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Reports may help shape Farmington's future growth

With single family housing construction picking up again, and somewhere around 200 lots still available, Farmington is ready for its next round of growth. But where, when and how some of that growth comes is still being planned.

Within the past month, the city of Farmington has received two separate pieces of information that could help guide that growth. Both the Metropolitan Council and the Dakota County Community Development Agency have recently shared statistics that may be helpful in planning Farmington’s future.

In mid-February, the Met Council adjusted its 2040 population projections for communities across the state. In Farmington’s case, the number increased from 26,900 to 31,500. The current population estimate is 22,154.

The Met Council requires communities to update their comprehensive plans every 10 years. The comp plans are designed to lay out what type of development occurs in a community, and where that development happens. Every acre of land is assigned to a zone – single family/residential, business, agricultural, industrial and so on.

As part of the update process, the Met Council sends out a “system statement” that will identify areas each community should address in its plan update. Wippler expects to receive those recommendations in 2015. When the system statement arrives, Farmington planners will know what it needs to include or update to meet the community’s future needs.

“I’m fairly comfortable with the (population) numbers that were released,” Wippler said. “Of course, with any kind of project … you don’t know what’s going to happen 26 years down the road.”

CDA report

According to a recent study completed by Maxfield Research, Inc. for the Dakota County CDA, there is a need for more senior and affordable housing in Farmington.

Mary Bujold of Maxfield Research, Inc., shared some of the study’s findings at the March 3 city council meeting. The study looked at population, household and employment growth from 2010 through 2030.

The CDA’s study indicates there is a demand for more rental housing. There is only one affordable housing family townhome project in the community, according to the report, and it is fully occupied.

“The update analysis supports that about 30 percent of all new housing added in Farmington by 2030 should be rental, and that about 40 percent of that rental construction be targeted to households with moderate incomes,” the report reads.

The report also points to a need for more affordable senior housing. The Vermillion River Crossing apartment – a CDA development – is the only designated affordable senior housing property in the community. It has 66 units, and all of them are full.

Farmington has land zoned for construction of both townhomes and apartments, Wippler said. The problem is that it’s hard to find developers who want to build those types of units.

“It doesn’t surprise me that there’s a need,” Wippler said. “We do have a significant amount of land set aside for that, but whether it’s developable now is another thing.”

Between 2001 and 2004, there were 883 townhome units constructed, but those units were for sale, not rental. The last year any townhomes were constructed in Farmington was 2008.

While the CDA’s study is helpful, Wippler said, it does not have any bearing on the 2040 comp plan.

“There won’t be anything tying these two together. We may use a portion of the CDA study, but ultimately we have to base our update on that system statement,” he said. “The CDA recommendation is only a recommendation. We’re not bound by it at all, but it’s good information to have.”

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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