It was approved recently, after having been on hold by Coyle’s clients until anther Plymouth redevelopment project, Hollydale, got the go-ahead from the city. It did, although some neighbors clearly are unhappy, said Coyle, a partner at Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindren.
Hollydale is the construction of housing on what was once a golf course. Neighbors wanted to keep the green space, but the city did not buy the property. Instead, it approved a development plan.
Parkera will be a mixed-use development on the former site of Dundee Nursery, at Rockford Road. The plan includes 210 multifamily units, a Twin Cities Orthopedics medical office building and a 2-acre park, dedicated to the city and full of trees. Of course there were concerns about density and traffic.
Concern about having an open space is the issue of opponents of development in nine out of 10 conflicts, Coyle said. “People want to protect their view even if it’s someone else’s property.” This illustrates Peter Coyle’s law practice. While there are legitimate public policy concerns over use of land, “there are rules and we’re darn well going to enforce them,” he said.
Another illustration is drawn in Harstad v. City of Woodbury, where Larkin Hoffman represented the developer when the city demanded a roughly $1.3 million, or about $20,000 per acre, infrastructure fee for roadway maintenance (over and above normal street assessments). Three courts—including the Minnesota Supreme Court—nixed the plan.
The case shows why housing is expensive, Coyle said. “Our regulatory posture is through the roof. The reason is fees.”
Coyle and others have tried for two years to get a statute passed that would codify Harstad, but the Legislature doesn’t have the political will, he said. “They don’t like picking fights with cities.”
“The frustrating part for me is that it is difficult to find places to build; too often there are lawsuits, and nobody wins. It’s really hard and disappointing,” he said.
It is also hard to build affordable housing, especially in St. Paul, where a recently enacted rent-increase cap of 3 percent annually has limited the landlords’ abilities to pay costs, taxes and mortgages, although new construction currently is not included. “No lender in their right mind would take that on,” Coyle said. “We need both cities to be healthy.”