Mendota Heights Council Rejects Assisted Living Project for Mendota Plaza
The proposal can be resubmitted in three months.
The White Pine Assisted Living proposal for Mendota Plaza was denied Tuesday night by the Mendota Heights City Council.
The applicants may resubmit the plan in three months.
The proposal to build 100 units of memory care and assisted living diverts from Mendota Plaza’s developer's agreement on a number of points, according to city staff, and documents to support a request for transfer of the property have not been provided by White Pine.
Mendota Plaza developer Ken Henk of Paster Enterprises spoke to the council, requesting that they follow the staff’s recommendation to send the proposal back to the planning commission.
“I really feel there’s a lot of discussion that needs to take place,” said Henk.
Paster Enterprises owns the property, but would sell the land to White Pine to develop the project.
Council members were unsympathetic with Henk’s request to keep the plan in motion.
“I feel like we’re jumping through all kinds of hoops. …” said council member Jack Vitelli. “I can’t follow all this, frankly. I think that the clock should start again, and this should be done correctly, no excuses.”
The planning commission heard Henk address the points of concern at their meeting last week, which Henk said he had expected to be a discussion-only meeting.
However, a 120-day review deadline for the city was set to expire Sept. 6, the date of the next council meeting, and an official document requesting an extension on the part of the applicant was not available at the commission meeting. The planning commission took action on the plan with a recommendation for denial to get the plan before the council on time.
The city received the extension request shortly after, which extended the city’s window of review to Nov. 15.
The president of White Pine Assisted Living, Chuck Rothstein, is on a fishing trip in Canada without reliable communication, said Henk, and may not know that the plan had been voted on last week.
The council’s rejection of the proposal provides a “clean slate,” said Mayor Sandra Krebsbach. She was the lone vote against the motion, however, saying that she would have preferred a shorter waiting period before the plan could be resubmitted.
Council member Ultan Duggan said that the absence of Rothstein, and what he perceived as a lack of familiarity with the Plaza's developer's agreement, felt like “a slap in the face to the city.”
“This is, in my opinion, one of the most mismanaged applications in my 10 years on the council, and we’ve got to send a message that we don’t accept this stuff,” said Vitelli.