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Shaping Woodbury’s Future ‘Urban Village’

The Woodbury City Council on Wednesday approved several changes to a zoning ordinance that will impact how the urban village develops.

As Woodbury looks toward , the City Council on Wednesday approved several changes to a zoning ordinance that will help shape the area in the coming years.

Many of the changes cleared up language in the ordinance, and conform with changes to state law and the city’s comprehensive plan, said Janelle Schmitz, Woodbury’s economic development director.

But the changes will also craft how the urban village—a mixed-use development slated for the southwest corner of Radio Drive and Bailey Road—comes together.

     

The changes adhere to the urban village master plan and, according to a presentation from Schmitz, the ordinance should:

  • help create a community amenity;
  • open the door for a broad range of goods and services at the site;
  • foster a pedestrian-friendly environment;
  • ensure 70 percent “class 1” materials are used (up from 65 percent);
  • set guidelines for landscaping; and
  • use storm water as an amenity.

The changes would “give (the urban village) a different feel than a standard commercial area,” Schmitz said.

The council voted 3-1 on the measure, with Councilman Christopher Burns against. (Councilwoman Amy Scoggins was absent.)

Burns said at the meeting that he feared that the changes amount to “micromanaging” the development process.

“For me this vote was a close call. I think staff did a fine job meeting with residents and constituency groups and think overall we had a good, thoughtful process,” Burns told Patch. “In the end, as I weighed things, I came to the conclusion that the ordinance seemed to micromanage things to a greater extent then I thought we should.

“Unfortunately we chose to vote on the changes collectively rather than section by section. Had we voted on it section by section I would have voted in favor of many of the changes,” he said.

Councilman Paul Rebholz asked about the ordinance’s affects on driving in the area, and said the city should keep an eye on a network of roundabouts extending from Hargis Parkway into the new development, which has been dubbed “Bielenberg Gardens.”

“I want to be purposeful about that,” he said.

Rebholz also asked whether the new standards—specifically materials and landscaping—could create hurdles for developers.

Schmitz said the city wants to maintain certain standards and can address some of those issues administratively and through the planned-unit development process.

 

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Church June 28, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Just what Woodbury needs. Another mall that is 40-50% vacant at any given time. I guess using existing open retail space is just too crazy to consider. The same kind of craziness it is for a neighborhood to work towards selling an existing home that is foreclosed on when they can just build 20 brand new homes that no one will buy.
Eric Berg June 28, 2012 at 05:28 PM
I haven't had an opportunity to look at the new ordi, but the sound of it is good. @ Shawn--we're only at the preliminary plat stage. There's still a lot of engineering to be done, perhaps even a EAW or EIS needing to be done. Last I saw, no site work had been done...we're easly 1.5 to 2 years out from anything significant being built out there. . I could easily see everything south of Lake Road and everything north of 70th in Cottage Grove being part of it's market...It's an underserved market and one that's going to grow. It's true that there's a lot of vacant retail space open, although much of that is closing up. A lot of the higher vacancy retail buildings are in marginal buildings or locations. In some cases, the asking price/square foot might be too high or there may be covenants with existing tenants that block competitors from renting space. There's a lot more to vacant retail space that meets the eye. As far as adding tons of new homes, builders aren't building as many spec homes as they once did because an empty home does them no good. In addition, new developments are often phased so that too many sites aren't available (lowering site prices.) Also, the developer pays for infrastructure, so they only want to build in the areas that can sell soon.
Kris Janisch June 28, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Schmitz did mention that staff has been in touch with the business community about the changes, and is trying to handle some things administratively instead of having them "jump through the hoops, so to speak." So I think there's been a concerted effort to maintain a strong business climate on certain fronts.
Eric Berg June 29, 2012 at 03:49 PM
As long as the "right" hoops are there to protect health,safety, public welfare, etc., I don't have a problem with removing ones that are onerous or superfluous. I think that increasing the build quality (materials) of the structures is important. The only way that you continue to be a quality community is to keep improving things. I've helped fight that battle in a few communities in the past, and they've maintained tax base, prestige, and desirability (which is more representative of that concept than of myself, BTW) I'm also a big believer in the idea of having an economic development staff that can shepherd people through the process, particularly small businesses. Larger corporations know how to navigate the rules and regs, but mom-and-pop stores and companies don't necessarily have that experience. Just to backtrack, it might not even have to be a city run thing, even if it were a Chamber of Commerce or similar professional organization that is involved with new businesses and the City to help with the learning curve. I think that Woodbury would do well to establish itself as a business incubator (easier said than done, I realize.)
kk July 02, 2012 at 10:47 PM
I cant really see the master plan well on my phone..but if it includes some shops, restaurants, gas station, sidewalks, and housing...i am all for it. With a family of six...we spend countless hours at bielenberg and i am so tired of having to always run to valley creek for food snacks etc. I am currently in dancing waters but would seriously consider building if the11th development turns out as planned and is ready to build within a couple of years. Ill have to find a larger version of the master plan. How exciting for south woodbury!8
Kris Janisch July 02, 2012 at 11:12 PM
That's correct kk. It is exciting. I think the anchor tenant is going to be a grocery store.
kk July 02, 2012 at 11:28 PM
That's perfect. Please keep providing updates if and when you can. Thanks!
Kris Janisch July 02, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Will do, I think there might be a site plan update coming in the next month or so.

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