Credit River Township became a city on June 7, bringing the total number of Minnesota cities to 854.
With the swearing in of its first City Council complete, Credit River has officially become the state’s newest city.
Credit River held a special election on May 11 and finalized its transition from township to city by swearing in four council members and Mayor Chris Kostik at its first meeting on June 7.
Located in Scott County, Credit River is the first township to become a city in Minnesota since 2015, when Rice Lake, north of Duluth, did the same. The change became feasible in January, when State Administrative Law Judge Jessica Palmer-Denig granted Credit River Township’s petition to incorporate.
At a population approaching 6,000, Credit River was one of the state’s largest townships. It is surrounded by the cities of Lakeville, Savage, and Prior Lake. With this change, the state of Minnesota now has 854 cities.
A 15-year journey
Credit River Township officially declared its desire to become a city in July 2020 through the approval of a resolution from the township board. But, in truth, it’s been a nearly 15-year journey that began in 2006 when area development caught local attention and residents started talking about the need to incorporate as a city.
“There was a big group of residents who brought it up at that point and wanted to move forward,” says Kostik, who previously served as the township’s board chair.
The township began budgeting to start making the change in 2010. In 2018, Credit River lost two small parcels of land totaling about 15 acres when residents desiring sewer and water service applied to Prior Lake for annexation.
When a third annexation application came in 2020, the Prior Lake City Council declined to pursue it. But with development creeping closer to Credit River’s borders, and the likelihood that further annexation efforts could loom, township residents determined they’d prefer to have more control over their future.
“As a township, when there are requests for annexation, by state statute you don’t really have any say in the matter,” Kostik says. “It’s really up to the city to decide if it wants the property.”
Changes with the transition
Most residents won’t notice many immediate differences, Kostik says, but a few changes have already been made. In January, Credit River took over planning and zoning for its own land, a job that was previously done by Scott County. Credit River also contracted with the county for a sheriff’s deputy to provide police coverage for the city.
As part of the transition, Credit River also submitted to the Metropolitan Council a 2040 Comprehensive Plan that outlines plans for future development. The document covers future land use, housing, parks, natural resources, and water and sewer systems.
Keeping its small-town appeal
The biggest benefit of being a city, Kostik says, is the ability Credit River now has to maintain tighter control over inevitable future growth. That was important to residents, who want to make sure the city maintains its small-town appeal.
“The residents all tell us they like Credit River the way it is, and they are a little worried about some of the change,” he says. The City Council has “understood that [and], as much as we can, we will try to keep things the same. Change will happen over time naturally but there’s no light switch today that says, ‘Tuesday we’re going to have big changes in Credit River.’”