A petition to refer the Mitchell City Council’s $4.1 million land purchase to a public vote failed to be submitted within Tuesday’s deadline, according to Mitchell Finance Officer Michelle Bathke.

For the petition to refer the purchase of the Kelley land, which is planned to be used as a wetland to help aid Lake Mitchell’s water quality, it needed to be submitted by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

According to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office, a referendum petition requires the signatures of 5 percent of registered voters in the city of Mitchell, which is based on the number of voters recorded by the Davison County auditor on the second Tuesday in January of the current election year.

As of Jan. 8, 2019, Bathke said there were 8,509 registered voters in Mitchell, which means 426 signatures were needed to make up 5 percent of the registered voters. Mitchell resident Steve Sibson in January wrote a letter to the editor printed in The Daily Republic stating his plans to circulate a petition to refer the land purchase.

The purchase agreement includes $1.6 million that would go toward an approximately 330-acre parcel of land, while the other $2.5 million would be spent on a 41-acre property that includes the residential home of Peggy Kelley, located at 40580 250th St., 1 mile west of Lake Mitchell.

With the purchase not going to a public vote, the city council is now able to move forward in developing a wetland that will serve as a natural filter aimed at improving the water quality of the Lake Mitchell watershed.

Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson said he’s excited to move further along in the city’s efforts to begin addressing the history of algae woes Lake Mitchell has been dealing with.

“We can start looking to other agencies to work with us on designs for the project,” he said. “We’re able to get the cogs in motion to get this going in the direction it needs to for us to help Lake Mitchell.”