Judge denies request to halt vote on Minneapolis 2040 plan

December 06, 2018 10:14 PM

A legal battle will not stop the Minneapolis City Council from voting on its 2040 plan on Friday.

The plan would lay the groundwork for development in the city for decades to come. Late Thursday afternoon, a judge denied a motion from neighborhood and environmental groups who sued to block it.

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“We were delighted when we got the judges written opinion,” said Susan Segal, the city attorney. “This is a nice victory.”

In one part of his explanation, Judge Joseph Klein said, “…no imminent threat of irreparable harm exists that would flow directly from the City Council’s upcoming vote.”

If the Minneapolis City Council approves it during its Friday meeting, Segal said the plan will go to the Metropolitan Council. The Met Council is required to spend a minimum of four months reviewing the plan before sending it back to the City Council for a final decision.

“There would be no changes going into effect in the near term no matter what,” said Segal.

Jack Perry, the attorney representing the environmental groups, like Smart Growth, said he wants more time to study this plan. Perry initially said he planned to file an appeal early next week. But after further review Perry told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he will not do so, but still plans to push forward the original lawsuit.


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Perry and Smart Growth said they are concerned the Minneapolis 2040 plan could cause problems with traffic, flooding, contaminated water and air pollution. Rebecca Arons, of Smart Growth, said, "It doesn't mean that we don't believe in development, we believe in smart development."
               
Perry added, "Any environmental issue can be addressed if you have enough advanced warning on it."

When they filed for the temporary restraining order on Monday, Segal said she was surprised.

“It’s a vision, it's a roadmap,” she said. “It doesn't actually result in any particular development being approved, any variances being granted or any changes to our zoning plan.”

The city is required by state law to review its comprehensive plan every 10 years. The City Council also faces a Dec. 31 deadline to submit the plan to the Met Council for review.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS also spoke with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey early Thursday, before the Judge announced his decision, to get his perspective on the back-and-forth.

"The Mayor’s Office and the City Council have been working vigorously on this particular topic," he said. "There's been quite a bit of compromise in setting the longer term version for the city and I think we can ultimately get there."

The environmental groups and their attorneys said these are new legal issues regarding the 2040 plan, which is being described as the biggest undertaking of comprehensive rezoning of this kind in the country.

 

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