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Neighbor sues to block estate from dividing late millionaire's Lake Minnetonka property

The estate of Irwin Jacobs wants to build six new homes on the late businessman's property.
Irwin Jacobs home

The future of the Lake Minnetonka property belonging to a billionaire who killed his wife and then himself is now the subject of a lawsuit filed in Hennepin County.

Barbara Burwell, whose property borders the eastern edge of the 20-acre Jacobs estate at 1700 Shoreline Drive, on Lake Minnetonka's Smith Bay in Orono, has filed a suit claiming a proposal to split up the property into multiple lots would contravene city rules on lake setbacks, and would also see part of her property taken and trees removed to make way for road improvements.

The home at 1700 Shoreline Drive is now in the hands of trustees for the Jacobs estate, which comes after the death of Irwin Jacobs and his wife Alexandra in a murder-suicide in April 2019.

As well as the Jacobs estate, Burwell is also suing the City of Orono for preliminarily approving the plans in February that would see six new homes built on the property, though the plan is still subject to full approval by the city council.

The lawsuit claims that the estate "manufactured an artificial average lakeshore setback (ALS) line ... that would allow houses to be built further south than would be allowed by the existing ALS line."

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The suit says the purpose of moving this line was to "pack more houses into the proposed subdivision than is otherwise permitted."

Burwell's attorney, Aaron Dean of Moss & Barnett, said filing a lawsuit against the proposed development was their last resort.

"Mrs. Burwell did not want to commence suit," he said. "She and her late husband were friends with Irwin Jacobs and (his wife) Alex Jacobs for decades.

"The proposed six lot development of the Jacobs estate violates several city of Orono ordinances and affects Mrs. Burwell’s property."

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