St. Paul City Council votes to rezone Ford site

The St. Paul City Council approved the rezoning plan for the 135-acre former Ford assembly plant site. It’s a drastic change, 10 years in the making, switching the zoning from industrial use to a mix of business and low, mid and high density residential.

Concerns repeatedly brought up included everything from density, traffic, greenspace and environmental issues.

“We can't be giving Ford everything they want and allowing them to sit on a huge bunch of chemicals, it's kind of easy to let it be there,” said Councilwoman Jane Prince of Ward 7.

“This is the only site Ford has cleaned up in the entire country,” said Councilman Chris Tolbert of Ward 3. “Ford has cleaned up to residential standards. They are not legally obligated to clean it up to residential standards by Minnesota law.”

For some council members, the biggest sticking point is for the maximum 4,000-unit site to include more affordable housing. An amendment passed describes the specifics of the 20 percent now required for various low-income levels.

In the end, the divided council chambers reflected the mix of what people living in the community around the Ford site are feeling.

“It is the comprised plan we need, there is not a consensus plan hiding out there in the wilderness,” said one community member. “We can’t build a golf course, single family houses and a luxury hotel and a highway realignment and new Manhattan, this mixed-use, medium density plan is what we need.”

“There has not been an issue in the history of politics in this city, as far as I'm aware of, that has so divided a very amicable community,” said another resident.

Council members pointed out, the site is still years away from being developed. Any developers will have to present in front of City Council before anything starts to take shape.