A Hennepin County judge has denied a request for a restraining order to stop permits from being issued in the subdivision of the late Doug Dayton’s land in Orono.
The denial Wednesday night means the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and Orono City Council could move forward with approvals. The Watershed District’s public hearing is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 22; the City Council has regular meetings Oct. 12 and Oct. 26.
The Watershed District, city, developer George Stickney and BPS Properties were sued Wednesday by 13 neighbors of the 94-acre estate to try to stop an 11-home subdivision. They argue that it violates the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act because it would cause “significant environmental degradation and destroy natural ecosystems” of the Big Woods forest. Plaintiffs are Anne Healy, Audra Nestler Holm, Eric Lundeen, Karen Lundeen, Jeff Mendeloff, Jennifer Mendeloff, Marilyn Miller, Joyce Pokorny, Karl Pokorny, Karen Reed, Mark Reed, Rebecca Ribich and Tobias Shapiro.
The city approved preliminary plans in July and the property sold Sept. 18 for $5.3 million cash, according to public records, bought by BPS Properties LLC from Wendy Dayton, his widow. The Mooney Lake Preserve would have an average lot of 3.18 acres; more than half of the property’s 94 acres will remain natural.
Doug Dayton, uncle of Gov. Mark Dayton, was credited with launching Target. He bought the land, restoring fields and trails in the forest.
“It’s just a shame to see how it’s turning out,” his son, Bruce Dayton, said Thursday, adding that his father had wanted only two other homes on the land. “The 40 years of work he did establishing the prairie is going to be heavily damaged. … It was supposed to be his legacy.”