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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Monday July 15th 2024

Victory for the East Phillips Urban Farm

Outstanding Leaders Advance Community Vision for Roof Depot & Hiawatha Expansion


In a flurry of last minute negotiations before the end of the state legislative session, community and city leaders, state legislators, and the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) brokered an agreement that will allow the Urban Farm at the Roof Depot site in East Phillips to move forward. The City has agreed to sell the site for an urban farm, in exchange for $4.5 million from the State to build the needed water distribution facility at another location, plus $2 million from the State as a deposit on the sale of the Roof Depot property. EPNI will need to raise an additional $3.7 million for the property purchase by September 8, 2023. Learn more about plans for the East Phillips Urban Farm in future issues of the alley.

A broad coalition of labor, environmental, and Indigenous activists and organizations rallied at the Roof Depot site in East Phillips for the International Workers’ Day March on May 1. Photo: Ben Heath

The month of May saw concerted activity to get the Urban Farm funding across the finish line before the legislative session wrapped up by May 22. At a planning commission meeting city staff brought a zoning change proposal including conditional use permits to limit the Hiawatha Expansion Development. Lively debate and testimony led to a majority vote against the conditional use permit and zoning changes. Three no votes by Koski, Campbell and Olson, were offset by the five yes votes for postponement by Alper, Haxley, Conley, Ford, and Marwa. It’s unusual that staff recommendations were rejected at a planning commission meeting.
Tuesday morning May 9th in the 5th floor meeting room of the State Office building there was an exceptional amount of support from many including representatives of the Native American business community, AIM activist Rachel Thunder, the Somali business community including National Small Businessman of the year Abdirahman Kahin, Northside activist Al Flowers, representatives of Ward 9, and numerous legislators including bill authors Rep Samantha Sencer-Mura who is the leading legislative organizer, Reps Frank Hornstein, Rep. Noor, Rep. Fue Lee, DFL House Majority Leader Jamie Long. Repdelete Hodan Hassan and Sen. Omar Fateh, and former representative Karen Clark, City Council Member Jason Chavez, AICDC Exec Director Mike Goze, EPNI Community Organizer Joe Vital, EPNI Board Members Dean Dovolis and Steve Sandberg, and East Phillips activist resident Daniel Schmidt all gathered for the purpose of finding a way to support the community development of the 7.6 acre Roof Depot property.
Thanks to all who support a healthier less toxic environment in Phillips in opposition to city proposals to increase traffic related air pollution in Phillips – where asthma rates are the highest in the city currently.

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