Prior Lake is extending a moratorium on development along a key stretch of County Road 42 while it tweaks recommendations from a consultant’s study that has recommended less high-density housing and industrial development along the corridor.
The halt to new housing and commercial projects along the highway went into effect in March and was supposed to expire this month, giving the city time to commission and review the study of development potential for about 1,150 acres of farmland and wooded areas. Some parcels that are part of the Jeffers Pond and Shepherd’s Path mixed-use developments were exempted from the moratorium because they are part of larger projects previously approved by the city.
The completed study by WSB & Associates has recommended a significant reduction in acreage zoned for business parks, which typically contain buildings for offices and light manufacturing. The amount of land for smaller neighborhood retail centers also would decline but would increase for community centers, which typically are larger and serve a wider area.
Acreage for high-density housing like apartment buildings also would be reduced, and the amount of land for low-density housing also would drop slightly. The amount of land zoned for medium-density housing, like townhouses and single-family homes on smaller lots, would increase in order to meet Metropolitan Council housing density requirements.
The City Council recently decided to hold off on approving the study and any related amendments to the city’s 2030 comprehensive land use and transportation plan. Council members voted to extend the cooling-off period to Dec. 31, keeping the Jeffers Pond and Shepherd Path exemptions and adding a few other sites where no changes in land use are expected.
The extension wasn’t related to any of the study’s overall recommendations. Rather it was aimed at giving city planners time to streamline suggested land uses in what would be five additional mixed-use zones.
The new zones are designed to reduce the overall number of districts with separate types of commercial and residential designations. Council members liked the idea of more mixed use, but weren’t happy because the balance of commercial and residential would be different in each zone.
“I’m looking for something that would be simpler to administer,” said Mayor Ken Hedberg.
Council member Monique Morton agreed. “We’re making it more cumbersome,” she said. “We need to unify it.”
Dan Rogness, community and economic director, said he will work to come up with a single formula for the new mixed-use districts.
Rogness said the idea for the temporary halt grew out of discussions by city planners on the need to update the community’s long-term vision of development, something that hadn’t been done in eight years.
He said the construction of County Road 21 leading into Prior Lake from Shakopee was another significant reason to re-evaluate the 42 corridor, because it shifted developers’ interest westward toward the 42 and 21 intersection.