The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 2, 2014

Clean slate sought for Marigold site

Developer asks N. Mankato to remove recent variances

NORTH MANKATO — The developer behind the Marigold apartment project has asked the city of North Mankato to withdraw the five variances it approved almost a year ago.

The move effectively invalidates the current proposal, though the request may have more to do with a lawsuit concerning the variances.

The city has not issued a building permit for the site, and would not issue one while the lawsuit was being litigated, City Planner Mike Fischer said. The land is still owned by the North Mankato Port Authority, the city’s economic development arm.

The practical effect of the variance withdrawal, if it is approved Monday, is unclear.

Barb Church, who is suing the city and Vanyo Moody over the variances, said Friday that she was declining comment on the move until after the meeting, on the advice of her attorney.

Moody did not return calls seeking comment.

An April 21 court hearing has been scheduled in the case.

Fischer said the effect of the removal of the variances will be a clean slate for the site, and both the City Council and Port Authority are being asked to approve the request.

“We wouldn’t be bringing it forward to the council if we didn’t think it would clear the path for a development on the site,” Fischer said.

That new development might look quite a bit like the old one. In January, the city approved a new set of zoning changes that will allow for higher-density housing in the downtown. Part of the motivation for the changes was to allow for an apartment complex without the variances required under the old rules.

“We continue to have discussions with Mr. Moody regarding developing (the Marigold site),” Fischer said.

The Port Authority meeting starts at 6 p.m. and the City Council meets at 7 p.m., both at the Municipal Building, at 1001 Belgrade Avenue. Because the Port Authority is comprised of all five council members, it has started meeting in the evening instead of the morning.

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