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Council clears the way for business to expand

As the city of Rosemount has gone through its 2030 comprehensive planning process, CF Industries has followed along hoping to get some assurance that when the company wants to expand it will have the city's blessing.

During Tuesday's nights city council meeting the longtime Rosemount company finally got that assurance through a Planned Unit Development despite one council member's objections. The council passed a resolution 3-1 approving a PUD concept plan that will include 12 additional acres of former farm and pasture land into the 2030 Comprehensive Plan general industrial land use designation that will let the fertilizer company, which is located east of Rosemount, expand sometime down the road. Although the company has no plans in the works.

Council member Kim Shoe-Corrigan, the lone dissenting vote, said she thought the PUD was premature and that it wasn't good city policy to give up an opportunity to protect land. CF Industries abuts the Mississippi River and Spring Lake Park.

"I can not support this," Shoe-Corrigan said before the council voted.

The company originally asked the city to redesignate all its property general industrial. That request would have allowed for the rezoning of the property to heavy industrial. Staff denied the request however because the lands around CFI are environmentally sensitive and the city doesn't want the expansion of industrial uses along the river.

City planner Eric Zweber said if the city had simply re-designated the land then CFI could sell the property to another business, which could expand the number of businesses along the river. CFI submitted the PUD to address the city's concerns.

The planning commission recommended approval of the PUD to the council with 16 conditions. The conditions mostly pertain to environmental concerns the commission had.

John Shardlow, a consultant for CF Industries, addressed the council before it voted. He said the company has been a good corporate citizen and would continue to work with the city to be one. He called the PUD a way to memorialize an understanding between the city and CF Industries about the future development that will be allowed on the CFI site.

In exchange for the city's cooperation to allow future development of the site as defined by the PUD, CFI he said agreed to actively and permanently conserve the sensitive ecological areas around the company's facility.

"This is a creative use of a PUD," Shardlow told the council members. "What we're asking for is reasonable."

New council member Jeff Weisensel said from his view the request seemed reasonable. He voted in favor of the resolution as did Kurt Bills and mayor Bill Droste. Council member Mark DeBettignies was absent from Tuesday's meeting.

After the 2030 Comprehensive plan is approved the city council will go through and rezone land throughout the city. At that time it will rezone all the general industrial land to agricultural. To construct the development shown in the concept plan CF will need to apply for a rezoning to heavy industrial and submit a final site and building plan. Any of those plans will be reviewed and considered then.