The St. Paul Planning Commission on Friday tabled a decision about the Metropolitan Airports Commission plan to put a dike around Holman Field to protect it from flooding.
The MAC is seeking a variance to land-use regulations in the river area and approval of a site plan from the city to move forward on airport improvements worth more than $46 million.
The project has sparked concern by neighbors about the potential effects of the dike on flooding elsewhere, as well as about increased air traffic and noise over the city. The MAC said studies show the dike would not affect the city in either respect.
Supporters thought they had enough votes to earn Planning Commission approval for the airport upgrade, but last-minute information and letters submitted to the body prompted commissioners to delay a vote by two weeks.
Friday's gathering was one of the best-attended Planning Commission meetings in recent memory, and the issue sparked some barbed exchanges in the basement of City Hall, mostly over procedural matters.
The delay could affect the outcome of the case, because the terms of seven of the 21-member body have officially expired, and Mayor Chris Coleman could theoretically replace them before the final decision.
The Planning Commission will meet again about the matter Feb. 24.
The mayor has not made clear his position on the dike.
Coleman spokesman Bob Hume said Friday that the mayor is considering Planning Commission appointments but had set "no timetable."
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The governor appoints most of the 13 members of the commission, but the Minneapolis and St. Paul mayors have one appointment each.
Environmentalists say that the dike will adversely affect the river and that neighbors fear having flood protection will promote increased operations at the airport and lead to more noise.
Mayor Chris Coleman wasn't sounding dissuaded by fears expressed about changes to Holman Field.
The Metropolitan Airports Commission has revised its plan for a levee at the St. Paul Downtown Airport.