(a) A proceeding for the creation of a district may be initiated by a petition to the agency, filed with its secretary, containing the following:
(1) a request for creation of the proposed district;
(2) the name proposed for the district, to include the words "sanitary district";
(3) a description of the territory of the proposed district;
(4) a statement showing the existence in such territory of the conditions requisite for creation of a district as prescribed in section 115.19;
(5) a statement of the territorial units represented by and the qualifications of the respective signers;
(6) the post office address of each signer, given under the signer's signature. A petition may consist of separate writings of like effect, each signed by one or more qualified persons, and all such writings, when filed, shall be considered together as a single petition.
(b) A public meeting must be held to inform citizens of the proposed creation of the district. At the meeting, information must be provided, including a description of the district's proposed structure, bylaws, territory, ordinances, budget, and charges. Notice of the meeting must be published for two successive weeks in a qualified newspaper published within the territory of the proposed district or, if there is no qualified newspaper published within the territory, in a qualified newspaper of general circulation in the territory, and by posting for two weeks in each territorial unit of the proposed district. A record of the meeting must be submitted to the agency with the petition.
Every petition shall be signed as follows:
(1) for each municipality wherein there is a territorial unit of the proposed district, by an authorized officer or officers pursuant to a resolution of the municipal governing body;
(2) for each organized town wherein there is a territorial unit of the proposed district, by an authorized officer or officers pursuant to a resolution of the town board;
(3) for each county wherein there is a territorial unit of the proposed district consisting of an unorganized area, by an authorized officer or officers pursuant to a resolution of the county board, or by at least 20 percent of the voters residing and owning land within the unit.
Each resolution shall be published in the official newspaper of the governing body adopting it and shall become effective 40 days after publication, unless within said period there shall be filed with the governing body a petition signed by qualified electors of a territorial unit of the proposed district, equal in number to five percent of the number of such electors voting at the last preceding election of the governing body, requesting a referendum on the resolution, in which case the resolution may not become effective until approved by a majority of the qualified electors voting at a regular election or special election which the governing body may call. The notice of any election and the ballot to be used shall contain the text of the resolution followed by the question: "Shall the above resolution be approved?"
If any signer is alleged to be a landowner in a territorial unit, a statement as to the signer's landowner status as shown by the county auditor's tax assessment records, certified by the auditor, shall be attached to or endorsed upon the petition.
At any time before publication of the public notice required in subdivision 4, or before the public hearing, if required under subdivision 4, additional signatures may be added to the petition or amendments of the petition may be made to correct or remedy any error or defect in signature or otherwise except a material error or defect in the description of the territory of the proposed district. No proceeding shall be invalidated on account of any error or defect in the petition unless questioned by an interested party before the reception of evidence begins at the hearing except a material error or defect in the description of the territory of the proposed district. If the qualifications of any signer of a petition are challenged, the agency or its agent shall determine the challenge forthwith on the allegations of the petition, the county auditor's certificate of land ownership, and such other evidence as may be received.
(a) Upon receipt of a petition and the record of the public meeting required under subdivision 1, the agency shall publish a notice in the State Register and mail a copy to each property owner in the affected territory at the owner's address as given by the county auditor. The mailed copy must state the date that the notice will appear in the State Register. Copies need not be sent by registered mail. The notice must:
(1) describe the petition for creation of the district;
(2) describe the territory affected by the petition;
(3) allow 30 days for submission of written comments on the petition;
(4) state that a person who objects to the petition may submit a written request for hearing to the agency within 30 days of the publication of the notice in the State Register; and
(5) state that if a timely request for hearing is not received, the agency may make a decision on the petition at a future meeting of the agency.
(b) If 25 or more timely requests for hearing are received, the agency must hold a hearing on the petition in accordance with the contested case provisions of chapter 14.
After the public notice period or the public hearing, if required under subdivision 4, and based on the petition, any public comments received, and, if a hearing was held, the hearing record, the agency shall make findings of fact and conclusions determining whether or not the conditions requisite for the creation of a district exist in the territory described in the petition. If the agency finds that conditions exist, it may make an order creating a district for the territory described in the petition under the name proposed in the petition or such other name, including the words "sanitary district," as the agency deems appropriate.
If the agency, after the conclusion of the public notice period or the holding of a hearing, if required, determines that the creation of a district in the territory described in the petition is not warranted, it shall make an order denying the petition. The secretary of the agency shall give notice of such denial by mail to each signer of the petition. No petition for the creation of a district consisting of the same territory shall be entertained within a year after the date of an order, but this shall not preclude action on a petition for the creation of a district embracing part of the territory with or without other territory.
Notice of the making of every order of the agency creating a sanitary district, referring to the date of the order and describing the territory of the district, shall be given by the secretary in like manner as for notice of the hearing on the petition for creation of the district.
An appeal may be taken from an order of the agency creating or dissolving a district, annexing territory to or detaching territory from a district, or denying a petition for any such action, as now or hereafter provided for appeals from other orders of the agency except that the giving of notice of the order as provided in subdivision 7 shall be deemed notice thereof to all interested parties, and the time for appeal by any party shall be limited to 30 days after completion of the mailing of copies of the order or after expiration of the prescribed period of posting or publication, whichever is latest. The validity of the creation of a district shall not be otherwise questioned.
Upon expiration of the time for appeal from an order of the agency creating a district, or, in case of an appeal, upon the taking effect of a final judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction sustaining the order, the secretary of the agency shall deliver a certified copy of the order to the secretary of state for filing. Thereupon the creation of the district shall be deemed complete, and it shall be conclusively presumed that all requirements of law relating thereto have been complied with. The secretary of the agency shall also transmit a certified copy of the order for filing to the county auditor of each county and the clerk or recorder of each municipality and organized town wherein any part of the territory of the district is situated and to the secretary of the district board when elected.