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UMore AUAR review process continues

An Alternative Urban Arewide Review that outlines the possible impacts the University of Minnesota's planned UMore Park development will have on Rosemount and Empire Township was the topic of discussion at a public meeting on Monday, and community members came prepared with their questions.

Concept plans for the 5,000 acres in UMore park have been under development since 2009, and have been narrowed down to three scenarios. With plans for the future development of the UMore Park area including up to 30,000 people and up to 24,000 jobs, each scenario covers a variation of those numbers. In addition to the three scenarios, the planners also consider an option in which no development takes place in order to see what option has the greatest impact.

The document, which is over 100 pages, was summarized for the community at the meeting Monday.

Andrea Moffatt, a consultant for WSB Associates who works with environmental planning, spoke on behalf of the city of Rosemount. Moffat began by letting the community know that they are looking at development as it has been in the past, as well as looking at the infrastructure. According to Moffat, in order to do that, they need to know just how impactful each of the scenarios is. The AUAR document covers the long term and long range planning for the UMore site.

The speakers at the meeting went over all of the aspects of UMore Park that can be affected by the proposed developments, including ecological resources, threatened and endangered species, native prairie areas, open land, water issues, sensitive resources and traffic. The extensive document describes the impact development of the area would have on each of these aspects, and each were touched on at the meeting.

The community had many concerns when discussing these issues, but especially when it came to discussing traffic and water issues. Their main concerns were that the city and developers for UMore Park would have to buy land outside of what they already own to make these renovations happen.

The plan for UMore Park would most likely include construction onsurrounding roadways, including but not limited to County Roads 42 and 46. This construction would include expansion on some roads, making them anywhere from two to six lanes, depending on the road. Rosemount city planner Eric Zweber said both sides of County Rd. 46 near the development site are owned by UMore, so any construction or expansion made to that road would already be on UMore property. The concerns arose when discussing County Rd. 42. According to Zweber, road widening and expansion could go into additional lands not owned by UMore, but it depends on the design of the intersections and layouts of the roads. He also said, when suitable, they hope to use UMore Park-owned land versus going outside of that.

The other issue many members of the community sounded off on was where the stormwater would go, and how it would be kept from flowing into the lake that is already on the property. Zweber, referring to the map, said that most water would flow to the Mississippi or Vermillion River, and that the areas that do flow to the lake will have to meet stormwater standards before doing so.

There are many aspects being looked at throughout this development process, and the next steps will take time. The city reviews its own comprehensive plan every 10 years, and the next review is in 2015, with development of approved plans beginning in 2018. If the University wanted to start its development sooner than that, they would apply for their plan separate from the comprehensive planning process. If they do not wish to do so, the city could choose to come forward to begin the development process.

Throughout the meeting it was also pointed out that the plans for UMore Park are projections only through 2030, and those working on the process are hoping to plan beyond that as well.

The full document is available on the city's website, as well as in hard copy at the City of Rosemount offices. The AUAR will be revised as appropriate throughout July and August and the document is still open for comments online through July 10. After the revisions have been made, there will be an additional 10 day comment period in August and September when community members can provide additional feedback and see if their previous comments have been addressed as part of the revision. The city council will then consider the plans through September and October.