• 03May

    I am really impressed with the detail and analysis contained in this report. All of the recommendations in this report are quite conservative and easily implemented. Robert Hickey of Grounded Solutions engaged a wide range of stakeholders to ensure accuracy of the data.

    Mixed Income Housing Policy Report Read more…

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  • 06Mar

    This was sent out as the “final” revised Stantec report. The Stantec report articulates the significant issues in the Olmsted County Planning Department (note these are funding, staffing issues; not problems with existing staff). It has been half a year with no action.

    The initial report was bleak, spot on, and a call to action. Here is where you can find that initial report.

    Initial Report (edit: hopefully fixed the link)

    I have not reviewed what was changed, but would be very interested in a member of the public summarizing the changes for me.

    Well, well, well, it would appear significant changes were made and no one seems to know who made these changes. It certainly was not done by any public body in any public meeting. Thank you to the person OR people that provided this analysis:

    Comparison.

     

     

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  • 20Jan

    Here is a memo that I asked administration to distribute to community leaders including DMC. I am very concerned about the trajectory of TIF on the Heart of the City North project. As such I seek to inform my colleagues and the community.

    In the spirit of collaboration I am happy to meet with any community to discuss these findings and conclusions. I see this as part of being a fiscal steward in the community.

    Memo to community leaders

    Edit: corrected formatting error.

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  • 17Nov

    Bloom Capital Rendering photo Screen Shot 2016-11-17 at 11.51.57 AM_zpsg9phsimg.png

    Here is an updated presentation on the Bloom Capital Project. I hope that we have an inclusionary zoning ordinance in place to ensure that all projects at this scale have an affordable component.

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  • 13Oct

    As always I am answering the questions for a private organization in a public way so everyone can see them. I have also requested a link to other candidate responses AND a link to the video recording of the candidate forum I participated in. I think some of the answers given in that forum were very enlightening and wish to share them.

    Do you believe there is a need for a development coordinator in the city of Rochester, one that would provide guidance through the development process and be the point contact for developers?

    Read more…

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  • 27Sep

    Edit: See the apology from the Rochester Area Builders Association below. As far as I am concerned end of story…

    My pledge to the people of Rochester is to act with integrity and courage. I participated in 2 candidate discussions one was very good (Jane Belau) and the other left a bad taste in my mouth.

    I did accept the invitation from the Rochester Area Builders to come sit on a candidate panel. This is not usually the most friendly group I go in front of, but I always accept their invitations and have developed some friends there. However starting the event off with the stench of racism is not something that I have any patience for. While I was tempted to walk out of the room and event, I decided to instead stay and make a point.

    I sat in disbelief as a member of the RAB got up and told an anti-Mexican joke to the laughter of some in the crowd and the jaw dropping amazement of others. What an embarrassment to our community that this can happen at a candidate forum. Compounding my disbelief was the passing glance that the executive director made after the comment. I was further stunned that as the event began, the moderator (Jerry Williams, who I have great respect for) again pretended as if this hadn’t happened.

    I changed my open remarks, I talked about how I have always been an outsider, I talked about my commitment to smart growth, I gave a little bit of my biography. Then I mentioned that I was also the person that will say things that are unpopular. I then proceed to explain that anti-Mexican jokes are not OK in our community. And I assure you the joke was as dumb as the sentiment it reflected. I explained that the RAB has a reputation as a “good old boys” club and these comments do nothing to eliminate that stigma. I stated that I am a city council member that stands to represent the very people that they can have a laugh at. I also explained that it is not OK for organization staff or the moderator to just glance over these comments. At the conclusion of my remarks, you could have heard a pin drop. As I looked around the room I was also happy to see some people nodding in agreement, but many more in stunned silence. And still not a comment from the RAB staff or moderator or other candidates. Very disappointing…

    And then the forum continued, some people gave pandering answers to loaded questions, others spoke more honestly. My opponent, and Mark Bilderback did well. My positions on issues were different from my opponents on neighborhoods, CUDE, Historic Preservation, Parkland Dedication, and Developer Subsidies. I would venture to say that his answers were more popular than mine in every instance. PJ Day lost me after he said that neighborhoods had too much power and had to be reigned in, and added he wanted to see money flowing back to help maintain his tri-plex apartment.

    If civility means ignoring racism, count me out. At this point I am calling on the Rochester Area Builders Association to publicly apologize for providing a platform for the racist comments to be made and to apologize for failing to address or speak out against those same racist comments in any meaningful way.

    I am ashamed for having been there. After my panel I decided to leave despite the event continuing.

    City Council Candidates:

    Thank you for your participation in the Rochester Area Builder’s candidate forum and listening to concerns of our members. We look forward to further discussion leading up to the election on November 8th.

    Below is the Rochester Area Builder’s official response from Executive Director John Eischen in regards to concerns that were raised during last night’s candidate forum.

    At last night’s Membership meeting, an individual from the audience told a joke that was offensive to members and others in attendance. I would like to apologize for any offense that the joke may have caused. We are and will continue to be an inclusive and welcoming association and we do not condone racism or discrimination in any form.

