Attorney: Proposed development of Dayton estate a 'smack in the face'

Neighbors of the lakeside estate of the late Target Corp. founder Doug Dayton in Orono, Minn. have filed a lawsuit in an attempt to prevent the restored forest on the property from becoming part of a subdivision.

The estate, known as Meadowood, consists of 1,752 feet of Mooney Lake shoreline and 93 acres of prairie, woods, orchards and fields restored by Dayton himself, according to the Star Tribune.

The property also reportedly contains the last remnants of Minnesota’s Big Woods Forest, which once comprised nearly 200 million acres, according to a news release.

A plan is currently in the works to turn half the property, which has been on the market since 2014, into a subdivision of 11 homes while preserving the other half.

Neighbors are not pleased with the proposed development. They filed a lawsuit Wednesday to keep the development from progressing, claiming it violates the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act.

The lawsuit alleges the development “significant environmental degradation and destroy natural ecosystems” and will permanently destroy the Big Woods Forest.

“The development, as proposed, obliterates a significant portion of the forest and the prairie,” Robert Hopper, attorney for the neighbors, said in a news release. “But as equally troubling is that it is a 'smack in the face' of Doug Dayton's 50 or more years of stewardship of this verdant property, and his express wish before his death to leave the land in its natural state.”

Minnehaha Creek Watershed District statement

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District does not comment on pending litigation. The permit application for this project is still under consideration by District staff and no action has been taken. A public hearing will be scheduled at an upcoming Board of Managers meeting.