Fight over nearly $6 million in sewer fees could derail Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant redevelopment

September 5, 2018

A fight over nearly $6 million in sewer connection fees may delay or entirely derail plans to redevelop the site of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant.

In front of a standing-room-only crowd Tuesday night, Arden Hills City Council members dug in on their demand that they are paid $5.8 million in sewer connection fees for the project, which would be the largest redevelopment effort the metro area has seen in years.

The 427-acre site is owned by Ramsey County, which spent more than $90 million tearing down abandoned buildings on the sprawling complex and cleaning soil and groundwater contamination in what had been the states largest Superfund. It plans to sell the land in five phases to developer Alatus Arden Hills LLC, which will essentially build a village from scratch that includes 1,460 homes and apartments, supports at least 4,000 jobs and generates about $8.6 million in property taxes a year.

Several contract issues, including a timeline for development, the amount of affordable housing and the final purchase price for the land, still need to be ironed out between the county, the city and the developer. But the main issue holding up a deal is how much the city will be able to charge for sewer connections.

Because the site was already developed, the Metropolitan Council will not charge $5.8 million in one-time sewer connection fees, saying the site has already created enough credits from the time it was owned by the U.S. Army. The city would like to charge those fees anyway, saying it owns the credits on that site.

These credits are a city asset, said Mayor David Grant. By removing them, it will reduce the cost to buy the land for the developer, which will allow the county to charge a better price. So the county is essentially taking this asset from the city and using it for the county.

County officials argue the credits dont belong to the city, but are instead tied directly to the site.

Louis Jambois, the countys lead negotiator on the project, said that the developer has made it clear that the deal will not go forward if it is charged the $5.8 million.

Its a big deal, he said. Projects can rise and fall, sink or swim, on that amount of money.

Five members of the City Council said Tuesday they have every intention of charging the fees.

The county will continue negotiating with the city and developer, to see if one side will bend or whether the county, itself, will step in to pay the fees before a proposed contract is brought forward in October.

Greg Stanley 612-673-4882

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