North Oaks is withdrawing a request to connect a new residential development with the regional sewage system — for now.

Metropolitan Council staff members had balked at the idea, saying it could set a bad precedent because the planned development doesn't meet density requirements to hook into the system.

North Oaks, a private community in Ramsey County, has been seeking a comprehensive plan amendment to change the designation of the planned 72-acre development called Red Forest Way South from "rural residential," a category with houses on larger lots and septic systems, to "emerging suburban edge," which would allow homes to connect to regional sewer services.

The city argued that connecting would be more environmentally friendly, and that unique conservation circumstances in North Oaks — much of the land is covered by deed restrictions — make it difficult to further subdivide lots. But to amend the plan, North Oaks needed the Met Council's blessing, which North Oaks officials said in an April 11 meeting it did not appear likely to get.

Met Council rules require at least three homes per acre for a neighborhood to be considered emerging suburban edge. Red Forest Way South's proposed net density was one home per 3 acres.

"When we think about putting a standard in place, when we start to allow for exceptions to that standard, that standard becomes meaningless," Lisa Barajas, the Met Council's community development director told the Star Tribune last month.

Besides the danger of setting a precedent, Met Council staff said connecting disparate homes to regional sewer is expensive, and argued that granting the change wouldn't help the city meet its overall density goals.

Mark Houge, the president of North Oaks Company, which has developed most of the city, asked the council on April 11 to withdraw the proposal. He said he believes the city could amend and resubmit the plan to reach density goals and connect some of the homes to regional sewer.

Among the solutions he proposed were keeping some lots in Red Forest Way South on septic and correcting what he said were density miscalculations in other neighborhoods.