Lake Elmo shipping 2040 plan to Met Council


courtesy of City of Lake Elmo Lake Elmo’s 2040 comprehensive plan final draft was approved by the city council Feb. 5. It includes areas for development — the Village Planning Area and South Planning Area — to anticipate projected population growth.

Lake Elmo city staffers and its city council had been working with consultants since 2017, holding a series of hearings and public meetings to complete and submit a 2040 Comprehensive Plan to the Metropolitan Council by the end of 2018. 

Come May 2018, Lake Elmo wasn’t likely to meet that deadline, so the Met Council gave the city an extension through the end of February this year.

At its Feb. 5 meeting, the Lake Elmo City Council unanimously approved the updated plan. 

“I’m sure, when we started this a couple years ago, you wondered if we’d ever get here,” said Jennifer Haskamp, a consultant from St. Paul-based Swanson Haskamp Consulting. “It’s exciting that we are.”

 

Plan goals and latest updates

A Met Council 2015 study forecast Lake Elmo’s population doubling by 2040. Accompanying the added people will be a possible 1,000 jobs and more than double the number of households counted in the 2010 census. 

Though Lake Elmo’s plan says development growth is guided by these population projections, Haskamp reiterated at the Feb. 5 meeting a priority to maintain the desolate charm of Lake Elmo’s rural areas. 

In accordance with Met Council data and its 20-page checklist for the comp plan, the city designated areas for increased development to anticipate the expanding population and meet higher density standards for affordable housing. 

There are two areas: one, in the northeast of the city, called Village Planning Area, and the other, along the southern border, called the South Planning Area. 

Sections of each will have up to five dwelling units per acre, with higher-density affordable housing regions having at least eight units per acre. Haskamp said consultants and city staffers made a point to keep more rural areas at a maximum density of one dwelling per 10 acres. 

Another aspect of preparing a comprehensive plan for the next two decades in the city was reaching out to agencies and neighboring cities to review it. A few jurisdictions, like Washington County and Lake Elmo’s southern neighbor, the City of Afton, had a few comments. Each required minor, but important, changes, some as small as grammatical and mapping errors — others were insignificant enough that the city could move forward with the plan without altering it.

Afton officials sent a letter, expressing concern that development on the north side of Interstate 94, by the Manning Avenue exchange, may funnel extra traffic their way. Afton also worried about what more urban development would do to area groundwater resources. 

“We appreciate their concerns, but they did not seem significant enough, or warrant changing anything to the plan,” said planning director Ken Roberts. He added that the Washington County comments included important points, “mostly housekeeping, name changes, corrections, that we have incorporated into the plan.”

The final draft will be submitted to the Met Council, which will review and return it within 120 days. 

 

–Solomon Gustavo can be reached at sgustavo@lillienews.com or 651-748-7815.

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