The Stillwater Area School District may soon be unable to use its bus terminal in Lake Elmo.
The Lake Elmo city council voted 4-1 April 21 to direct city staff to draft a resolution that will revoke the district’s conditional use permit for its bus facility located at 11530 Hudson Blvd. N. in Lake Elmo. The council will vote on the resolution during its May 5 meeting.
The bus terminal is part of the Four Corners 1st Addition plat that was approved by the city council in 2018, which required the developer to build an extension of the city’s water and sewer utilities through the plat in order for the adjacent bus facility to connect. As of the April 21 meeting, construction has not yet commenced. The district has made all of the improvements on the property that were required by the CUP conditions with the exception of connecting the property to sanitary sewer and water services. The city also said the district has not completed some required permits for the property and has been occupying the property without completing the requirements.
While the city had several other ongoing issues related to the property, the city’s special attorney, Jared Sheppard, asked the council to focus on the task before them.
“The sole issue is whether the school district violated the conditions of its conditional use permit,” Sheppard said. “Compliance is the responsibility of the school district, not the developer.”
In November 2019, the district applied for an amendment to their CUP to extend the date by which the facility had to be connected to water and sewer until December 31, 2020. On Jan. 21, the city council voted to deny the requested CUP amendment and directed staff to begin the revocation process for the CUP. On March 12, the school district made the application for a second amendment to the CUP as an alternative way for the district to continue to use the property until public utilities are available. In a 6-1 vote April 13, the planning commission agreed with the Stillwater Area School District to allow for another amendment to its conditional use permit (CUP) that would allow the district to build a septic system at its bus terminal. Currently, the property has a septic system that is too small for its current use and is unable to connect to the city’s public utilities. The council will consider the new CUP amendment application at its meeting on May 5.
Korine Land, the attorney representing the school district, asked the council to delay voting on the CUP revocation until after the council has made a decision on the amendment.
Land, who specialized in land use law, told the council that she first was contacted by the school district in 2019.
“I never could have envisioned that in 6 months we would end up here with a revocation,” Land said.
Land argued that revoking the CUP on the condition of connecting to city sewer and water utilities was unreasonable as it is not the school district’s responsibility in the CUP to construct the utility extensions through the entire plat. The responsibility for the utility connection is between the city and the developer through the developer’s agreement, Land argued. By requiring the district to connect to a pubic service that does not exist, Land argued that the city would render the property of its economic value if the district can’t use the property until it connects to public services.
The school district has filed a lawsuit in Washington County district court March 31 under its purchase agreement from the developer, EN Properties, LLC and E& E Properties, LLC, and is specifically seeking injunctive relief to require the developer to furnish water and sewer to the property.
The Lake Elmo city council will vote on the resolution to revoke the CUP during tis May 5 meeting. The council will also hear the district proposed amendment to the CUP during the May 5 meeting.
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