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Moratorium extended for 60 days

In order to give the city time to get back the results of the feasibility studies it ordered, the Lake Elmo City Council voted to extend its ban on building.

At their Feb. 17 meeting, the city council extended the development moratorium for the Old Village area for another 60 days.

The decision was made by a 4-1 vote, with council member Chuck Siedow voting against the moratorium.

"I don't like moratoriums, you all know that," Siedow said.

The development moratorium, which includes all of the land in the Old Village area of Lake Elmo, means that land owners are not allowed to develop their property until the moratorium is lifted.

This was the second time the city has extended the development moratorium since it first adopted one last April.

At the time, the city council approved a six month moratorium. But then in October, the city council voted to extend the Maritime for 120 days because it wanted to have the feasibility studies completed.

That extension was set to expire on Feb. 24, and the city has yet to receive the results of three of the four feasibility studies it ordered.

The four feasibility studies the city commissioned include a study of the public water supply, surface water drainage, traffic and waste water treatment.

The waste water treatment study was presented to the city council this week and two of the other four are just about completed.

The studies will determine the impacts of the proposed Old Village plan and development of implementation strategies to execute the plan.

The Old Village plan would create an overall blueprint for development of about 900 acres in the Old Village area of Lake Elmo. The land use plan breaks the plan down into areas that will be zoned for a specific purpose, such as residential areas, greenways, permanent open spaces, constructed wetlands (i.e. waste water system), commercial/retail areas, and public facilities.

Most of the development shown on the land use plan is centered around Highway 5 and Lake Elmo Avenue and is surrounded by open space that encircles the developed area, creating a natural buffer.

But questions still remain on some of the details surrounding the amendment, such as traffic impacts, feasibility of the waste water system and transfer of density rights. Concerns also remain about the concentrated densities proposed in the plan.

Overall, the number of housing units allowed in the amendment is not much higher than what would be allowed under current zoning regulations. But the amendment would concentrate that density in a smaller area and leave specific areas as designated open space.

Overall, the plan includes a maximum of 476 new housing units, although if minimum housing densities are used, that number would be lower.