Civic beat: Judge dismisses complaint against Northeast waste facility

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January 16, 2012
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter
Hennepin County Judge Bruce Peterson on Jan. 5 dismissed a complaint filed by a group of residents fighting a proposed waste facility in their Holland neighborhood.

The group, Don’t Dump on Northeast (DDONE), was seeking a court ruling that would make it illegal for the city to operate a waste facility at 340 27th Ave. NE, city-owned property that is zoned for medium industrial.

Peterson ruled that since the city had not yet finalized a proposal for a facility, the complaint was premature and residents would have the chance to weigh in during the city’s permitting process.

DDONE’s attorney, Jim Peters, said the complaint, even though it was dismissed, has changed the city’s approach to the project.

“The neighbors feel like the city has moved its position, and if that’s the net result of this case, I think it’s positive for everybody, particularly the neighborhood,” Peters said.

The city and Hennepin County are trying to build a facility where residents can bring electronics and hazardous wastes, such as paints, oils, aerosol cans, pesticides and other flammable liquids.

The city says only 5 percent of Minneapolis residents are using existing facilities that the county operates in Brooklyn Park and Bloomington. By having a drop-off center in the city, officials hope to prevent hazardous materials from ending up in landfills.

DDONE, however, says such a facility doesn’t belong on a medium industrial — or I-2 — property, rather in heavy industrial area, per city ordinance. Many of their property lines touch the property lines of the site, and they’re concerned about the influx of trucks and traffic.

Further, some of the DDONE member say hazardous wastes should be collected like they are with car batteries — at the place where the materials are purchased.

DDONE is fighting a decision last summer by the city’s zoning administrator, Steve Poor. Poor ruled that the facility was allowed on an I-2 parcel, and the Zoning Board of Appeals upheld his decision.

Their complaint alleges that the city plans to use the site as a waste transfer facility, not a recycling facility, since the materials dropped off will be transferred to other sites for processing.

City Attorney Susan Segal said the city has been consistent that the facility will be a recycling center, which is allowed on an I-2 parcel. The city argued that while some of the materials dropped off at the facility would not be recycled, transferring waste would be an ancillary use.

The complaint also alleges that the city has spent more than $2 million on acquiring the site and studying it.

In the city’s motion to dismiss the case, officials acknowledges that that waste transfer or disposal facility is prohibited on an I-2 parcel.

Peters says the DDONE group will keep a close eye on the projects permitting process to make sure the city stands by its claim that I-2 property does not become a waste transfer facility.

“That’s why you may hear about this again,” Peters said. “Was the city conclusively taking that position, or were they just saying that to get around these court proceedings? Time will tell.”


Dziedzic cruises to easy victory in Senate District 59


Kari Dziedzic easily won a special election on Jan. 10 to become the next state senator to represent Northeast and parts of Southeast Minneapolis.

Dziedzic (DFL) took 79 percent of the vote while Republican Ben Schwanke collected 19 percent.

In total, only 4,273 votes were cast on an unseasonably warm January day. That’s less than 10 percent of the 45,000 registered voters in Senate District 59.

Dziedzic, who takes over for long-time senator Larry Pogemiller, will join the Legislature for the 2012 session, which begins Jan. 24.

Reach Nick Halter at nhalter@mnpubs.com.