Weather Forecast


City of Watson, tomato grower headed back to court over long-running and contentious issue

Aziz Ansari is shown in this file photo near the hoop structures where he raises vegetables on his residential lot alongside Minnesota Highway 7 in the city of Watson. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

WATSON -- The city of Watson and resident Aziz Ansari are headed back to court, despite a mediated settlement that was intended to resolve differences the two.

Ansari filed a motion in District Court on June 2 contending that the city of Watson has not fulfilled its obligations under the settlement, which the two sides reached during a 13-hour-long mediation session in April. The Watson City Council subsequently ratified the agreement.

Ansari claims in the motion that the city has failed to issue him permits for his vegetable growing operation as the agreement requires.

According to Ansari, the agreement requires the city to pay him $50,000, rezone his property and issue a conditional use permit to him for his vegetable growing operation.

It has not provided the compensation either, he said.

He said wording in the agreement specifically states the city "shall issue'' the permits to him, and makes no mention of a need on his part to apply for them.

As part of the settlement, he agreed to drop a discrimination lawsuit against the city and obtain a building permit for a stairway. The agreement also states that he must apply to rezone his property if he wants to develop a nursery and greenhouse.

Tory Gilchrist, a lawyer with Kennedy and Graven of Minneapolis, said the city believes that Ansari must apply for the permits before they can be issued to him. He said the city has sent the forms to Ansari to apply for the permits, but has not received the applications.

He said the city has to follow its normal procedures for issuing permits or re-zoning property to assure that city ordinances are being met and neighboring properties are not adversely affected.

The matter is scheduled for a hearing July 2 before District Judge David Mennis.