Lake Elmo City Council
DOES THE CURRENT GROWTH PLAN DO GOOD FOR OUR CITY OR FEEL GOOD FOR OUR CITY?
Unfortunately many times in Lake Elmo's history too much of our planning revolved around what feels good. The feel good policies lead us to say things like; slow growth v. fast growth, moratorium, etc. It may feel good to cast a ballot for someone who espouses those principles, but does it really do good for Lake Elmo? I would say the last two years would indicate it does not help our city. Look at the history of Lake Elmo, the same names who support, the current council majority, Councilman Emmons, and Mr. Roth all supported the same policies this group holds dear. Stop development at any cost to taxpayers. When the city had the option to develop large lots, we said no, minimum of 10 acres. This policy eventually lead to large tracts of land being developed around our city. Other policies have lead to a $500,000 expense to defend the city at the Minnesota Supreme Court, a Met Council mandate, and finally the loss of our insurance component covering us for zoning issues, this September.
In November of 2012 the citizens elected Mayor Pearson and Justin Bloyer. They ushered in a new era of working with outside governmental organizations to help Lake Elmo through the looming threat more than $8 million of Met Council fines that would have been levied, payable in a few short months! That is almost $3,000 per household. The reality of that would most likely been a bankruptcy by the city and the beginning of annexation. So to say we don't want to be Oakdale or Woodbury would have been accurate.
During 2013 and 2014 Justin worked closely with former administrator Dean Zuleger and Mayor Mike Pearson to bring a proposal to the Metropolitan Council which successfully negotiated the reduction of our population growth from roughly 21,000 residents to 18,000. During those two years Justin realized what came with the initial growth was the initial cost to the city. During that two year period 1,500 housing units were approved to insulate current tax payers from burdening the cost of sewer and water infrastructure. Although you hear of the massive amount of homes, the Tartan Park development approved by the "slow growth council was 20% in one fell swoop. Justin worked to stagger the construction to 100-150 units for the first years in order to not over burden our staff and our limited resources.
Justin’s philosophy on growth is simple. Take advantage of the proper markets when they are available. In 2008 the housing market was clamoring for an extreme high dense product as well as apartment buildings. Those are the times you slow growth in order to manage resident and city expectations. The period we are in currently, shows a demand for single family residential homes. While Mr. Roth has said his neighborhood “was sacrificed” to the Smith “Junk homes""that are ruining our city”, Julie Fliflet, I would disagree. The homes approved and being built in the I94 corridor have home value averages around $500,000. The current moratorium has pushed us two years closer to a swing in the market. With our sewer and water funds ticking toward the red because of the moratorium, and a $13 million error as reported in the Pioneer Press (staff report here), we are machining irresponsibly toward a day any development will be acceptable to stop the tax increases required to support infrastructure not being funded by development.