    Sincerely,

    John Eischen, Executive Director, Rochester Area Builders, Inc.

    and from Jerry Williams:

    I’m sorry this happened, Michael, and apologize for not saying something. Actually, at the time, I sensed it was more of an anti-Trump story than a racist one, thus my lack of a comment. Either way, the remark was inappropriate.

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  • 23Sep

    Dunlap & Seeger Letter on behalf of Andy Chafoulias 

    I recommended to the city administrator that this is a bad deal for the city of Rochester. It is far smarter for the community to plan for the area, and then determine a path forward. I would like some green space along with future development. I also think a developer competition is far better than direct selection. This discussion deserves some transparency.

    I am concerned about the note that the city council received from Dunlap & Seeger. I fear that a direct selection of one developer is not in the public interest. I also feel that we should not make a decision until the current St. Marys Place public realm discussion is complete. Further I believe that parks or public works would want some input on the use of that land based on previous discussion.

    -Michael Wojcik

    Michael, I may have missed it, however, I have not seen the note. Steve

    This appears to be addressed to you.

    -Michael Wojcik

    I have just located it in my in basket. I notice that it was cc to all council members. I will seek the staff input and schedule the matter for some review by the council. Steve

    I guess if I was not occupied during the day responding to a multitude of e-mail messages and requests, I may have more time to look at the items that come into my in box on my desk. Steve

    So here is what staff said:

    Stevan,

    My personal belief is that it is very premature to consider selling or disposing of this property to any party until we determine what is the best use of this site for this area. The property is the main entrance point to the St. Mary’s District in the DMC Development Plan and it has great potential to be used to enhance that area. That was the main reason that it was recommended for purchase by the staff. It was not my belief that the City was purchasing this site to quickly turn it around for development proposals through an RFP process, but to take some time in a deliberative process to determine the best possible use for the City and its citizens. It is my understanding that the City has full authority to determine how it may want to use this site in the future and is not required to convey the property to any specific party or that the City is under any pressure to move forward on this property at this time. I would wait and take our time and that could be more than a year in my opinion. It could be used for a project that makes an entrance statement for this district or it could be used in conjunction with some properties to the east for development purposes. There is no need to rush forward at this time.

    Thanks, for the opportunity to comment.

    Gary Neumann

    and:

    I concur with Gary’s response on this matter. I do not see the need to be in any hurry to make any decisions as to how best use the property, including putting out an RFP for development proposals at this time.

    Terry Speath

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  • 22Sep

    Since the vote I have been contacted by 15 people in the Folwell neighborhood 7 in agreement with the decision, and 8 against. Only a couple people making personal attacks, but still disappointing. That kind of division lets me know this needs some more discussion. I would be lying if I said that every concern has been addressed, they haven’t. However infill projects seldom are perfect solutions. Community and neighborhood benefits and impacts certainly fall short of perfection, however I see them as being greater than both the status quo and other development in the area. In addition the project has the support of 3 neighborhood association presidents, Imagine Kutzky, CUDE, County Planning, City Engineering, and several (but admittedly a minority of) neighbors living in the neighborhood.

     photo Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 2.39.40 PM_zpsrmkvwgaf.png

    Final Decision:

    Approvals are (or should) always be based on whether evidence indicates the development meets the criteria for approval. Not everything was black & white but clearly the evidence in this case convinced the city council, staff, and long time neighborhood leaders that this project met all requirements. Read more…

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  • 14Sep

    Edit: Thank you to Mike Anderson for some corrections that I was not aware of. They are in the comments, but I am also adding them at the end of the post.

    Here is the story of how the city participated in undoing an environmental mess created outside of the city. Even though the issues were caused by decisions made outside of the city, city taxpayers have contributed $245,000 to the joint effort to address flooding and erosion on cascade creek. A total of 3 major projects are planned for this area. Two projects are upstream and were aimed at reducing peak flood conditions. Based on heavy rain falls this year they appear to be quite effective.

    Stream Reconstruction:

    The 3rd and most significant, a complete reconstruction of the stream through the former Meadow Lakes Golf Course (recently annexed into the city). This project will return the natural winds in the stream and stabilize the banks. Previous erosion has contributed to sedimentation in Interlachen Lake (private) and to a lesser extent Manorwoods Lake (public and private mix). Both of these lakes have a fundamental design flaw that they were built with the stream passing through them. This coupled with the poor land use up stream has created a prolonged sedimentation issue. This stabilization project issue should greatly reduce the ongoing sedimentation issue. Cascade lake (public) was design to be spring fed and then drain into the creek so as to avoid sedimentation / pollution issues.

