ADVERTISEMENT

Wind turbine at UMore Park

Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

Rosemount, Empire Township take big step in future of UMore Park

  • Article by: Liala Helal
  • Star Tribune
  • June 19, 2013 - 9:11 AM

The huge new development envisioned on the UMore Park property in Rosemount and Empire Township could have anywhere from 25,000 to 35,000 residents and 18,000 to 24,000 jobs, depending on which of four scenarios the University of Minnesota pursues.

The numbers were outlined in an environmental study released last month that attempts to describe the impact of the project, which would transform the 7.8-square-mile university property into a master-planned, transit-­oriented commercial and residential development that could double Rosemount’s population in the next 30 to 35 years.

The 113-page draft report is the first step toward meeting state requirements for developing the land, and the plans won’t come to fruition for decades. But it’s a key moment, and a chance for residents to offer their comments on the plans for the land currently owned by the U and used for agricultural research. A community meeting is set for Monday.

“Getting the public and agency comments is probably the biggest step of all,” said Rosemount Senior Planner Eric Zweber. About three-fifths of the park is in Rosemount; the rest is in Empire Township.

The report considers the impact of development on wildlife and ecological resources, stormwater management, the water supply, sanitary sewers, traffic, air and noise, and more. Scenario 1, which projects 14,000 housing units, 35,000 residents and 18,000 jobs, and Scenario 2, which estimates 10,500 housing units, 25,000 residents and 18,000 jobs, generate more traffic and waste and use more water than the third scenario. Scenario 3 has slightly less housing but more jobs, with 13,000 housing units, 30,000 residents and 25,000 jobs. For comparison’s sake, the study also listed a fourth scenario: doing nothing.

Carla Carlson, executive director of UMore Development LLC, said the University’s Board of Regents were considering options for “best and highest use of the property” when analyzing plans in 2006.

“What the Board of Regents decided to do then was to add value to the property through development,” Carlson explained. The land is not only used for agricultural research, but over the years has been rented out to farmers.

Kim Lindquist, Rosemount’s community development director, says there have always been questions about whether the UMore property would be developed or if development would bypass the UMore land.

“Certainly, the idea of development there … is good for the city from an infrastructure standpoint,” Lindquist said. “If you develop, and you have to bypass 3,000 acres, that’s an incredibly costly thing to do from an infrastructure standpoint. So the development of UMore allows the city again to continue kind of an incremental, rational growth pattern.” She emphasized that the City Council has “been very firm that UMore will not be an entity unto itself.”

“In fact, it will continue to be part of Rosemount,” Lindquist said. “From our standpoint, it’s really a large neighborhood in a city.”

The city will host a community meeting about the impacts of development on Monday to elicit public comment. A formal presentation from the city is set to start at 7 p.m., and the public is invited to look over information and ask questions beginning at 6:30 p.m. The event will take place at the Rosemount Community Center.

To view the report, see Rosemount’s website at www.ci.rosemount.mn.us or look at a paper copy at the Robert Trail Library or Rosemount City Hall. The city’s website has a link to e-mail comments to city staff, and comments can also be mailed to City Hall.

The Rosemount City Council will take comments until July 10. “As you can imagine, none of us can really predict the future and put things in place today that are going to be exactly appropriate 35 years from now,” Carlson said. “[The study] doesn’t get into all the details you would need to have in place before you considered development. But it does look comprehensively at what are the kinds of impacts development would have.”

 

Liala Helal • 952-746-3286

© 2014 Star Tribune