NEW SWLRT LAWSUIT: Minnetonka Residents, Apartment Complex Owners Sue Over Southwest Light Rail

The following article by Jim Hammerand was published in the March 31, 2015 issue of The
Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal.

NEW SWLRT LAWSUIT: Minnetonka Residents, Apartment Complex Owners Sue Over Southwest Light Rail

light rail metro transit

Enlarge Photo

The Southwest light rail will be the third such Metro Transit route. PIctured is the network’s Blue Line, connecting Minneapolis to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the Mall of America.

Minnetonka Residents filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday in an effort to keep the Southwest light rail transit project from destroying a wooded public park and trail.

In their lawsuit, the Opus Woods Conservation Association and the owners of the 330-unit Claremont Apartments said the Metropolitan Council did not adequately consider the rail route’s impact on the 49-acre Opus Hill area.


The Metropolitan Council was reviewing the complaint Tuesday afternoon, a spokesperson said.
Located at at 10761 Smetana Road, Claremont Apartments has about 540 residents in and is located within 100 feet of the proposed line, according to a news release from Minneapolis law firm Larkin Hoffman.
The lawsuit says federal regulations prohibit putting transportation projects through public parks, recreational areas and other sensitive sites unless there’s no feasible alternative, and that transit planners failed to consider other options. It asks a judge to delay the project in order to seek a solution.
The residents and the apartment owner, Omaha-based SFI Ltd. Partnership 54, are represented by Larkin Hoffman lawyers Gary Van Cleve and Rob Stefonowicz.
The land includes city-owned property that was previously owned by the Opus Group to be used as parkland and open space.
The 16-mile light rail line is planned to run from Eden Prairie to downtown Minneapolis, and would be the third such route, following the Blue Line from Minneapolis to Mall of America and the Green Line between Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Heavy construction is scheduled to start next year. Passenger service is expected to begin in 2019 as an extension of the Green Line.