Lawsuit: Indian casino was part of West Lakeland Township plan for water system

BIAMO BET


A lawsuit claims West Lakeland Township supervisors endorsed a plan to build a new water system not only for residents but also to assist a future casino.

The group Citizens Opposed to Municipal Water alleges in their lawsuit filed in Washington County that the water system — which was recommended by the state because of pollution concerns — was secretly endorsed by supervisors to assist a potential casino to be operated by the Prairie Island Indian Community. Prairie Island runs the Treasure Island Resort and Casino in Red Wing.

Plans for the water system – which have since been dropped – called for service for about 742 homes, or half of the township’s households. The water system — to cost $154 million — would be paid for through settlement money the township obtained from 3M to deal with perfluorochemicals found in drinking water in Washington County. While the facility was recommended by the state it drew opposition from some residents.

“It’s almost unbelievable how much the supervisors are doing wrong,” said Charles Devine, a former Afton mayor who has been retained as an expert witness by the group.

The three township supervisors — Dan Kyllo, Dave Schultz and Marian Appelt — either chose not to comment or did not respond to requests for comment. An attorney for the township, Nicholas O’Connell, did not respond to a phone message Thursday.

The township has filed a response to the lawsuit which denies all allegations, but does not explain how the decision was reached to endorse the water project.

Citizens Opposed to Municipal Water is now reaching out to residents by mailing pamphlets and holding public meetings. It sued the township in September and updated the lawsuit later in the fall.

LAWSUIT ASKS COURT TO REMOVE SUPERVISORS

The lawsuit asks the Washington County District Court to remove the supervisors from office, and to hold a referendum to increase the number of supervisors from three to five. It asks the court to order the township to pay unspecified costs and attorneys’ fees, and fines paid by individual supervisors.

The $154 million system was recommended by state agencies in 2020 as a way to clean up polluting chemicals originally manufactured by 3M. The township’s municipal system would have been paid for by the 2018 settlement of an environmental damage lawsuit, in which 3M paid $850 million to improve local water supplies. Of that, $700 million remains after legal expenses.

The money for the 4,200-population township was a larger amount than was allocated for its neighbors, including Woodbury’s $70 million, and Lake Elmo’s $66 million.

The township has no water system – all homes have private wells. The recommendation called for building a water tower, two municipal wells and 41 miles of water mains. It would have required rebuilding most of the roads, because the water mains are installed under the roads.



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