City hopes to deal with northeast population growth
The Medina City Council is continuing to wrestle with the issue of what to do about rapid growth in population density and traffic in the northeast corner of the city. At the moment, councilors are looking for a solution not involving a moratorium on new housing developments.
A solution might be changing the city’s staging plan, which contains dates during which different parts of the city would be opened to development. The City Council on Tuesday, July 1, directed city staff to look into what would be involved in studying potential changes designed to spread out some of the population density. How long would a study take? How much would it cost?
The council also took up other business. Here are some meeting highlights.
Medina created its staging plan for development when the city drafted its 2030 Comprehensive Plan. The Metropolitan Council requires metro cities to update their comprehensive plans every 10 years — a process that takes several years and involves lots of public input. The next update cycle will begin in fall 2015, said Medina Planner Dusty Finke.
The staging plan is a tool for managing urban sprawl and preventing leapfrog development. In Medina, land in the northeastern part of the city is in the stage that is open for development. Future stages for development move gradually to the west. This is Medina’s attempt to have sanitary sewers, city water and roads keep up with new development. But the city needs help from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Met Council in the form of roads and sewer mains.
Finke described the explosion in population in northeastern Medina and population forecasts — old and new. In 2010 Medina had 1,702 households and a population of 4,892. The current city comprehensive plan calls for Medina to add 2,500 households by 2030, a pace of 125 new households per year. In February, the Met Council lowered its population forecasts for Medina to 1,800 new households by 2030, a pace of 60 units per year.
Since 2011, Medina has approved plats for 510 single-family homes and 41 townhomes, and developers are proposing even more. Since 2010, builders have constructed 309 residential units, approximately 70 per year. A record 163 units were constructed in 2013.
Medina resident Robert Franklin has been watching the rapid population growth in the Wayzata School District, which includes northeast Medina and portions of Corcoran, Plymouth and Maple Grove. He said he had noticed that the availability of sanitary sewers has regulated the pace of development and where it takes place.
“Why can’t we use roads like this?” he asked.
Mayor Elizabeth Weir said, “You’re right on, Bob.”
She added that Medina has told the Met Council that the city does not have the transportation to support the population growth projected by the council, so the Met Council reduced its population projections.
The City Council also discussed pros and cons of a moratorium on development during which Medina would study land use and land use controls. A moratorium could be in place for up to a year, and by then it would be time to revise the city’s comprehensive plan. City Councilor John Anderson said he did not want to take the idea of a moratorium off of the table. He was willing to look first at potential changes in the development staging plan.
William Jensen of Mediacom reported on his company’s plans for laying fiber optic cable in areas of Medina that are underserved for access to broadband. Once the cable is in place, residents and businesses will be able to hook up to high-speed internet, cable TV and phone service.
Jensen said wet weather and resulting soft soil has helped Mediacom with construction. He expected 6.46 miles of cable work to be completed within the next two to three weeks. New cable is being laid first in the northeast part of Medina, including the Reserve of Medina and Bridgewater subdivisions.
Medina is asking for 15 miles of additional cable this year, and Mediacom is in a good position to add 10 of these miles, he said.
Mediacom is applying to the state for grant money to fund construction of cable in unserved and underserved portions of Medina, Jensen said. He was hopeful about the grant because his company is willing to dig dirt this year. Grant money would enable Mediacom to lay 5 to 6 more miles of cable.
Medina and Mediacom have agreed to share costs of cable construction, with the city paying $12,000 per mile and Mediacom the remainder (currently $15,000 per mile). This arrangement is for the cable line in the roadway. Residents and Mediacom will share costs of connecting to the main cable line.
NO WAKE ORDINANCE
Mike McLaughlin, president of the Lake Independence Citizens Association, asked the council to change the slow, no wake ordinance for Lake Independence. The current ordinance calls for boaters to observe slow, no wake within 250 feet from shore during periods of high water, 957.8 feet above sea level or higher. McLaughlin said it would be easier to enforce an ordinance that applies to the entire lake.
The council directed staff to work with the city of Independence on a revised ordinance. The Department of Natural Resources requires both cities to have identical ordinances when a lake is located in both cities.
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