In the coming years, the City of Minnetonka will have to tackle many complex issues. Patch asked this year’s City Council and mayoral candidates about how they’d handle some of the major issues facing the district.
Today’s question is:
- How should Minnetonka balance its existing character with increasing demand for different land uses, such as denser housing?
This issue is especially timely due to the fact that we have just received the Metropolitan Council’s preliminary projections for population growth in Minnetonka by 2040. Met Council projects that we will add over 23,000 new residents by 2040. That is a 45% increase over our current population, and would add 850 new residents per year every year for the next 27 years. I know that Minnetonka is a very attractive community to live in, but do not see any way we would attract or be able to accommodate 23,000 new residents in 27 years. The fact that a majority of our land area is single family lots with very established neighborhoods that are unlikely to change would mean that we would need to significantly increase the housing density adjacent to or as part of our established commercial areas. I do believe there is some opportunity to accommodate increased density in the Ridgedale area, in the Opus area around the proposed light rail station and in the area east of Shady Oak road and south of Excelsior Blvd. when the light rail station is operational just to the east in Hopkins. I do not believe those areas would be able to accommodate anywhere close to what Met Council is projecting.
I do recognize that we have an aging population and that a significant number of our single family homes contain either one or two older adults that during the next 25 years year’s will be moving out of their homes and many of those homes could be available for younger larger families, that could account for some of the projected population growth, but Met Council is also projecting an increase of 10,200 households in the city. City staff will be engaging the Met Council to discuss the methodology of their projections, and the reality of how many new households the city can actually accommodate.
Minnetonka’s existing character of large lots and open spaces will never lose its appeal or value. The current Council has chosen to focus on a perceived need to diversify Minnetonka’s housing options due to its aging demographic and to attract younger families. The Council is considering an ordinance to define single family homes in lot sizes smaller than a half acre. I am concerned that new zoning will not result in construction of smaller homes; construction of smaller homes is likely constrained by the smaller window of return on the builder’s investment. I will support following the Comprehensive Plan which guides for the locations of both high and low density housing and other land uses. I hope to strengthen community conversations and promote resident input on this plan.
At Large Seat A
Minnetonka has a recognized and distinct reputation as a community which values open space and the natural environment. I will keep that fact in mind whenever a new development-or redevelopment- is proposed. I will closely look at the character of the surrounding neighborhood and assure that the new proposal does not encroach on that neighborhood specifically, and on our City’s character overall.
Changing dynamics is a difficult problem facing the city. How to achieve fair balance in land use when sometimes generational choices are so different. Denser housing might suit young families. With both parents working and busy schedules for children, families often want daily routines to be simplified. On the other hand, many residents who have chosen to live in Minnetonka because of the separation from the city; the larger garden lots and stable neighborhoods want freedom from routine. To be away from the hustle and bustle of quick living. Then again an aging baby boomer population is looking for a different innovative type of residential retirement. I believe the differences are solvable. I can see a future including Multi-generational homes. Sharing of houses with long time friends. Protection of stable neighborhood ethos. Less isolation of the age groups along with Increased need for assisted living and nursing homes. Everybody has to be included. