MOUNDS VIEW, MN-A group of citizens opposed to selling a city golf course to Medtronic for the medical device company’s major expansion project are gathering signatures to try to force a referendum on the sale.

While the legal issues have yet to be resolved about the effort, it does appear that the city’s charter affords citizens broad powers to reverse city council decisions through citywide referendums. The opponents of the proposed Medtronic development hope to put the project on the November ballot.

Last month, the council approved the sale of the city-owned Bridges of Mounds View Golf Course to Medtronic, the Fridley-based medical technology company. Medtronic hopes to break ground in September on a $65-million, 820,000-sf headquarters for its cardiac rhythm management group.

To force referendum on the issue, the group appears to need just slightly less than 1,000 signatures, although they aim to exceed that minimum by 100 or so by early next month.

While the charter says that city land can only be sold through an ordinance and that a referendum may be held on ordinances, it is also true that state law supersedes city charters. State courts have held that a referendum only should be used with regard to general laws applicable to everyone–a ruling that may not allow an effort to overturn a land sale.

Richard Fischer, a spokesman for Medtronic, says his company his aware of the petition drive but adds that the company has received overwhelmingly positive support from Mounds View residents and plans to begin work at the site in September.

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