Rice Creek Commons Dispute Heads to Mediation
Tuesday, September, 17, 2019
The City of Arden Hills and Ramsey County began mediation the end of August to settle the dispute over the Rice Creek Commons development.
The dispute began in May when the county sued the city. According to the lawsuit, Arden Hills violated the terms of a joint development agreement when it did not make a good faith effort to resolve the ongoing dispute between the two parties regarding the development site.
Included in the dispute are issues over proposed density, the amount of affordable housing and the city’s financial contributions to the development. The county and the city had agreed to a master plan in 2016, but the county renewed its efforts for greater density and affordability at the site last fall. The city was formerly the site of the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant. This resulted in a stalemate between the sides and the county is not even attending the majority of joint development authority meetings held in the interim.
Arden Hills refused a previous request for mediation.
The county owns the land in question, but the two parties have worked together to plan for the mixed-use development. If the county wins its lawsuit, the city would take the role of a reviewing authority and no longer have its current role in the planning process.
The master plan that was devised in 2016 includes 1460 units with 10 percent affordable income housing and 80 percent median income housing. A study showed the site could support up to 2500 residential units.
A Ramsey County District Court judge has ordered the city and county to begin mediation, but no future hearings are scheduled at this time.