Last farm in Bloomington tangled in court battle

photo from Facebook
Controversy surrounds this historic farm.

It is a strange sight: a picturesque 60-acre farm at the end of a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport runway in Bloomington, near the Mall of America. On a bluff overlooking the Minnesota river, with pastures and barns, sheep and llamas nibbling on grass, and a trout stream running through one corner, the former James E. Kelley Farm is the subject of a court battle to determine future usage.

The farm was purchased by Kelley in 1932. Much of the land has been sold over the years, and developers have been eager to purchase the remaining acres. A contract to purchase was signed by Kelley's descendants and United Properties last year--but the sale still has not closed. The owners of the farm have recently been in court disputing the value of the property, which they say has been diminished by zoning changes due to the 2005 expansion of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The changes limit the height of commercial buildings and prohibit residential development. United Properties is said to be having trouble finding tenants for its project. The Kelley family's suit requests the land be taken by eminent domain. The Metropolitan Airports Commission and the city of Bloomington claim the suit to be groundless, according to the Star Tribune.

Also of note, in the 1880s 24 burial mounds were discovered on the site, but according to state archaeologist Scott Anfinson, they appear to have been removed by farming and construction. No recent evidence of the mounds has been found, but if discovered in the future, the land would be state protected.

Another historic farm in Bloomington, the Gideon Pond House at 401 East 104th Street, was purchased by the city and turned into a park and museum in the '90s. A Facebook group is hoping that the same thing will happen with the Kelley Farm and have started a campaign called Save the Last Remaining Farm in Bloomington.

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