Despite a last minute attempt by Dr. Kurt Hansen to stall its decision, the Rosemount Port Authority voted 5-2 to use eminent domain to take 14630 South Robert Trail for downtown redevelopment Monday night. Commissioners Bill Droste and Phillip Sterner were the dissenting votes.
Shortly before the meeting began, Hansen had the city clerk distribute a packet asking the port authority to postpone its decision so the two parties could negotiate. An additional e-mail was sent to the port authority late last week .
Although Droste and commission chair Mike Baxter pushed to give Hansen until Sept. 4 to come to a compromise, the other members decided they were done with negotiations and voted 3-4 against a motion to postpone the decision.
"I think we should be the patient ones," Droste pleaded to the other commissioners before his motion was voted down.
Despite Droste's pleas, other members thought the request from Hansen was a ploy that would only result in more wasted time.
"I think we're just procrastinating and beating a dead horse," commissioner Bruce DiNella said.
The city has investigated revitalizing its downtown for years. The current planning started in August of 2003 and involved a citizen-based task force that recommended the redevelopment start on the property that is known as Core Block East. The city tried to buy the property, which is now Ratzlaff 66 Service Station and Budget Truck Rental, but Hansen offered owner Don Ratzlaff more.
While the plans are not settled, Stonebridge Development has propose a three-story, mixed-use building. The proposed building would have commercial units at street level and apartments -- some of them designated workforce housing -- on the upper floors. The city owns or is in negotiations with the other properties that will be necessary for the project.
Frustrated by comments made at two public hearings --held June 19 and July 16 -- and in letters sent by the Save Rosemount Committee, the commissioners could help but respond.
Commissioner Mark DeBettignies said he was tired of Hansen's antics and accused him of trying to profiteer off the residents of Rosemount -- a comment that visibly upset Hansen's two children, who both left the meeting shortly after.
Commissioner Mary Riley echoed DeBettignies sentiments, adding, "to not do anything would be a disservice to our citizens."
Before voting nay dissenting voter Sterner said while moving forward with downtown redevelopment is important, he could not justify the burden on the taxpayers of using eminent domain.
The port authority's attorney will file a condemnation petition with the district court and will arrange for a court hearing. The attorney will also serve notice to Hansen that the city intends to take the property before a court appointed commission renders a final reward, which is know as a "quick take."
During the court hearing Hansen will have the opportunity to challenge the petition. If the court favors the port authority's position then the title will be transferred to the commission in 90 days. The port authority will also pay the landowner the appraised value of the property. Hansen has the right to challenge the appraised amount.
To come up with the fair market value of the property the court will appoint a three person impartial commission. Both sides will testify to the commission and it will inspect the property. The commission will consist of people familiar with property values in Dakota County.
Negotiations can still continue between the port authority and Hansen, however; Hansen indicated in his letter to the city that he would stop any talks if the port authority voted to use eminent domain.