Sunday, April 02, 2006

Whatever Happened To Planning? I’ll Tell Ya

In last Sunday’s Editorial page of the Star Tribune, there was a rather scathing article about two developments supposedly “off the grid”; the Vikings Stadium in Blaine and Target’s Expansion in Brooklyn Park. According to the article, these two projects are considered prime examples of fringe development. Fringe development is implied from the “off the grid” comment in the article.

First off, both Brooklyn Park and Blaine, although about 15-20 minutes from Minneapolis, are not outside of the 7-county Metro and are in the Metro Urban Service Area or MUSA line created by the Metropolitan Council to limit development outside of the 7-county metro. The author suggests that the council should be monitoring projects like these more closely and provide special treatment or incentive for projects locating along transit lines both existing and proposed.

While I like the Tribune’s opinion on the need of investment in public transit, I think the choice of projects is a little unjustified. Target Corporation has been in Brooklyn Park for a long time. The BP is my hometown, and there has been a lot of excitement generated around Target’s expansion of their corporate campus and the development that it will bring to Brooklyn Park.

I take offense to the notion that this project will generate sprawl. Cities that should be criticized for inducing sprawl should be Champlin Park, which has done a terrible job of curbing their rate of expansion. Meanwhile, Brooklyn Park has experienced growth over the past 30 years gradually by opening up parcels of land for developers every 10 years. This has allowed for a diverse housing stock and the potential for investment in new housing. With Target Expanding, the value of housing here will increase, great for current home owners, and it will put pressure to finish crucial transportation infrastructure such as highway 610, and redevelop areas of Brooklyn Park such as the apartments at Zane and continue the Village North redevelopment site.

Plus, the Target Expansion in Brooklyn Park is right next door to Coon Rapids; a stop along the Northstar Commuter Rail line. Perhaps, Metro Transit or Target could run a shuttle from the station to the campus?

As for development that should be criticized, how about the rapid growth that is happening beyond the MUSA line, and out further beyond the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Council? The council dictates development inside the 7-county metro or what is known as the existing Twin Cities MSA but anything outside of it, is up to the people working in Greater Minnesota.

As for the Viking Stadium, I sort of agree. However, the stadium could do well if done right. Personally I would rather see the Vikings remain in downtown Minneapolis and the Metrodome site be redeveloped, however, if Blaine can benefit from the new investment brought by the stadium who are we to stop them?

As for the proposed “extra credit” for development locating near existing or proposed transitways, what would the extra credit be in the form of? Tax breaks? Not likely. Reduction of fees? Try again. I suggest the Star Tribune propose some forms of incentives and stop picking on Brooklyn Park and the Target Expansion.


Kristen said...

In that editorial they said "sprawl costs money". Are they referring to commuters and gasoline as being the issue with money? Didn't you say that Dassel is a prime example of sprawl? Is the editorial saying that the movement of people into rural/suburban Minnesota is a bad thing? Interesting Star Tribune editorial and intersting response. P.S. I updated my blog.

Andrew said...

Sprawl does cost money in terms of gasoline consumption and commuting costs such as time. However, that is for the individual consumer. For cities, the problem with sprawl is the form of the landscape that is created by sprawl: congested highways, homogenious housing stock, very low densities, destruction of agricultural lands etc.
So in a way, yes, people moving from the cities to the "fringe" as it were and building large homes in what was once agricultural lands is upsetting to some.