Rice Creek Commons dispute moves to mediation.


Byline: Brian Johnson

Ramsey County is looking for third-party help to resolve long-simmering differences with the city of Arden Hills over the planned redevelopment of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site in Arden Hills.

The redevelopment, known as Rice Creek Commons, could bring nearly 1,500 housing units, 1 million square feet of commercial space and other uses to 427 acres of the former Superfund site. The site is in the northeast quadrant of Interstate 35W and Highway 96.

Even so, the city and county have been at loggerheads over a master redevelopment plan for the site. Sticking points range from the city's proposed investment to how much affordable housing should be in the plan.

At a Joint Development Authority Board meeting earlier this week, county officials triggered a dispute resolution clause in the Rice Creek Commons joint powers agreement to enter into mediation with the city.

Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega said the county board wants to move forward with mediation because no progress has been on negotiations with the city.

"The county board feels that the best thing to do at this point is put all the issues that are outstanding on the table and mediate them so we can move forward," Ortega said in an interview Friday.

In a brief comment, Arden Hills Mayor David Grant hinted at a breakdown in communication between the two sides.

"The county has requested mediation," Grant said in an interview Friday. "And we don't have any idea as to what they want to mediate because they have not told us."

Cracks in the relationship between the city and the county emerged last fall.

In a Nov. 6 letter to Arden Hills City Administrator Dave Perrault, County Administrator Ryan O'Connor said that negotiations on a master plan had reached an impasse and that the county was redirecting staff members and resources to other projects.

O'Connor told Finance & Commerce last fall that the county was not satisfied with Arden Hills'proposed investment, which he said came to less than $6 million but was later bumped up to $8 million.The county also ispushing the suburb to allow more housing density and more affordable housing for theproject, he said.

In the November 2018 interview, Grantbristledat the insinuation in...

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