Neighbors protest against housing development proposed by Cottage Grove Nature Reserve

A subdivision is proposed adjacent to the Gray Cloud Dunes Science and Natural Area in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. (FOX 9)

With its hills and unique flora, the Gray Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area is a naturalist’s dream. Soon, it will be adjacent to a large housing estate. It’s a change that environmentalists and neighbors hope to prevent.

About two dozen people turned up at the Cottage Grove city council meeting on Wednesday to voice their opposition to the development, saying the land is a treasured natural landscape that should be protected.

“We’re taking this incredibly pristine place and building apartment buildings. It’s just not the right thing to do,” said worried neighbor Carla Inderrieden.

The proposed development encompasses 180 acres of land along the Mississippi River. While there was once a golf course, it has remained untouched until now.

Inderrieden, who moved to the area last year, would like the land to remain ‘as is’, which she says would complement the adjacent national park. But, according to the mayor, buying the land from private owners would cost millions of dollars that the city just doesn’t have.

“Our hands are a bit tied in the amount of stuff we can do with this,” Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey said.

Mayor Bailey says that this is private land and already zoned for residential use, there is not much that city officials can do to stop it. He says that although proposals for the project have yet to be submitted, they have been working proactively with the developer to maintain as much natural park land as possible.

“We listen, but there are only some things we can legally do when it comes to taking property and we can’t take everything,” Bailey said.

Bailey said the city would conduct an environmental assessment and promised neighbors a series of town halls Wednesday night.

Those fighting development have obtained advice and are planning to take legal action against the city and the developer.

“It’s not about fighting business or fighting progress, it’s about surviving another generation,” said Inderrieden.

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