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Some residents are concerned about the city’s current direction, accusing officials of cozying up to the Met Council.
“Very few residents in Lake Elmo consider their land to be an investment. They consider it to be their home,” DeLapp said.
One example of that contentiousness culminated in a 2004 state Supreme Court ruling that the Met Council had “authority to require modifications to comprehensive plans that depart from or have an impact on its system plans in a substantial manner,” according to court documents.
The city argued unsuccessfully that the Met Council had overstepped its bounds by ordering it to install sewer and water lines in the Old Village and along its southern border with Woodbury to accommodate projected population growth. As a result of the ruling, the council had more of a say about the city’s direction.
Now that they are working more closely with the Met Council, city officials hope the council will ease up and revise its population projections.
Mayor Mike Pearson said that talks with the council have “been going very well.”
“I think the Met Council has their perspectives and I think we shared ours, and I think we’re going to work out terms that are beneficial to both parties,” he said.
Moving forward, the city’s greatest challenge is preserving its small-town character while encouraging steady growth, Pearson said.
“Our model of open spaces and large lots, while very appealing, had its challenges, as it relates to city infrastructure and city services; for example, to sewer services and road maintenance,” he said.
“The zoning that was in place inhibited growth, and so we came up with different zoning where we allowed for commercial, we allowed for some industrial, we allowed for certainly residential, with sewer lines.”
City officials have also talked about redeveloping the Old Village, a project that entails the construction of 900 housings units and realignment of Hwy. 5 to prevent the area from being overrun by “cut-through” traffic when the new four-lane St. Croix River bridge opens in 2016. The bridge, at Oak Park Heights, is expected to draw more traffic.
Libor Jany • 651-925-5033 Twitter:@StribJany