letters to Open Forum commenters

Posted 6/2/21

City sends near identical ‘pro forma’ response They spoke, and the City of Cottage Grove answered! After several local residents and a prospective site developer each spoke May 19 during Open …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

letters to Open Forum commenters


City sends near identical ‘pro forma’ response

They spoke, and the City of Cottage Grove answered! After several local residents and a prospective site developer each spoke May 19 during Open Forum at the regular meeting, the City of Cottage Grove mailed at least five of these speakers a letter in response, with each letter effectively being identical, save the address and name information. Contained in the Council packet for June 2 and listed as recommended for approval, these are the responses, preceded by select comments from May 19.

“I want you to understand that this is NOT for housing,” environmental scientist Carla Inderrieden of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency told the Council in part May 19 of the Mississippi Dunes golf course property. “I know soils, and I know how rare this opportunity is,” she said.

Answering Inderrieden as a Grey Cloud Island resident, here is some of what the City had to say in response, through its Parks and Recreation Director Zac Dockter.

“Dear Carla,” Dockter wrote in correspondence contained in the June 2 Council packet. “This letter is mailed in response to your open forum comments at the May 19th, 2021 City of Cottage Grove meeting. As the City works toward master planning the site of the former Mississippi Dunes Golf Course, much public feedback has been received by the City Council and is being thoughtfully considered during its careful analysis of the future of the property,” the Parks and Recreation Director wrote. “It is important to note that there are many factors that need to be considered during this planning process…” Among these, it was noted, are the “many laws, policies and procedures” that had to be considered “when trying to balance the public land and habitat preservation with the legal rights of the property owner.” As such, Dockter wrote Inderrieden that “City Code 10-4-3 authorizes the City to acquire 10 % of the buildable land for a proposed development or take cash in lieu of land.”

Moreover, Dockter wrote to Inderrieden that the City’s 2040 Comprehensive plan marked the Mississippi Dunes Golf Course property as “Transitional Planning Area.” The intent of this designation, Dockter wrote, was “to acknowledge the need for additional planning efforts to establish future land use designations.”

Among the factors to consider was a 3M Settlement agreement “bringing a water main to the area along with Washington County’s Arterial Study,” as the area “is transitioning from its existing use to a developable area.”

Under the State of Minnesota’s current rules, moreover, “any development proposed with greater than 250 units (the Dunes site would be approximately 39) requires an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) to be completed. “This planning process is time intensive and will require review and evaluaton by not only the City but additional Local and State Agencies if the proposed density requires it,” Dockter wrote Inderrieden and others before going through a review of different sites in the Grey Cloud Area.

“The primary appeal to the Mississippi Dunes project is its’ proximity to the river,” Dockter went on. “But, it is also important to note additional planning areas along the river, so as to not duplicate public services.” First up in the review of additional planning areas was the Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area. See COMMENTERS Page 6 Mississippi From Page 1

“This property is 238 acres of restored and preserved native habitat that runs adjacent to the Mississippi Dunes eastern border,” Dockter wrote in his response letter to Inderrieden. “Although recreational use is limited to hiking only, it does offer a very unique opportunity for natural open space connection to any development and/or park planning that might happen at Mississippi Dunes.” With a typical community park about 50 acres in size according to Dockter, “any park located in the Mississippi Dunes should be considered a community park due to the vast natural opportunities available at the scientific and natural area,” Dockter wrote. Next up for consideration was the Washington County Regional Park.

“Washington County has a significant amount of land north of the bridge on Grey Cloud Island,” the Cottage Grove Parks and Recreation Director wrote. “The intent is to build a future regional park at this site. The City has been working with Washington County to begin master planning that site to assure recreational opportunities provided by the City compliment those of the regional park rather than being duplicative,” Dockter went on. “The City is happy to report that Washington County has been receptive to the idea and intends to start the master plan update in 2022. This process will have extensive public engagement.” Last up for mention was the Grey Cloud Island Development Area/ Park, including a proposed gravel mine in the Mississippi River backwaters and an Arterial study to plan a future road that would service growth in South Washington County, including at Mississippi Dunes. So what’s the word on that?

…“In doing so, Aggregate plans to utilize the existing processing plant and shipping area on the island while opening up the majority of the island for redevelopment,” Dockter shared with Inderrieden of a company that had submitted an application to fill out5 an Environmental Assessment Worksheet on a proposed nearby gravel pit. Meanwhile, “As development occurs on (the transitional planning area) with time known, a large municipal park with boat landing along the main channel is intended to serve both island residents and the greater community,” Dockter made known.

As to the arterial road study, it had many partners, including the County, Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, Grey Cloud Island Township, and the South Washington Watershed District. One route for the Arterial would involve routing the future road “through the former Golf Course property,” while the other “would utilize the existing Grey Cloud Trail alignment,” the Park and Recreation Director wrote.

“Both options call for new grade separated crossing of the SBNSF railroad, in place of the underpass that exists at the bottom of 103rd Street today,”he made known. And in the final analysis?

“We thank the community for the public feedback during this process,” the identical letters to each of the Open Forum commenters state. “Hearing from residents allow our City Council, Commissioners and staff to study this opportunity in depth and work towards a master plan that best serves Cottage Grove residnets now and into the future.”