    Here is a before image of how the stream ran through the golf course. The section what was straightened was particularly bad for erosion.

     photo Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 7.22.36 PM_zpsmpgivagk.png

    Creation of 40 new acres of parkland:

    Here is an image of what the stream bank will look like after reconstruction. The area shown here will have a 40 acre easement what will effectively serve as future parkland. I would expect to eventually have the city trail system extended here.

     photo Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 7.23.20 PM_zpsfqwnnxft.png

    Hard to see in the picture, but the water in the new channel is visibly cleaner than old channel.

     photo IMG_8423_zpsixlybxl9.jpg

    The new channel is well constructed and planted to prevent erosion.

     photo IMG_8422_zps6na0bh3m.jpg

    Coming development:

    The Northwest portion of the golf has been approved for medium density residential and a little bit of neighborhood commercial at the intersection of County Road 34 & 45th Street SW. I was the one no vote as I thought  special district was more appropriate.

    The Southeast corner is more complex and I am not aware of any current plans. There are a number of complicating factors and I recommend a community planning process for this area. There are multiple land owners. Vehicle counts are limited and will require a 2nd connection. This 2nd connection will require a bridge over Cascade Creek. This is expensive. The cost requires many units to support the cost. In addition there are town homes that will have back yard setback concerns. Throw in some private agreements, and future left turn limitations from Berkshire Road onto West Circle Dr and we have a total mess. Probably the only way this gets developed is a grand bargain through a neighborhood scale plan. Unfortunately the planning department does not have the staffing to do this.

    Meadow Lakes Town Homes (North of County Road 34):

    Since they were first built, these town homes have required an expensive private lift station to feed the gravity sewer. In addition to the work being done on the stream bank, the current work will also allow for these homes to be gravity linked to a different sewer access.

    Mike,
    You need to correct a couple of mistakes in your “Meadow Lakes” discussion.
    1) Interlachen Lake (I don’t know about Manorwoods Lake.) was not “built with the stream passing through” it. It was a spring-fed pit. Cascade Creek flowed southeast of it. The old creek bed existed (I have walked in it) until Avalon Cove was developed. Some time in the 1970s or 1980s, Cascade Creek broke through into the pit. Apparently a decision was made (by the city? county?) not to restore the creek to it’s original route.
    2) Interlachen Lake is not a private lake. Although the land around it is privately owned, now that Cascade Creek flows through it, Interlachen Lake is a public waterway. It’s the same situation that occurs all along Cascade Creek. There might be private property on both sides of it, but it is still a public waterway. The was confirmed a couple years ago by the DNR.

    Please correct the mistakes so visitors to your web site are not misinformed.

    Thank you.

    Mike Anderson

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  • 09Sep

    The Miracle Mile redevelopment is an incredible opportunity for the entire community. Lets hope we do it right this time. Neighbors are energized and excited about the possibilities. Unfortunately proposed designs to date have left many concerned about both public safety and a lack of conformance to urban design principles. photo Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 3.09.11 PM_zpsn7nb3waz.png

    The good news is that everyone seems to want to get a redevelopment done, and there seems to be little concern about the added density on that site. Neighbors feel that TIF even beyond what is being discussed could be justified with a proper design. Patrick Seeb has offered to help coordinate work with the University of Minnesota Design standards to address Urban Design issues. Public works is potentially willing to consider a more urban design of that street. I would love to see the utilities cleaned up in the area as part of this and we have experience doing this with TIF.

    The most important facade is the 16th Ave side as that is what faces the community. Currently it is unclear if this will be sufficiently activated. What is particularly frustrating is that the long series of engagements offered to the Slatterly Park Neighborhood on the “Buckeye” project seems to be missing from this process. I fear there is an attempt to simply gain the support of 4 council members behind the scenes rather than have meaningful collaboration. I suspect that consensus could be reached by simply rotating the current proposal 90 degrees, placing retail on 16th and the grocer entrance on Center Street, and lining up the intersection correctly. However I certainly can’t speak for the neighbors. Further I suspect that this type of design would be more likely to justify TIF to help with public realm improvements. Side parking lots are common in for grocers in communities with form based codes.

    The proposed intersection of Center Street & 16th Ave SW currently suggests a jog of up to 15 degrees which is both unnecessary and dangerous for pedestrians, especially children, seniors and those with a disability. An activated 16th street will likely require on street parking both to service retail and buffer traffic. According to our bicycle master plan 16th should also get some sort of bike treatment. In this case, protected lanes running on the East side of the roadway would probably best connect cyclists to Kutzky Park.

    Here are a couple of fantastic images created by a neighbor. This design would fit nicely in the the available space.

     photo Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 2.48.30 PM_zpsrf0tvyje.png

     photo Screen Shot 2016-09-09 at 2.48.49 PM_zpsnhhasjyh.png

    This should be easy for the council to accomplish… Unless there is a majority just willing to ignore the issues and pass the development without addressing concerns. I would love to have an easy one for once… It will be interesting to read the staff report & recommendations as well as the actions of P&Z. Right now multiple neighborhoods seem quite concerned. Strangely the property owner Javon Bea has met with some council members but not others, additionally there was a strange attempt to hide his involvement with the project at a previous neighborhood meeting. There is no need for this as Kutzky Park has a history of supporting good redevelopments.

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