Posted on Sat, Aug. 12, 2006
Renewal efforts hit snag
Court: Big-box retail violates city plan

Pioneer Press

The state's Court of Appeals has dealt a potentially serious blow to construction of a retail and housing redevelopment in Roseville, one of the biggest industrial revitalization efforts in the region.  [

"If you believe in something enough and you know in your heart it's right, you can fight city hall and win,'' said Joy Anderson, president of Friends of Twin Lakes, a group of about 40 people.

She said her group isn't opposed to redeveloping Twin Lakes, an area that now includes several abandoned truck terminals and warehouses and is considered an environmentally contaminated "brownfield.'' But they oppose the amount of proposed retail in the area, favoring more homes.

They filed suit, arguing that the city's planning process was procedurally flawed in several respects. The group lost in district court but won this week on appeal.

"We're certainly disappointed with the decision, and it is a significant decision,'' said attorney Paul Reuvers, who represented the city.

The suit stems from council approval last summer of a final redevelopment contract for Rottlund Homes and other developers to build a "first phase" of Twin Lakes, encompassing 80 acres of a 280-acre site north and east of Cleveland Avenue and County Road C. That phase is to include 730 housing units, 221,000 square feet of office space and 330,000 square feet of shops and restaurants.

A key tenant was to be a major discount store. Costco has frequently been mentioned in public deliberations as the anchor tenant. Developers have declined to publicly discuss those negotiations, and a spokeswoman for Seattle-based Costco said Friday that for competitive reasons, company policy precludes speculation on potential markets.

Friends of Twin Lakes contended the first phase violated the city's Comprehensive Plan, which they argued recommends against a big-box retailer and strip-mall development in that portion of the city. Bringing that plan into conformity with the Twin Lakes project requires approval by two-thirds of the council four votes on Roseville's five-person council.

The appeals court also agreed with Friends of Twin Lakes that the city must either revise its 2001 environmental review an Alternative Urban Areawide Review or complete a new Environmental Assessment Worksheet because the planned project has changed considerably since the AUAR was done five years ago.

The planning process has been difficult in Roseville, where virtually every facet of the project has been approved on a 3-2 vote. One council seat is open for this fall's elections, and the two mayoral candidates sharply disagree about Twin Lakes.

City officials and developers were cautious Friday in responding to the appeals court's decision, saying they wanted time to study the ruling. The matter isn't expected to come before the City Council until Aug. 21. A further appeal is possible.

"As a team, we are considering the options we have available to us,'' said Todd Stutz, division president of Rottlund Homes. "It's still our intent to move forward with the development, to obtain either additional approvals required by the opinion or take whatever legal action is required to move the project forward. We've committed too much time and money to not move forward.''

Mayor Craig Klausing, who is running for re-election, still held out hope Friday.

"If we're unable to move forward, I think that would be a tremendous loss to the city,'' he said. "If it means revising some things and revisiting some issues, that's what we have to do.''

Council Member Amy Ihlan, facing Klausing in the mayor's race, has opposed the Twin Lakes plan. "It's a shame it required a citizens' lawsuit to make the council follow the law and do the right thing," she said. "But this is a great opportunity to revisit the project and do it right."

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


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