GROUP VOWS PROJECT REVIEW COURT ACTION PLANNED OVER TWIN LAKES APPROVAL

Author: STEVE SCOTT Pioneer Press

Date: December 8, 2004

A citizens group failed to force a new environmental review of a planned retail-office-housing development in Roseville, but organizers say they will go to court to get Monday's City Council decision overruled.

The council denied a petition from the Friends of Twin Lakes, who say a review conducted in 2001 is no longer valid because the proposed project headed by the Rottlund Cos. has changed significantly.

"It's not over," said Joy Anderson, president of the group of neighbors in the 280-acre Twin Lakes development area. "Of course we're disappointed that they won't listen to the people. But on the other hand, we weren't surprised."

A 3-2 majority of the council upheld the 2001 study, called an Alternative Urban Areawide Review.

"The issue is not whether further environmental study is needed," Mayor Craig Klausing said. "Certainly it will be. The question is, does the proposed plan deviate in such a way to deem the AUAR invalid? I vote that it does not."

Two council members agreed with the citizens group that the 3-year-old review was out of date.

"We need to know more about harmful chemicals at that site," said Council Member Tom Kough, who also cited increased traffic and noise as problems meriting further review.

Among its arguments, the citizens group alleged that hazardous trichloroethylene -- a solvent used to remove grease -- has been found on the site since the first review, and that the proposed route of Twin Lakes Parkway has been moved too close to Langton Lake.

"We have new information we did not know in 2001," said Council Member Amy Ihlan, who also sided with the Friends of Twin Lakes petition. "TCE, a known carcinogen, has been discovered in area groundwater, but we don't know where it's coming from. We're going to risk public health if we don't know where the TCE is located."

About 170 acres of the Twin Lakes site remains to be developed. Much of the area, northeast of County Road C and Cleveland Avenue, was the site of now-abandoned truck terminals.

Kough and Ihlan cited financial and legal risks to the city if a new environmental review were not conducted.

Council Member Dean Maschka said the ongoing development process will address the environmental concerns, but that the threshold was not met to toss out the first study.

"Right now, we have a mess over there," he said. "I believe when this project is done we'll have a vastly improved area."

Although no specific plan is in place, the proposal suggests 730 housing units, 221,000 square feet of office development and 331,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. The size of the site and its proximity to Interstate 35W have made it a long-coveted, and controversial, parcel in the east metro area.

Council Member Greg Schroeder said the planned project is designed to clean up the site.

"I'd like to put aside the notion we'll all die tomorrow from TCE," he said. "It's there, and we'll take care of it. We're not going to suck it into your wells. We're not going to turn into three-legged frogs in that area."

Anderson said her group isn't fighting the developers, who also include Dan Commers of Roseville Properties, John Johannson of Welsh Cos. and the Ryan Cos.

"They were hired by the city of Roseville," she said. "They're doing their job. They're out there to make money.

"Our problem is with the City Council and the city staff. We're not against redevelopment, but we think it should be the right project. We do not like the current proposal."

Steve Scott may be reached at sscott@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5526.

Author: STEVE SCOTTPioneer Press

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