The Tolbert Ford Plant Site Amendment: A Pig with lipstick is still a Pig.


There’s this thing in politics called a “Red Herring.”

It’s a deliberate effort to mislead or deceive people into thinking you are doing something to help them when are, more likely, doing the exact opposite.

Which might be all you need to know about the proposed amendment that Councilmember Chris Tolbert says he intends to offer on the mass density development called the Ford Site Zoning and Public Realm Master Plan.

Unfortunately, this political stunt demands more explanation. 

Councilmember Tolbert claims his Amendment will reduce building heights on the Ford site from 110 feet to 75 feet.

Not exactly.

What it does is put a gun to the head of neighborhood residents who have been demanding far more greenspace than what the City is currently proposing on the Ford Plant site.

Want more greenspace?

Under the Tolbert Amendment the only way you get it is if you agree to building heights of 110 feet or more.

That’s not an Amendment. 

That’s political blackmail.

Tolbert knows that this is an Amendment to nowhere.

It does nothing.  It accomplishes nothing.

Reducing the heights of buildings from 110 feet to 75 feet isn’t a compromise, either.

It’s cynical effort to suggest that he has “listened” to the community and its concerns about buildings blocking out the viewscape along the Mississippi River.

The rest of the “improvements” he writes about in a Sunday Op-ed in the Pioneer Press are all things the City typically requires on any major development project in St. Paul.

In other words, a pig with lipstick is still a pig.

The amendment does nothing to address the numerous failings of this zoning proposal:

  • It doesn’t reduce density from 10,000 residents to far, far less.
  • It doesn’t address the massive congestion that will take place on neighborhood streets from 30,000 more vehicle trips each day.
  • It doesn’t address the gross lack of greenspace.
  • It doesn’t protect Saint Paul taxpayers from the City giving away hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies to private developers.
  • It doesn’t provide for a robust mixed-use development on the Ford Plant site

This is an amendment that creates a false choice:  You can have greenspace but only if you agree to 11 story  buildings.

It is a cruel deception at best.

The right thing for Councilmember Tolbert to do is to move to delay the vote on the Ford Plant zoning plan until after the November Mayoral election.

Let a new Administration look at this plan with a fresh set of eyes.

That’s the right thing to do.

If you agree, please contact Councilmember Tolbert and tell him to DELAY the vote on the Saint Paul Ford Plant zoning plan.

Phone: 651.266.8630

Email: and

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