Proposed zoning change upsets residentsResidents worried a proposed change would make it easier for the city to sell parks. In response the commission removed the parks portion from the proposed text amendment changes.
By: Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages
A packed house turned out to defend city parks at the Rosemount Planning Commission meeting Tuesday night.
The commission held a public hearing regarding several text amendments regarding public and institutional uses. One of the recommended changes was to change the zoning of the city’s parks from public/institutional to residential.
The proposed change did not sit well with many residents. More than 100 people turned out for the meeting. Residents spilled out of council chambers into the lobby of city hall. Dozens spoke against the proposed changes, especially when it came to the piece about the parks.
City planner Jason Lindahl said the intent of the changes was to come into compliance with the city’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan, provide consistency in zoning standards for public and institutional uses and limit the city’s risk to potential litigation.
Incidents in nearby communities led staff to bring the issue to the planning commission. Burnsville, Eagan and Mendota Heights all had privately owned golf courses that wanted to redevelop but had limited marketability because of the public/institutional zoning. While there are no similar cases in Rosemount at present, Lindahl said staff thinks it’s important to review the city’s policies because the issue transcends just golf courses.
The changes would narrow the scope of the public/institutional zone to major public uses such as Dakota County Technical College, Rosemount High School and the Rosemount Community Center.
Minor public uses such as parks, churches and elementary or middle schools would be rezoned to residential classifications. That change did not sit well with people.
Lindahl repeated several times that all the city’s parks would maintain their land use designation in the Comprehensive Plan as existing parks and open space, ensuring long term use as parks.
Before opening the public hearing, chair John Powell asked Lindahl if the move would make it easier for the city to change park land for building. Lindahl said it wouldn’t, but the crowd that had gathered didn’t believe him.
Resident after resident expressed concerns that the move would open the way for the city to change parklands into housing developments.
Tom McCarty said he was disappointed city staff didn’t notify more of the public about the issue and the meeting being held. He said he doesn’t have a lot of trust in government and felt the parks and abutting property owners were at risk if the changes were made.
Steve Mann, who lives near Carroll’s Woods Park, said he believes the risk of litigation against the city as things are now is slim. He added that the move took the city one step closer to turning the parks into residential developments.
Don Sinnwell told the planning commission he thought they were having a knee jerk reaction to law suits in other cities. He said the changes were a waste of time and money.
Deb Kaczmareck asked the commission to table the discussion to give residents the opportunity to read the 71-page document that laid out the changes. She went on to criticize staff for filling the document with hard to read jargon.
Karen Kirkwood, who lives near Innesfree Park, said the changes made no sense and could lead to the loss of city parks.
“This is not an impossible predicament to come up,” Kirkwood told the commission.
After more than an hour of taking public comment, community development director Kim Lindquist suggested the parks part be removed from the proposed changes and that the rest be tabled to the March 27 planning commission meeting.
Lindquist said staff brought the issue to the planning commission to make zoning standards match the Comprehensive Plan. Additionally she said as it is now the public/institutional zone is not very good and needs improvement. Specifically, she said it lacks development standards.
After some discussion the commission chose to continue the public hearing to the March 27 planning commission meeting.
Lindquist said they will still go ahead with changing churches and schools and will add building standards to the Public/Institutional zone.
Information about the issue is available on the city's website at ci.rosemount.mn.us.