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A big year behind the scenes for UMore project

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2011 will be a big year for the UMore project on several levels. In the next year there will be an environmental review that will essentially establish the capacity of the 5,000 acres owned by the University of Minnesota, much of which is in Empire Township. The city of Rosemount will also establish an ordinance to govern gravel mining operations on the property and the university will get more specifics about its plans for the sustainable living project.

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The university owns the property, which straddles the Rosemount-Empire Township border. The university plans to build a unique, sustainable community of 20,000 to 30,000 people over the next 25 to 30 years.

AUAR

The Rosemount City Council recently approved a joint powers agreement with Empire Township that will pave the way for an environmental review for the property. Rosemount will be the responsible unit of government for an Alternative Urban Areawide Review.

Through the AUAR, the city will create three scenarios for the property. The process will determine the capacity of the land and the resources it will take to provide services, such as education, utilities and emergency rescue, to those people said UMore Development president Charles Muscoplat.

Work on the AUAR should start in the next several months. The project will take 18 to 20 months to complete and will include a number of public hearings and reviews.

The university will pay for the AUAR.

The completed review will be the basis for a comprehensive plan amendment. When the city updated its comprehensive plan last year, it intentionally left out the UMore project.

While the university has said it hopes to build a community of 20,000 to 40,000 people, Muscoplat said the number established as part of the review will be what the university actually works toward.

Mining

To pay for the project the university plans to mine gravel on the site. The university has partnered with Dakota Aggregates to do the mining. Before any ground can be broken though, the city has to create an ordinance to govern the operation.

While there are several gravel mines within the city, there is nothing close to the scale of the operation the university has proposed.

Currently Dakota Aggregates and the university are coming up with a mining plan. When complete, the plan will be submitted to the city and the city's planning department will work with the plan to draft an ordinance.

Muscoplat anticipated that the whole process could take most of the year, meaning the permit for mining wouldn't be granted until late 2011 or even early 2012.

Specifics

While the city trudges through its responsibilities, the university has its own. Over the next year the university will work to come up with more specifics about the project. He said while they have committed to building a sustainable community, planners have not yet established exactly how to do that.

"We have a big vision. We want to build a sustainable community but what we have to figure out here on campus is what that means," said Muscoplat.

The university hopes to answer that question this year as it delves into figuring out ways of doing that.

After a clear picture is defined, Muscoplat said they hope to find a development partner to make the picture a reality.

Information

For more information on UMore visit umorepark.umn.edu. The site is updated with the most current information.

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Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
(651) 460-6606
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