The Rochester-Olmsted Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the DMC Draft Development Plan, including the nine recommendations from Olmsted County’s Planning Department. A complete set of recommendations and studies from the Commission is available on their website.
We provide here excerpts for you from the nine recommendations:
- Action on the Plan: a. Is limited to a conceptual framework for physical development, transportation solutions, and financing; b. Does not change public policy, procedures, or the Comprehensive Plan, nor does it commit entities to financial contributions outside of that specified in legislation; c. Does not establish zoning, or prescriptive land use limitations; City zoning and development policies apply as approved by the Rochester City Council; d. Will not determine the design of integrated transportation, parking and land use solutions.
- The proposed District boundaries are adjustable, and should be considered nimble enough to be expanded to include infrastructure projects needed to support the DMC growth and transportation management objectives.
- Prescriptive land uses identified in the DMC Plan are reflective of a concept of how the District could develop; the specificity of uses is not being approved by the City with action on the Plan.
- As development proceeds and the Plan is refined, projects near edges of the District should be carefully designed to provide transition from the District to areas outside the District, to avoid creating barriers at the edge, and to incorporate inviting corridors for non-motorized travelers.
- Comprehensive and coordinated transportation solutions will need to be defined, committed to, and strategically implemented by public and non-public partners. Additional studies (see #9) should be pursued in Phase I since resolution and movement on these items is needed to support anticipated growth.
- Investments identified in Phase I that are intended to implement transit improvements or other investments that require further study should be postponed until after completion of further study that verifies route(s), modes, design needs, etc.
- Strategies supporting modification of existing building façade’s to be more pedestrian friendly and supportive of vibrant urban spaces should be included in Phase I of the DMC implementation.
- District boundaries can be amended, and should be considered for amendment when/where there are public infrastructure projects needed to support the DMC development, utility or transportation needs.
- It is recommended that moving forward, a number of studies and analysis will need to be undertaken to carefully and prudently move forward with consideration of the proposed transportation plan and alternatives for streets, transit and parking in the DMC project area.
Among the concerns cited by Commission Chairman Wade Goodenberger is staffing levels in the Planning Department.
Goodenberger supported, and the commission approved, conducting the recommended studies. However, he and several commissioners questioned whether the Planning Department currently has adequate staffing to complete the studies in a timely and efficient manner.
“If we’re going to impose the whole new workload on them … the council needs to consider methods to decrease the demands on staff,” Goodenberger said.
He planned to address the issue during a future meeting with the Rochester City Council and Olmsted County Board, which combined have the authority to hire more staff or consultant support.
At the same time, Goodenberger said all studies and evaluations would have to be taken under the context of supporting the overall plan and goals and to avoid what he called “analysis paralysis.”