Sun Current http://current.mnsun.com Local News for Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina and Richfield Minnesota Wed, 22 Oct 2014 21:30:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ‘Citizens’ sue Edina over 66 West http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/citizens-sue-edina-over-66-west/ http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/citizens-sue-edina-over-66-west/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 21:30:04 +0000 http://current.mnsun.com/?p=138781 A group of undisclosed members referring to themselves as “citizens” is suing the city of Edina over the city’s approval of the 66 West project to house formerly homeless young adults from the western suburbs.

“Citizens to Preserve the Edina Regional Medical District” filed a lawsuit Oct. 8, alleging the Edina City Council violated city code and state statute by approving in September the preliminary rezoning and a Comprehensive Plan amendment for 66 West prior to Metropolitan Council approval. It alleges 66 West will cause businesses in the Regional Medical District to “suffer irreparable harm.”

The group is alleging that state law requires the Comprehensive Plan amendment to be approved by the Met Council first before the city council can approve it. The Met Council hasn’t approved the amending of the Comprehensive Plan, and therefore the city did a procedural error by approving the preliminary rezoning of the 66 West property in conflict with the city’s current Comprehensive Plan, according to the complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court.

Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative is proposing the construction of a two-story, 39-unit building at 3330 W. 66th St., to house formerly homeless young adults from the western suburbs. Edina Community Lutheran Church is the lead congregation on the project.

A TCF Bank currently sits on the property proposed for 66 West. The property is zoned Planned Office District-1, but is guided as Regional Medical District in the Comprehensive Plan, and the rezoning would change the site’s zoning to Planned Unit Development.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved recommending the final rezoning during its meeting Oct. 8. The city unanimously approved the first reading of the final rezoning of the property, contingent on the Met Council’s approval of the Comprehensive Plan amendment, at its meeting Tuesday, Oct. 21.

City Attorney Roger Knutson told the council that it can hold the first reading because its a procedural action. There aren’t any legal issues with the first reading of the rezoning motion because the city council isn’t adopting the final rezoning in a second reading until after the Met Council approves the Comprehensive Plan amendment, he said.

Representing the citizens group, Larkin Hoffman attorney Bob Long disagreed during the rezoning’s public hearing, saying the city doesn’t have the authority to complete a first reading of the rezoning.

City Manager Scott Neal told the Edina Sun Current, “We have reviewed Mr. Long’s legal position with the city attorney and we do not believe his position will rule the day.”

Beacon Executive Director Lee Blons told the council Oct. 21 during the public hearing that she was pleased the Planning Commission wasn’t “intimidated” by the lawsuit when it considered the rezoning Oct. 8.

The lawsuit

Citizens to Preserve the Edina Regional Medical District is comprised of “property owners, business owners and tenants of the Edina Regional Medical District,” according to an Oct. 8 letter sent to the city from Larkin Hoffman attorney Bob Long. The group is a nonprofit corporation registered at Larkin Hoffman’s Bloomington office address, according to the complaint. Although Long is the only attorney who has spoken on behalf of the group at the city’s meetings, Larkin Hoffman attorney Tamara O’Neill Moreland is listed as the group’s attorney for the lawsuit.

When asked by the Edina Sun Current for more detailed information about the group, Long responded that he wasn’t the attorney representing the group. When asked a second time, he said the law firm is not commenting on the litigation, including giving the names of anyone associated with Citizens to Preserve the Edina Regional Medical District.

Long represented 66 West neighbors Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Institute and Advanced Skin Therapeutics during the 66 West preliminary rezoning approval process.

The timing of the lawsuit, filed on the same day as 66 West was on the Planning Commission’s agenda, was due to paperwork and not because the group was trying to file it at the last minute, Long told the Planning Commission Oct. 8.

Citizens to Preserve the Edina Regional Medical District is requesting Hennepin County District Court void the council’s actions, declare that the city acted without a “rational basis” for approving the two motions and direct the city council to deny the 66 West requests, according to its complaint.

“The project and these future nonconforming uses will dilute the full potential of the district which negatively impacts the significant capital investments already made in the district in reliance on the Comprehensive Plan and would negatively impact future investments by property owners, businesses and others in the medical industry that would locate in the district,” according to the group’s complaint.

