The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 17, 2014

North Mankato downtown zoning changes are premature

The Mankato Free Press

---- — According to North Mankato officials, their attempts over the past 20 years to develop a large project on the Marigold site have been unsuccessful. It appears they are unwilling to consider that the problem may be the quest to develop only large projects on this site.

City officials are now discussing changes to the use of the Central Business District (CBD) as well as zoning changes in the CBD, R-3 and R-4 areas.

The zoning changes will allow greater density on smaller pieces of property. A traditional main street allows for modest housing located above businesses which city code currently allows in the CBD. The city contends that the proposed changes will accommodate the traditional main street character of our historical downtown.

There is clearly a disconnect between North Mankato residents, officials, and developers regarding the future development and redevelopment of our city. A comprehensive plan is currently being developed in an effort to reconcile these differences but is not yet complete. Such a plan should give us a framework to guide any needed code changes.

Any discussion about changing land use or zoning ordinances at this time is premature at best, appears to be an attempt to circumvent the comprehensive plan process and is a betrayal of the public’s trust in the city’s commitment to the plan process. If these changes truly are not to assist any particular project, then what is the rush?

Please contact council members now and urge them to “Just say no!” to any code changes at this time. You are also encouraged to attend the public hearing on this issue — 7 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at North Mankato city hall.

Barb Church

North Mankato