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Friday, May 21, 2010

Town and Country Club sues St. Paul over new sidewalk

Town and Country member request...Please click onto the COMMENTS for the story.

2 Comments:

Anonymous pioneer Press said...

By Dave Orrick
dorrick@pioneerpress.com
Updated: 05/21/2010 06:34:17 PM CDT


Town and Country Club on Friday sued St. Paul over a sidewalk it doesn't want, won't benefit from, and, it alleges, is being rammed down its throat along with the $43,000 bill.

The city's top attorney says the city has followed the law and will fight the lawsuit, which was filed in Ramsey County District Court.

Among other demands, the suit asks a judge to bar the city from building the sidewalk, at least for now, until other options can be studied.

The dispute surrounds a sidewalk the city plans to build this summer on the north side of Marshall Avenue on the 133-year-old country club's property as part of a $600,000 plan to widen the road and improve bicycle and pedestrian traffic feeding into Minneapolis via the Lake Street bridge over the Mississippi River.

The project will be paid for with federal funds — except for the sidewalk, for which Town and Country has been assessed $42,850. In addition, the country club says in its lawsuit it will be forced to buy $40,000 in equipment to clear snow from the sidewalks and pay additional labor costs each year.

While there was widespread support for much of the plan, the sidewalk issue became mired in a late-developing controversy winter 2009 when Town and Country and other groups learned details of it weeks before the council was to vote on it.

The country club argues it was never properly given notice of the plan and didn't have a fair chance to argue its case, and its attorney, Patrick H. O'Neill

Jr., said the 500-member club received no casual inquiries from the city about how members felt about the matter until the legally required notice of public hearing. Because it's not a homeowner, the country club is barred from membership into neighborhood groups consulted by the city on such matters.
And since the private country club's members won't regularly use the sidewalk — it'll be outside its fence line — and installing it will result in killing 26 flowering crabapple trees, the sidewalk will actually hurt its property value, the suit alleges.

"This is a calculated attempt to have a sidewalk paid for by a landowner that does not want it, need it, and will not benefit from it," the lawsuit asserts. Under Minnesota law, property owners can be assessed for public improvements to their land only when the property benefits from it.

"I'm sure appraisers will come out in support of both sides of it," interim City Attorney Gerald Hendrickson said Friday.

"I think the city acted legally and appropriately, and the dispute is actually political, and I believe that was fairly resolved by the city council," Hendrickson said.

The St. Paul City Council approved the plan, including the sidewalk assessment, Feb. 25, 2009, by a 6-1 vote. Council Member Pat Harris cast the dissenting vote, siding with the country club.

The lawsuit singles out Council Member Russ Stark, who represents the area and supported the plan. "Stark, who is a biker/walker in the area, has made this his 'personal' project, and, as a result, has imposed his personal will rather than the proper objective judgment, which is an abuse of process, and an abuse of due process," the lawsuit states.

Stark could not be reached for comment late Friday afternoon.

O'Neill said attempts by the country club to persuade the city to use alternatives such as wood chips or pervious surfaces were rejected, as was their lobbying effort to persuade Mayor Chris Coleman to refuse to sign off on the plan.

Should the lawsuit fail to prevent the sidewalk from being built but succeed in overturning the assessment to the country club, O'Neill said city taxpayers will be on the hook. "Then who's going to pay for it?" he said. "The other residents of the neighborhood? That doesn't make sense either."

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sick assholes in city hall.

10:49 AM  

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