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City council to reconsider Commerce Hill development

The east side of Woodbury may get its Super Target after all.

On Wednesday, Sept. 24 the Woodbury City Council voted to reconsider the proposed Commerce Hill development. The council denied the nearly 40-acre retail/office project in June after the developers and city staff could not resolve outstanding issues involving gaining proper assurances that Woodbury Developers LLC would agree to pay improvements for storm water and traffic around the site planned to be located to be north of Tamarack Road, south of Commerce Drive and west of Woodbury Drive.

The council's June 11 decision to deny the project also came with a condition that if those outstanding issues could be resolved the city may vote to reconsider the project.

Since the council's June denial, Woodbury Developers LLC legal counsel had, according to city sources threatened litigation against the city. The city, in turn, approved a findings of fact for its denial of the project, but the city's legal representation met twice in the last two months with Woodbury Developers LLC attorney in closed mediation sessions.

The result of those mediation sessions was the council's 5-0 on Sept. 24 to reconsider the development.

Woodbury city attorney Mark Vierling said the city's handful of closed meetings regarding the matter allowed for legal counsel to update council on the situation, which appears close to resolution.

"We believe we have the framework of an agreement that resolves the issues that were outstanding between developers and the city staff," Vierling said at the Sept. 24 council meeting, "but we need more time to memorialize that into a development agreement."

For that reason, the council also voted to table any action on the Commerce Hill development application until its Oct. 8 meeting. The two-week period will allow city staff to work out final details with the developer and to hold a neighborhood meeting for residents near the proposed project.

The neighborhood meeting has been scheduled for Oct. 7 at Woodbury City Hall.

Woodbury Mayor Bill Hargis said the council also needs time to look over an agreement, which the Oct. 8 date will give them time to do so.

"I think if we go through with the (Oct. 8) timeline that helps the city staff and the developers and that's good for the public process," Hargis said.

The Commerce Hill project has been in the works since 2006, when the JMW Group, which owns the land for the project, came to the city to ask to rezone the property from "places to work" to "places to shop."

The city's commercial comprehensive plan task force recommended the request be approved and the city council approved the property to be rezoned to include 70 percent as places to shop and 30 percent as places to work.

The project plans include a Super Target as well as a bank, office buildings and restaurants.

The city performed an environmental assessment of the site earlier this year, which included an analysis of storm water, parking and traffic issues that became contentious between city planners and the development group.