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ROCHESTER – Rochester Township Council has delayed its decision on whether to accept a preliminary flat proposal for development on the site of a great blue heron nesting colony.

By then, an Olmsted County District Court judge could render his decision moot.

International Properties LLC is offering a 10-home development on approximately 30 acres of land south of Cascade Creek north of Boulder Creek Lane Southwest.

This land was home to part of a colony of dozens of great blue heron nests known as the rookery.

Environmental groups and neighboring property owners oppose the plan.

Attorney Dan Heuel, right, reacts, and Bill Tointon, of WSB Engineering Services, Ltd., takes notes as Rochester Township Council votes Thursday, July 14, 2022 to delay a decision on whether to approve a preliminary platform for development at the Great Blue Heron nesting colony site southwest of Rochester. Heuel represents the developers, International Properties LLC, and Tointon is working with them to design it.

John Molseed / Post Bulletin

The township’s planning and zoning commission voted 2-1 last month to recommend denying the preliminary flat plan as written.

Township council members voted Thursday to address the issue at their regular Aug. 11 meeting. Their decision comes a day before arguments in a lawsuit filed against the township council in December 2021 over its decision to approve the general development plan for the land will be in the hands of Judge Pamela King.

King has 90 days to enter summary judgment after oral and written arguments are filed on Friday, July 15, 2022. If King finds the county acted improperly, whatever the township council decides would be moot, Nathan said. Clarke, member of the township council.

Dan Heuel, an attorney representing International Properties LLC, told the board that the development plan was in order and called the decision to delay the decision based on the possibility of King making a decision before this “pure speculation.” “.

Township solicitor Peter Tiede told council members they had discretion and that the trial and the preliminary plan submitted to council were nominally separate matters.

The judge was unlikely to issue a decision on the day of oral argument or even next week given the high-profile nature of the case, Tiede added.

Board member Brian Zmolek said while the decision had the potential to alter what the board approves, caution would be to wait.

However, Zmolek also said development plans are a good way to control land use. If the landowners decided to build a less dense development, the township would have less say in how the houses and the driveways that serve them would be built.

“We have to be thoughtful in managing the resources we have here,” he said. “One of the best tools in our toolbox is managing this development.”

The lawsuit was one of three filed in response to the development plan. A case, filed with the Minnesota Court of Appeals in October of last year, found that the township broke no law in deciding that a less thorough environmental assessment worksheet was adequate for the project. This decision was made last month.

Another lawsuit filed by neighboring landowners last year under Minnesota’s Environmental Resources Act is still pending.

“It’s all complicated by all the other litigation,” Heuel said.