Mediation Bid Fails; Votes on TCGIS, St. Andrew's Now Rest with City Council
Saturday, June 1, 2019 8:50 AM

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The City Council could take the decisive votes this Wednesday, June 5, on the future of Twin Cities German Immersion School's construction plans and the former St. Andrew's church building.

Meanwhile, the preservation group Save Historic St. Andrew's has filed papers in Ramsey County District Court seeking a restraining order and injunction to prevent the school from demolishing the former church.

Participants Can't Agree
A last-ditch attempt to seek common ground on issues that have divided much of the community for more than a year failed this past week. The city hired mediator Aimee Gourlay; she interviewed members of school leadership (who object to historic designation for the former church without the school's consent), the preservation group (which filed the independent application for historic designation), the Como Community Council, and others to determine if there was potential for a negotiated agreement that would save the building and still allow the school to add space to meet its growing enrollment.

Gourlay concludes that “there is insufficient time to address issues productively” and “There is little likelihood of a useful mediation at this point. A failed conflict intervention could make things worse and could reduce the potential for successful conflict resolution in the future.” (You can read her full report in the PDF in the right column.) Among Gourlay's key findings:

  • "The starting places for TCGIS, SHSA are very different, and firmly held. TCGIS is open to working with SHSA to address concerns and build understanding with the starting place being their current site plan, which presumes demolition of the structure. SHSA is open to working with TCGIS to explore possibilities with the starting place being a collaborative discussion about how to meet both of their needs, which presumes preservation of the structure."
  • While participants are willing to participate in a process, they are not willing to participate in the same process.

Council Takes Multiple Votes Wednesday
Therefore, on Wednesday, during their 3:30 session, City Council members are scheduled to vote on whether or not to grant local historic status to the former church building. Following that, during their 5:30 session, council members hold public hearings on appeals related to the variances and construction site plan the school needs for its proposed building expansion. The City Council meets on the third floor of City Hall, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd. Meetings are open to the public.

  • One appeal, filed by resident Kevin Anderson on behalf of Save Historic St. Andrew's, claims the city's Planning Commission failed to either approve or deny the school's site plan. As a result, state law would allow a site plan to take effect that is not consistent with the city's Comprehensive Plan, Anderson argues.
  • A second appeal by Anderson says the school's variance requests fail to meet five of the six standards spelled out in state statute.
  • An appeal by the District 10 Como Community Council argues that the Planning Commission abdicated its responsibility and would allow a site plan to take effect that does not comply with city zoning requirements.
     

Originally published June 3, 2019; updated June 4.

District 10 Como Community Council | 1224 Lexington Pkwy N, Saint Paul, MN 55103 | 651.644.3889 | district10 [at] district10comopark.org

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