The Regional Medical District was established for “the development and operation of hospitals, medical and dental offices and clinics, and laboratories for performing medical and dental research, diagnostic testing, and analytical or clinical work, all having a direct relationship to the provision of medically related services,” the complaint states.

Beacon’s housing proposal is “a use that is not medically related,” according to the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that the city council also violated city code on the project’s floor-to-area ratio, the number of parking spots and minimum lot size, and additionally the council did spot zoning by rezoning the property for a specific beneficiary. It also alleges that the project isn’t in compliance with the Planned Unit Development zoning because the use requested for the property is “supportive housing” and not “affordable housing.”

The complaint states the city was notified about surrounding property owners’ concerns regarding the non-medical use of the property beginning after the Planning Commission’s review of 66 West’s sketch plan in April.

“Allowing a non-medically related use in the district would erode the integrity of the district, negatively impacting future investments by property owners, business and others in the medical industry that would locate in the district,” the complaint states.

The group also notes that it shared with the city concerns over the safety of children attending the Step-By-Step Montessori School, located on a neighboring property also guided for the Regional Medical District in the Comprehensive Plan.

“They again explained that criminal activity and children are not compatible, especially when they exist within 100 yards,” the complaint states. Additionally, “it was explained that safety is an issue for the female employees of the school who work from early morning to late in the evening,” according to the complaint. The lawsuit alleges that members of the Citizens to Preserve the Edina Regional Medical District will lose the “full and safe use” of their properties if the 66 West project moves forward.

City council’s Oct. 21 meeting

The city council’s approval Oct. 21 is contingent on the Met Council’s approval of the Comprehensive Plan amendment.

Amendments to a city’s Comprehensive Plan must go through a 60-day comment period, followed by approval by the Met Council. The Met Council’s Community Development Committee is tentatively scheduled to review the amendment at its Nov. 3 meeting and if approval is recommended, the Met Council would review the amendment at its Nov. 12 meeting.

The Comprehensive Plan amendment would allow affordable housing in the Regional Medical District. The council also amended the Comprehensive Plan last year to include senior housing in the Regional Medical District.

If 66 West was being built a block-and-a-half north of its site on West 66th Street, it could be built without needing to go through the process to receive these approvals because it would be in high-density housing, Planning Commission Chair Kevin Staunton pointed out during the commission’s Oct. 8 meeting.

Long alleged during the Oct. 21 meeting that council members said in September that if Beacon didn’t receive the funding for 66 West, the property wouldn’t be rezoned. Councilmember Joni Bennett countered that, saying she has no record of that being said during the council’s Sept. 2 meeting. Councilmember Ann Swenson added that the council’s conversation focused on a what-if situation in which the project isn’t built after the council approves the rezoning. Bennett concluded that that situation is covered in the rezoning.

The issue of finances was raised due to Beacon not receiving funding from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency this year and will now wait until next year to reapply for the funding. The application for the funding was tied to the site on West 66th Street. Beacon not receiving the MHFA funding now opens a door to discuss Beacon’s needs and moving forward because the community has an interest in having Beacon in Edina, Councilmember Mary Brindle said after the council’s vote on the rezoning.

Long suggested the city wait to see if Beacon can close on the sale of the property in November first before it approves the rezoning. If Beacon can’t close on the property, it’ll be vacant and then other people can come forward to purchase the property, Long said.

Mike Minor of Step-by-Step Montessori said during the public hearing that the property remaining vacant when it could have other “suitors” wishing to purchase it will cause an “uncertainty” that is unfair to the neighboring properties. It’s “difficult for us to operate with uncertainty,” he said. He also asked the council to revisit the rezoning in a month to see if Beacon could close first.

Bennett pointed out that Blons said Beacon has the funding needed to close on the property.

Erik Scheurle, a member of ECLC’s housing task force, took issue during the public hearing with people questioning the rush for the project. The rush is the 350 youth homeless in the western suburbs at night, he said. Edina has the chance to house 39 of them and he encouraged the city to continue with the project.

Contact Lisa Kaczke at lisa.kaczke@ecm-inc.com or follow her on Twitter @EdinaSunCurrent.

