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Developer files lawsuit to allow 2016 plans to continue in Northwest Rochester

Hunter Valley Estates development is planned for near the intersection of 55th Street Northwest and 18th Avenue, but permissions have expired twice due to two-year time limits.

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ROCHESTER — A Rochester developer wants a judge to order the city to sign a development agreement and renew permissions to develop approximately 59 acres in Northwest Rochester.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of Javon and Vita Bea is seeking to renew approvals related to the proposed Hunter Valley Estates development, which was originally proposed to include housing and potential commercial development near the intersection of 55th Street Northwest and 18th Avenue.

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“The Beas have already lost at least three opportunities for development of Hunter Valley Estates, one of these was a major development for hundreds of low-income housing units,” attorney Gary Van Cleve of the Minneapolis-based Larkin Hoffman Daly and Lindgren Ltd. law firm wrote. “The other two were commercial opportunities.”

The Rochester City Council approved a general development plan and preliminary plat for the proposed development site in 2016, but both approvals came with a two-year expiration date.

When approvals expired in 2016, they were renewed for two more years, but Javon Bea was told in 2020 that he’d need to submit a new application for a further extension.

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Bea’s lawsuit claims the city’s expectations for the required development agreement, along with street redesign along 18th Avenue Northwest, contributed to delays, but the agreement is ready to sign with one added tweak.

The lawsuit claims the Beas should be allowed to extend the 2016 permissions without restarting the review process.

The city, in its response to the lawsuit, denies the 18th Avenue project interfered with potential development, but it does cite prolonged discussions related to the development agreement, which it partly contributes to Bea’s misunderstanding of stormwater regulations.

The proposed agreement reportedly included a requirement for a stormwater pond at the estimated cost of $660,000 and a $400,000 stormwater-related payment to the city, along with specifications related to trails and other infrastructure.

“Ultimately the concessions made by the city to the plaintiffs disproportionately benefited the plaintiffs and provided them with benefits which the city code does not entitle similarly situated developments to receive,” wrote attorney John Baker of the Minneapolis-based Greene Espel law firm, which is representing the city in the case.

The case is pending in the Third Judicial District Court with a hearing date yet to be set.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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