Controversy in Kasson Takes Unexpected Turn

Posted at: 10/14/2013 11:02 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- Last week ABC 6 broke the story about a group of Kasson residents upset about a the possibility of a large retail development moving into a city park which they say will hurt local businesses and devalue surrounding homes.

A public meeting on the development last Monday turned hostile, with some residents so aggravated they began yelling and swearing at city officials.

On Monday night, many of those same residents packed a meeting of the city's Planning and Zoning Commission, ready to speak out against the proposed project once again.

But as soon as the meeting began, officials told the crowd they would not be discussing the project, nor would they take public comment.

“If you're here thinking we're going to be discussing Lion's Park, I'm sorry we're not, we can't,” said Matt Nelson, chair of the commission.

City leaders said because the item was never on the meeting's official agenda, they weren't permitted to talk about it.

But residents point to a memo attached to the agenda that said there would be an update on the project, and argued their voices should have been heard.

“I think they didn't talk about it because that whole room was full of southwest neighborhood people against the retail development in the park,” said Jaime Finne, who lives next to the park and strongly opposes the development.

But despite the setback, residents said they've lost none of their determination to put an end to the proposed project.

“It got their attention that we're paying attention. We're concerned, so the message is still there,” said Mark Anderson, a Kasson resident. “We just have to stay with it and can't give up."

City officials said they will be open to more discussion about the proposed project once the developer comes forward with more concrete plans.