STEVE SCOTT, Pioneer Press
January 5, 2005

A Roseville citizens group asking for a new environmental review of the Twin Lakes development filed suit Monday against the city in Ramsey County District Court.

The action was expected after Friends of Twin Lakes -- most of them neighbors of the 280-acre site near Langton Lake -- unsuccessfully petitioned the City Council in recent months to nullify a study conducted in 2001.

The citizens group says the earlier review should no longer count because the current proposed development, headed by the Rottlund Cos., includes more housing and retail and less office space than previously assumed.

It also contends that recent discoveries of hazardous trichloroethylene, or TCE, were not dealt with in the 2001 study.

The developers are not named in the suit. Friends of Twin Lakes is asking the court to prevent the city from taking any action on the development until the previous review is revised or a new one is conducted.

"We will vigorously defend the City Council's decisions, which have been shaped throughout this process by the city attorney's legal advice," city manager Neal Beets said Tuesday.

The council in December denied the group's petition for a new review by a 3-2 vote -- the same tally by which most if not all Twin Lakes votes have been decided. A vigorous group of the project's opponents has attended each meeting when the development has been discussed.

"What the court will look at is whether there is evidence to support the city's conclusion, even though there may be conflicting or competing evidence to support another conclusion," city attorney Jay Squires said.

Friends of Twin Lakes says the earlier environmental study also is outdated because new plans would increase traffic on the projected Twin Lakes Parkway. The group alleges the proposal violates the city's Shoreland Ordinance regarding preservation of open space.

The case will be decided by summary judgment after a hearing, Squires said. The written documentation and public comment collected by the city while it considered the group's petition will become the legal record for the court's consideration.

The City Council is scheduled to take up the developers' land-use plan at its Monday meeting. The proposal currently calls for 730 housing units, 221,000 square feet of office development and 331,000 square feet of commercial and retail.

Much of the area, northeast of County Road C and Cleveland Avenue, was the site of now-abandoned truck terminals.

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

2005 St. Paul Pioneer Press and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.