 
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Letter: Ron Erhardt supports women’s rights http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/letter-ron-erhardt-supports-womens-rights/ http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/letter-ron-erhardt-supports-womens-rights/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 20:00:08 +0000 http://current.mnsun.com/?p=138829 To the editor:

Ron Erhardt is and has always been an unwavering supporter of women’s rights. Whether it is leaving the decision about motherhood in the hands of the mother or equal pay for equal work, Ron supports women as first-class citizens under the law.

In 2013, the Legislature pass the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA), which covered many aspects of the workplace which affect women. Ron supported this legislation. The areas covered by this act include encouraging girls to go into high-paying fields of employment, creating more flexibility in family and sick leave, and giving all employees legal protection to discuss their salaries so women can find out if they are being paid less than their male peers.

Ron Erhardt works very hard at the Legislature and is an expert on finance and transportation. However, if you want to see his fiery side, get him talking about women’s equality. Very few people care as deeply about the dignity and rights of women under the law. He cares, and he acts on his beliefs. For this reason, Ron has earned the endorsement of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota and the Dakotas and NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota.

I have been proud to serve as co-chair to Ron Erhardt’s campaigns in 2012 and 2014. I am also a named supporter of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act. Women and men of Edina who believe their work should be compensated by its worth, not by their gender, need to vote for Ron Erhardt on Nov. 4.

Ardis Wexler

Edina 

Ardis Wexler is the co-chair of Ron Erhardt’s campaign.

 
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Fall colors at Centennial Lakes http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/fall-colors-at-centennial-lakes/ http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/fall-colors-at-centennial-lakes/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:48:22 +0000 http://current.mnsun.com/?p=138848 Autumn is in full swing with a display of colorful leaves at Centennial Lakes Park in photos taken by Edina resident Kathleen Dahlheimer on Saturday, Oct. 18. (Submitted photos)

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Quartet plays indigenous instruments http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/quartet-plays-indigenous-instruments/ http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/quartet-plays-indigenous-instruments/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:44:45 +0000 http://current.mnsun.com/?p=138669 Atahualpa, a quartet playing instruments from the native cultures of South America, will perform at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, at Gramercy Park Cooperative, 6711 Lake Shore Drive, Richfield.

Info: 612-861-1378.

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New Edina squad car hits the streets http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/new-edina-squad-car-hits-the-streets/ http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/new-edina-squad-car-hits-the-streets/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:40:58 +0000 http://current.mnsun.com/?p=138843 Residents will begin to see new Edina patrol cars on the roads.

New Edina squad cars. (Sun Current staff photo by Lisa Kaczke)

New Edina squad cars. (Sun Current staff photo by Lisa Kaczke)

Ford has ceased manufacturing the Crown Victoria used by law enforcement agencies in favor of a new SUV patrol car, and all in black or white, putting to an end the two-tone black-and-white squad cars.

The Edina Police Department tried keeping the two-tone cars by using white vinyl stuck on the front doors of its squads, but the vinyl was easily torn, Police Chief David Nelson said. It cost several hundred dollars to replace one door panel of the vinyl, whereas doing an entire graphics package of an entire car is cheaper, he said.

Nelson directed Deputy Chief Jeff Elasky to create a committee of six police department staff to design a different look for the Edina patrol cars compared to other police departments, and officers are happy with the result, Nelson said.

The first newly designed squad car began patrolling on Wednesday, Oct. 13. Six squad cars will be replaced this year with the new SUV and the two K-9 squad cars will be replaced next year.

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The front page of the Oct. 23, 2014 Eden Prairie Sun Current http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/the-front-page-of-the-oct-23-2014-eden-prairie-sun-current/ http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/the-front-page-of-the-oct-23-2014-eden-prairie-sun-current/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:10:04 +0000 http://current.mnsun.com/?p=138807 You can find the Eden Prairie Sun Current on sale at the following locations: City Hall, Eden Prairie School District, Jerry’s New Market, Kowalski’s Market, Shady Oak BP, Eden Prairie Liquor, Community Center, Dunn Brothers and the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce.

