The Plymouth City Council has authorized the submission of grant applications for $1.4 million in environmental cleanup funds for the Dundee Nursery site along Highway 55.
On a 4-3 vote April 27, the council adopted resolutions in support of Commercial Investment Properties’ applications for $800,000 from the Minnesota Department of Employee and Economic Development, $456,385 from the Metropolitan Council and $150,000 from Hennepin County.
Voting for the resolution were Mayor Jeff Wosje and Councilmembers Ned Carroll, Alise McGregor and James Prom. Voting against were Councilmembers Jim Davis, Nick Roehl and Jim Willis.
The council conducted a pre-application sketch review for the development in 2019. The anticipated project includes a four-story apartment building and a three-story medical office building, plus the reconfiguration of the Plymouth Presbyterian Church Property.
The environmental assessment worksheet for the site is expected to come before the council Tuesday, May 11. The council has yet to consider the comprehensive plan amendment, rezoning, site plats and preliminary plat request that would all be required for approval of the development.
Steve Juetten, community development director, noted that the environmental issues identified will require excavation, soil handling, segregation, treatment and haul-off and replacement of contaminated soils, and remediation of buried onsite debris.
Willis, who led the opposition to the city’s support of the grant applications, noted that whatever is spent to remediate the site should be deducted from what the developer pays the seller for the property.
“If we approve this, we are giving the private sector a gift,” Willis said, stressing that the grant would amount to the privatization of the profit and socialization of the public costs.
Mark Jepson, principal for the developer, told the council that the grant applications are for significant funds because the site is being remediated to residential-use standards. The site had previously been remediated to industrial-use standards under state and federal guidelines, he stressed.
Wosje noted to the council that the grant applications for cleanup funds are how the process works, even though they may disagree with that system.
Prom told the council that the city should be consistent about how it handles support for grant applications, and shouldn’t have city EDA officials giving information about grant opportunities if the council isn’t going to support those applications.
“This council better be very careful about picking and choosing which ones of these grants they want and why,” he said, noting the applications are set up to require city approval.
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