Rosemount to use eminent domain to acquire downtown property: Minnesota This Week, Burnsville MN, 8/7/07

By Tad Johnson

The city of Rosemount’s attempt to purchase a single property to clear the way for a downtown redevelopment project took some more twists and turns Monday night.

After a motion to table an item to authorize using eminent domain to acquire the Ratzlaff Service Station property failed, the 6 p.m. Rosemount Port Authority meeting adjourned and was continued after the 7:30 p.m. regular City Council meeting.

During the second part of the Port Authority meeting, commissioners voted 5-2 to initiate eminent domain action for the property owned by Rosemount resident and veterinarian Dr. Kurt Walter-Hansen.

“I can go home and make a decision that you think is wrong, but I can’t go home to make a decision that I think is wrong,” Port Authority Chairman Mike Baxter said right before the vote was taken.

Port Authority members Phillip Sterner and Bill Droste voted against using eminent domain.

During the first part of the meeting, Droste motioned to table the item until the Port Authority’s next meeting on Aug. 21.

“I think we should be the patient ones,” Droste said.

Baxter made a “friendly amendment” to Droste’s motion that the authority table the action to the Sept. 4 meeting with the additional goal to create a “fair process” to forge an option for purchasing the property.

A motion to table consideration of eminent domain until Sept. 4 failed by a 4-3 vote.

Commissioners Mark DeBettignies, Jay Tentinger, Mary Riley and Bruno DiNella voted against tabling the item.

Some commissioners made several remarks toward Hansen as he sat in the front row with his wife, Patricia Walter.

DiNella said he could predict what would happen if there was a continuation.

“Come Tuesday there will be no communication,” he said. “Then we will find two or three pieces of paper (at our places) with a new proposal. … I think we are just procrastinating and beating a dead horse.”

“I would be opposed to continuing this,” Tentinger said. “We are going to be used one more time. I don’t think that is what we want to do here.”

About 70 people attended the first part of the meeting and about 30 remained for the second portion of the meeting, which adjourned about 8:40 p.m.

The city reported that the next step will be that the authority’s attorney will file a condemnation petition with Dakota County District Court and arrange a court hearing.

The city plans to issue a “quick-take” notice, which means the authority intends to acquire title and possession of the property before the commissioners render a final award.

The court must hold a hearing on the petition and the use of quick-take, and the owners will have the opportunity to challenge the petition at the hearing.

The redevelopment project includes a single building with approximately 13,000 square feet of commercial space and approximately 103 apartment units as proposed by Stonebridge Companies of Apple Valley.

It would be situated on the north and east sides of Core Block East, which is bounded by Highway 3 and Burma Avenue and 146th Street and Lower 147th Street.

The redevelopment does not alter the three houses/business properties owned by Hansen at the southwest corner of the block.

Minnesota This Week, Burnsville MN: http://www.thisweek-online.com