The city of Orono and the estate of the late Irwin Jacobs are being sued over a preliminary plan to develop Jacobs 20-acre property in Orono.
The proposed development of the Jacobs property at 1700 Shoreline Dr., which sits between Tanager Lake to the north and Lake Minnetonka’s Smith Bay to the south, would split the property into six developments, which would be sold and developed into new houses.
Jacobs neighbor Barbara Burwell filed the lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court on Wednesday, April 14 against both the city of Orono and the Trustees of the Irwin L. Jacobs 2018 Revocable Trust.
Burwell lives at 1100 and 1125 Millston Road in Orono just west of the proposed development.
The lawsuit contends the approval of the preliminary plan violates several City of Orono ordinances including lakeshore setback rules and could lead to seizure of some Burwell’s property if the city or county would install new turn lanes for the development.
“We were served on that lawsuit and its been referred to the city attorney for action,” Orono’s city administrator Adam Edwards said. “Other then acknowledging that we have it our legal team is putting together our strategy and response.”
Jared Shepherd, the attorney representing the city of Orono in the lawsuit, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Burwell’s attorney could not be reached for comment while Patrick Steinhoff, attorney for the Jacobs estate believes the development will go forward.
“The application submitted by the Jacobs estate conformed to the City’s ordinances, and the City was right to approve it,” Steinhoff said. “ The Jacobs estate expects to prevail in the litigation.”
According to the lawsuit, the Jacobs Trust hired Whitten Associates, Inc, to design a plat that would subdivide the Jacobs Property into multiple lots and submit the plat to the city of Orono for approval.
On July 22, 2020, Whitten submitted a subdivision application to the city which divided the Jacobs property into seven lots.
That plat was brought before the Orono Planning Commission on Aug. 17, 2020 where Burwell expressed concern for plat.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved the plat with conditions recommended by city staff, sending it to the city council for review.
At the Sept. 14, 2020 meeting, the city council tabled the resolution on the plat to allow more time to analyze and understand the concerns brought forth by Burwell and schedule d to reconsider at its Oct. 26, 2020 meeting.
On Oct. 16, 2020, Whitten emailed an alternate, six-lot preliminary plat for the city council to consider if it did not want to approve the seven-lot plat.
The city council voted to table the consideration of the Jacobs Trust’s preliminary plat until Dec. 7, 2020 at the Oct. 26 meeting.
At the Dec. 7 meeting, council sent the plat back to the Planning Commission for a hearing. On Jan. 19. 2021, the Planning Commission voted 6-1 to approve the second preliminary plat, subject to conditions. On Feb. 22, 2021, the city council approved the second preliminary plat.
The city of Orono and the estate have 21 days to respond to the lawsuit. After that the court will schedule a hearing.
Irwin Jacobs, died at the age of 77, was a best known for owning Genmar Holdings, at the time the No. 2 maker of boats in the world and minority owner of the Minnesota Vikings, fatally shot his wife and then himself in April 2019.