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City gets tips on securing a healthy future

For the last couple of years the Urban Land Institute has been researching Rosemount and four other Minnesota cities to see if they can help them come up with policies that will make them thrive and be model communities for others in the future.

On Tuesday the council got to hear the recommendations that have come from that research. Cathy Bennett with the ULI presented the council with the institute's recommendations and gave the city a framework for moving forward.

The ULI partnered with the Regional Council of Mayors to provide the pilot program to evaluate the housing policies and to prepare current housing data. Five cities were selected to participate in the program, including Rosemount. The others were Brooklyn Park, Minnetonka, Richfield and Shoreview.

In May the ULI presented the housing data it had compiled on Rosemount to the council, port authority and planning commission during a joint meeting.

For Rosemount the future looks good but the city will need to make some changes to keep up. Bennett said the city is managing its growth and preserving its existing housing well but will need to diversify housing types and require quality and higher density housing to meet projected needs in the next decade or so.

Speaking on behalf of the ULI Bennett listed the areas in which their research showed the city can either improve or build on its current policies for future planning.

To begin with, Bennett said the city needs to continue to work on communication to reach its increasing and diverse residents. She said by working with different groups such as faith based organizations or schools with ties to the community the city will be able to better identify the types of housing necessary and provide appropriate resources such as classes and aid opportunities.

While the community has a sizable amount of middle-income housing Bennett said it will need to work on diversifying housing types to accommodate more people and their needs. She said the city is in need of entry level housing especially for young families and older adults looking to downsize.

She said that the city should evaluate its stock of apartments and rentals. While apartments are some of the city's most affordable housing, she said it also some its oldest and least accessible. She said the city should look at way to increase the number of apartments in the community as well as ways to improve the apartments currently in town. She recommended partnering with non-profit and profit organizations to foster this recommendation.

Lastly, Bennett said the city should use land controls and establish housing strategies to meet its goals and manage growth. She said there are a number of tools and policies the city could consider implementing such as a Point of Sale program and to continue with rental licensing programs that help maintain housing.

Additionally, she said the city should evaluate its zoning practices to see if there are better ways to manage land and promote redevelopment. Through such practices she said the city should find ways to promote long term affordable housing.

The city council approved Bennett's summary with few questions. Now the city will choose how to move forward with the information. Bennett said the city should start including the recommendations into future land decisions by integrating the recommendation into the city's planning. She suggested preparing a program that outlines the steps and time need to implement the recommendations. Additionally she said the city should evaluate the city's comprehensive plan and amend it as needed based on the recommendations.