(Writ of Mandamus)
We want to share an important action that Neighbors for a Livable Saint Paul (NLSP) has just taken and ask for your support.
On Tuesday, October 27, NLSP filed suit in Ramsey County District Court against the City of Saint Paul compelling the city to enforce it own zoning laws that govern the development of Highland Bridge (formerly Ford site).
Since the Ford Master Plan was approved in 2017, NLSP has continued to monitor the project to ensure that the new building construction is consistent with the original principles of that plan. As Ryan Companies works with the city on the permitting and variance process for the first few buildings, it has become apparent that the principles of the Master Plan are merely a pretext to create unwritten rules to work around inconvenient zoning laws, and to inflate the scale of the already out-of-scale plan.
The Master Plan requires that each building type include a percentage of “open space”(typically a minimum of 25%) that is distinct from the percentage of the lot covered by the building footprint. This is presumably intended to improve the aesthetics of the development and prevent and urban-canyon-like feel.
For the very first building in the development, the City determined that Ryan would not need a variance to count private rooftop decks and apartment balconies as “open space”which is clearly in conflict with the original intent of the plan and the common sense understanding of the term open space. This is unacceptable and sets a troubling precedent for the rest of the project.
Given the concerning lack of checks and balances in Saint Paul city governance, NLSP cannot stand by and watch the city break its own zoning rules.
Therefore, NLSP has petitioned Ramsey County District Court to declare that the city must grant Ryan a variance if they intend to deviate from the Master Plan. NLSP remains committed to promoting responsible community development that enhances the existing neighborhood and the City overall.
But we need your financial support to ensure that we have the resources to help fund this effort, the pending petition, and future legal action.Please make a contribution to support NLSP’s Legal Action Fund by clicking here.
Thank you for your support!
Support or get more information:
Highland neighbors group pleads with mayor and Saint Paul City Council to reconsider density at Ford site
Citing societal shift and a growing body of knowledge about
Covid-19, the site’s neighbors are calling for a Ford plan redesign
St. Paul, Minn. – With the City of Saint Paul and Ryan Companies poised for a groundbreaking ceremony at the Ford site, Neighbors for a Livable Saint Paul (NLSP) is urging the city to put down the shovels and reconsider.
In an open letter to the city’s mayor and city council, NLSP argues that the pandemic, civic unrest, and calls for re-imagining social structures demand a different approach at the site.
The pandemic is forcing cities everywhere to re-think their policies of forcing people into hyper-dense apartment clusters, notes the letter. It points out that the city’s Ford plan, developed five years ago, is predicated on perpetuation of the status quo and unjust socio-economic systems that cry out for reform.
“Things have changed,” the letter observes, and as a result the Ford Plan is outdated and unsuited to today’s realities.
If you'd like to listen to a great discussion about how to make Cities Healthy again, give a listen to the NPR blog, subtitled Cities that Heal. Click here (42 mins.)
Construction has begun at the site. The first requests for variances from the original agreement are in, and not surprisingly they urge the City to give them permission to go HIGHER, and put in more buidling while removing open space.
Click on the pdf below to view plans for the building to be constructed at address.
Ford Master Plan media coverage
The City's Planning Commission public hearing (January 25, 2019).
Here is the PowerPoint presentation of Ford issues to date.
Complete copy of public responses to the Ryan plan effective Jan. 28, 2019
Click here for the entire presentation of the Ford design (10/10) Many of the slides in this presentation are from prior meetings. New slides start at #61. For Video, click here.
Higland District Council Neighbor Survey: People of Highland Park describe what they want their village to be in the future. click here