BY SUE WEBBER
With an eye toward meeting developers’ requests and working toward Metropolitan Council goals, the Rogers City Council created a new residential zoning district.
According to Sheila Cartney, the city’s planner and Community Development coordinator, Rogers received two applications for a zoning text amendment to allow smaller and narrower lots in the residential zoning districts.
“Over the last nine months, city staff has met with several developers looking to plat lots within the 10,000 to 12,000 square foot range with 70-foot widths,” Cartney said. “Currently the zoning code does not allow these sizes with this width in any of our zoning districts.”
The current R2 zoning district requires 15,000 square feet and a minimum lot width of 100 feet. After considerable discussion, the council voted 4-1 on an amendment approving 10,000 square feet and a minimum lot width of 80 feet. Councilmember Maureen Stanley cast the dissenting vote.
“The applicants’ request for smaller lots is based on market demand and salability of the lots,” Cartney said. “The applicant also mentioned the environmental impacts larger lots have on lawn irrigation. Smaller lots reduce the amount of water usage.”
Meeting the requests for smaller lot sizes will help Rogers remain competitive with other cities, Cartney said, and also help with density goals the Metropolitan Council has set for Rogers.
Whereas the city now gets 1-1.5 parcels per acre, the smaller lots would enable 2-2.5 parcels per acre, she said.
“The uses would be the same,” Cartney said. “The only change would be the lot size and width.” The lots would need to be guided for single-family dwellings, she said.
“We all enjoy our large lots, but these [smaller] size lots are in demand,” councilor Rick Ihli said. “We are faced with a shortage of buildable lots. This might spur activity. Developers are saying they can market smaller homes. It’s what the market will bear. They would be an asset in the proper neighborhood. We’re still going to get bigger houses and large lots.”
Cartney agreed. “Some people want them [smaller lots],” she said. “People want to live in Rogers.” And she added that 15,000 square feet is “not doable for developers to build here.”
John Seifert, Rogers’ Public Works superintendent, suggested that the council “probably will want to take a hard look at being competitive with other communities.”
“We’ve talked to a dozen developers in the last year and a half, and they’re shocked that we hang onto the 15,000 square feet and 100-foot width,” Seifert said.
Councilor Don Hall agreed that the smaller lots would fit “in certain areas.”
“I wouldn’t want to see them in rural areas because that doesn’t fit,” Hall said.
City Administrator Steve Stahmer noted that Rogers is not served by the Metropolitan Council sewer. If the city expects to get help with that in the future, he said, it would be wise to work toward the Met Council’s density requirements whenever possible.
Councilor Darren Jakel agreed. “I love the larger lots, but in working to met Met Council goals we need to play along as best we can,” Jakel said.
Prior to the recession, developers tended toward putting as many townhomes as they could on a lot, Stahmer said. “After the recession, it’s moderating,” he said. “There aren’t as many large lots, or as much building as dense as possible.”
Mayor Jay Bunting emphasized that the narrower lots need to “happen in the right place.”
“There is a demand for it; they have a place,” he said. “These are going to be $300,000 to $400,000 homes. Some people just don’t want a gigantic lot.”