Construction to commence before Nov. 13 court date
The city of Forest Lake on Monday afternoon will break ground at a ceremony for its public safety and city hall project.
Meanwhile, the city and its opponents in a lawsuit regarding the project are preparing for an appearance in the Court of Appeals that on Tuesday was set for Wednesday, Nov. 13.
In 10th Judicial District Court, the city and its Economic Development Authority on March 21 were granted summary judgment in a case brought by plaintiffs who alleged the defendants circumvented state law in an effort to avoid a referendum on the issuance of more than $22 million in bonds to fund the construction of the Forest Lake City Center.
In his ruling, Judge John C. Hoffman also described the case as “ripe for appellate review,” and the plaintiffs – Cameron and Cassandra Piper, William Anderson and the Lakes Area Business Association – in April filed an appeal.
The appellants also requested accelerated review of their appeal by the Minnesota Supreme Court. The Supreme Court on May 29 denied that petition.
The parties since have filed a series of briefs. The appellants outlined their case in a brief filed June 24. The respondents outlined their case and responded to the appellants’ in a July 31 filing. On Aug. 23, the appellants filed their reply.
Next up is the Nov. 13 oral arguement, which is scheduled for 10:05 a.m. at the Minnesota Judicial Center in St. Paul. Judges John R. Rodenberg, Margaret H. Chutich and Michelle A. Larkin will hear the case. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, the appellant and respondent will each be allotted 15 minutes to present arguments, followed by a five-minute appellant rebuttal.
Cameron Piper said the looming start of construction on the City Center will not deter his group. Rather, he said, it is those on the opposite side of the courtroom who are taking a risk.
“It is pretty cavalier that they are moving ahead and spending money that isn’t theirs,” he said. “That comes from bondholders, and that’s who are ultimately going to take a bath on this thing if it goes south.
“Our stance has not changed, and it will not change.”
A groundbreaking ceremony for the Forest Lake City Center will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 30, at the site of the project, 1432 S. Lake St., formerly home to the Northland Mall. The event is open to the public.