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The front page of the Oct. 23, 2014 Bloomington Sun Current http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/the-front-page-of-the-oct-23-2014-bloomington-sun-current/ http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/the-front-page-of-the-oct-23-2014-bloomington-sun-current/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:08:19 +0000 http://current.mnsun.com/?p=138804 You can find the Bloomington Sun Current on sale at the following locations: Penn Lake Library, Bloomington City Hall, Cub Foods, Festival Foods and Lunds.

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‘The Family’ sculpture moved off Richfield corner http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/the-family-sculpture-moved-off-richfield-corner/ http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/the-family-sculpture-moved-off-richfield-corner/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:07:18 +0000 http://current.mnsun.com/?p=138656 “The Family,” the sculpture that stood on the corner of Lyndale Avenue and 66th Street for 33 years, stands displaced in the parking lot of Lyndale Station in Richfield last Wednesday, a few feet from its former home. The sculpture was moved last week to accommodate a new building that will occupy the corner. It will be stored on site until it comes to rest at its new home, just north of the new building on Lyndale Avenue. (Sun Current staff photo by Andrew Wig)

“The Family,” the sculpture that stood on the corner of Lyndale Avenue and 66th Street for 33 years, stands displaced in the parking lot of Lyndale Station in Richfield last Wednesday, a few feet from its former home. The sculpture was moved last week to accommodate a new building that will occupy the corner. It will be stored on site until it comes to rest at its new home, just north of the new building on Lyndale Avenue. (Sun Current staff photo by Andrew Wig)

A landmark at the corner of Lyndale Avenue and 66th Street in Richfield has been moved in the name of redevelopment.

“The Family,” a sculpture by Richfield artist Norm Holen, stood at the intersection since 1981 until a construction crew moved it last week to make room for a Caribou Coffee and a restaurant called My Burger. The sculpture will be stored on site until it reaches its new resting place just north of the new building under construction.

Although displaced, the sculpture’s new surroundings will be similar to the corner where it stood for 33 years, according to Tom Etter, superintendent For Continuum Construction, the firm working on the project, which is expected to be finished next spring.

The sculpture will be surrounded by benches, as it was before, in an alcove that community planners call a “parklet.” Holen is fine with the new arrangement.

“I think it’s wonderful that they’re … going to take that amount of care to re-establish the same context,” said Holen, 77.

Those moving the sculpture from the corner on Tuesday, Oct. 14, were also careful not to damage the art as they hoisted it using nylon straps and a crane on the back of a boom truck, Etter explained.

The sculpture is staying on site, he continued, because transporting the stainless steel structure would have required laying it down. Fears were that would damage the work, which Holen said weighs 2,800 pounds and cost $25,000 to fabricate. Holen noted he designed the sculpture, but it was plasma cut in Chicago before being assembled on site.

The city initially made plans for an art installation at the corner as part of the national bicentennial celebration in 1976, but it took another five years to decide on the design and raise the money, Holen said. Initial plans called for a fountain at the corner before Holen suggested the sculpture, since it could be enjoyed year-round while a fountain would freeze in winter.

So Holen, a retired Augsburg College art professor, dreamed up “The Family” to represent the domestic unit of father, mother and child, with the craggy shapes set at varying heights to represent each family member.

Holen is still doing sculpture every day, he says, with two works on display in a juried exhibit at the Bloomington Art Center through Nov. 28.

Contact Andrew Wig at andrew.wig@ecm-inc.com or follow him on Twitter @RISunCurrent.

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The front page of the Oct. 23, 2014 Richfield Sun Current http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/the-front-page-of-the-oct-23-2014-richfield-sun-current/ http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/the-front-page-of-the-oct-23-2014-richfield-sun-current/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:06:04 +0000 http://current.mnsun.com/?p=138801 You can find the Richfield Sun Current on sale at the following locations: Augsburg Library, Richfield Chamber, Richfield City Hall, Lunds and Walgreens.

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The front page of the Oct. 23, 2014 Edina Sun Current http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/the-front-page-of-the-oct-23-2014-edina-sun-current/ http://current.mnsun.com/2014/10/the-front-page-of-the-oct-23-2014-edina-sun-current/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:04:23 +0000 http://current.mnsun.com/?p=138791 You can find the Edina Sun Current on sale at the following locations: Edina Community Center, Edina Chamber of Commerce, Edina City Hall, Byerly’s and Jerry’s Foods.

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