Thursday July 7th 2022

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Seeking Answers & Justice

Minneapolis sued by East Phillips.

Minneapolis Threatens to “unappoint” City Commissions.

 By BRAD PASS, KAREN CLARK, and the Urban Farm Supporters

 Followers of the alley newspaper are aware of the long struggle between the East Phillips Community and the City of Minneapolis over the use of the 7.6-Acre Roof Depot site. 

For Non-Followers, A Review:

In 2014 when EPIC, the East Phillips Improvement Coalition, learned the Roof Depot site was going to be sold, they brought the community together and with the help of a sizable State of Minnesota DEED grant, created the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm project and the East Philips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) a 501(C)(3) to oversee it. The project”™s purpose is to prevent more pollution from traumatizing this already heavily polluted and health affected part of the City by repurposing the 7.6-Acre site and reusing the newly renovated 230,000+ sq. ft. Sears warehouse on the property. 

The Community Plan:

The Community”™s plan includes an indoor urban farm, utilizing hi-tech aquaponics and lower-tech gardening techniques. It will create organic food in a food desert, living wage green jobs, second chance opportunities and job training for local citizens. The project will create a world café, coffee shop & food market with a gallery to display and sell neighborhood artisan”™s works all run by local youth. It will create at least 28 

very affordable family housing units, a bike shop on the Midtown Greenway, one of the largest solar arrays in the state and provide space for many of the burned out Lake St. businesses resulting from the murder of George Floyd. 

Why the Lawsuit? 

When the City of Minneapolis Department of Public Works (P.W.) heard of the community plan, they threatened Eminent Domain and bought the site out from under East Phillips. The City Plan is to demolish the former Sears warehouse, build sheds to store the water yard”™s fire hydrants, manhole covers, sand-salt mix, hot asphalt and sewer pipes. They will move in their fleet of over 400 commercial vehicles, many diesel and build a four story parking ramp to park an additional 400+ employee vehicles and build a huge “SandBox in which to teach the operation of their loaders, graders and other heavy equipment, all adding to the already horrific pollution and congestion in the Phillips and surrounding neighborhoods. 

The City of Minneapolis refused to do an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) on its project and appointed itself as the Responsible Governmental Unit (RGU) overseeing environmental decisions in violation of State rules prohibiting their RGU selection, and 

The City refused to follow the conditions and intent of the Clark – Berglund Cumulative Pollution Law (MN Statute 116.07 subd 4a), and 

The City began inside demolition of the Sears warehouse which is explicitly prohibited by Minn. R. 4410.3100, and 

The city refused to allow the community to present their plan to any meaningful decision making meeting of P.W. or the City Council (until C.M. Jenkins allowed them 20 minutes at the end of a January 2020 meeting after all Council decisions and votes had been taken) in spite of the City”™s “Commitment” to Community Engagement ”“ “Public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process. 

The people of East Phillips believe the city of Minneapolis is in violation of State Laws, Minnesota Regulations, and is ignoring State and Minneapolis Principals and Recommendations in their decisions and treatment of the Roof Depot site. This left EPNI and the people of East Phillips no alternative but to seek legal intervention. 

The Latest from Karen Clark: 

The City is now actively suppressing two city-appointed advisory committees that are writing to the STRIB about their support for the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute”™s community based project and against the city”™s planned project to increase pollution in East Phillips. In response the City is threatening to “unappoint” them: the CEAC (Community Environmental Advisory Commission) and the Southside Green Zone Council.) Meanwhile, because of the city”™s opposition, the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm is missing out on it”™s second (possibly its third) full season of growing food for our neighborhood and creating the jobs to do that! Not to mention the 28-50 low-income affordable housing units that are part of it and the neighborhood businesses that want to relocate into the “saved” warehouse in order to recover from damage or destruction during the uprising. Most are food related–aquaponics or grocers. Interested? 

Note: The City is also being sued on the basis of environmental injustice. East Phillips is the Poster Child of Environmental Injustice! In the words of the people, “We Deserve to Breathe Too”. Watch for court dates and join us. EPNIfarm. org . 

You can Help: 

Write the Mayor. 

Write your City Council member and all the others. Tell them more pollution for East Phillips and surrounding neighborhoods is wrong. Tell them demolishing the newly restored Sears warehouse in this time of need is unconscionable. 

Thank our local State Legislators for their support and request action on the revised Cumulative Pollution legislation. 

Thank CEAC and the SouthSide Green Zone for their incredible support and shame Minneapolis for refusing to take their advice and threatening to dissolve them. 

Go to and donate to support the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm Project and it”™s legal expenses. While you”™re there, sign on to the EPNI email list. 

Please CC or BCC your letters to 

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