A plan to move forward with a major redevelopment of Minneapolis' Upper Harbor Terminal, a 48-acre site formerly home to a barge terminal, has been postponed after environmentalists raised concerns about its effect on the Mississippi River.

Community Members for Environmental Justice (CMEJ) and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) sent a letter to the City Council earlier this month demanding an environmental review before any action on the plan. City leaders announced at a planning committee meeting Wednesday evening that the City Council will not vote on the project in February, as originally planned, to allow an environmental review, a decision made on the advice of city attorneys and environmental advocates. The purpose of the review, city leaders said, will be to "disclose the potential environmental impacts of the development project and identify ways to avoid or minimize those impacts."

Instead, city staff will provide an update on the planning process to the City Council in mid-February to share information about how the project will address community concerns.

"We have to learn [from the environmental review], which we were always intending to do, and then make some decisions about the calendaring of decisions," said Erik Hansen, director of economic policy and development for the city.

Roxxanne O'Brien, an organizer for CMEJ, hailed the delay, saying in a prepared statement, "It is good to see the City of Minneapolis following bedrock environmental laws by not proceeding with the vote until environmental review is completed, but there are still serious concerns about how the current proposal will change our community.

"The City needs to take seriously concerned community voices to make sure Upper Harbor Terminal does not become a repeat of the history of environmental and economic pain in the North Side," she said.

Faiza Mahamud • 612-673-4203