Opposition to Development

Pilot Knob Environmental Assessment Worksheet

In 2003 the Mendota Heights City Council ordered an Environmental Assessment Worksheet to be done on Pilot Knob in order to more fully understand the site's cultural significance.

Opposition to Development

The proposed development directly threatened the interests of the Dakota community.  As tribe member Robert Brown of the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community (MMDC) said, "We hope somebody will come along and purchase the land and put it to some public use, rather than have the whole site covered with upscale housing, and effectively do away with another part of our heritage." 1  In response, Thomas Casey, the lawyer for the MMDC, Bruce White,and Alan Woolworth, an emeritus historian and archaeologist at the Minnesota Historical Society, submitted historical evidence of the significance of the site and created a petition that many people in Mendota Heights, both Dakota and non-Native, signed, asking the city council to order an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) before approving the proposal. Under the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), which considers the impact of developments on sites of cultural and historic significance as well as environmental impacts, the sixty-day rule does not apply. As long as the environmental review was being conducted, the timeline for a decision would be stayed. By the December 2002 council meeting, Mayor Mertensotto had lost reelection and had been replaced by Mayor John Huber, who expressed interestin carefully considering the consequences of developing Pilot Knob. In January 2003, the Council ordered the EAW to be conducted at the developer’s cost.

"We hope somebody will come along and purchase the land and put it to some public use, rather than have the whole site covered with upscale housing, and effectively do away with another part of our heritage." -Robert Brown

  1. “Pilot Knob housing plans stir dissension,” Saint Paul Pioneer Press (Minnesota), December 15, 2002.