerns and say 'lets work with them, lets get those outlets going,'" Johnson said.

The state has the ability to take the land through a "quick take" process, which the city has up to 30 days to appeal.

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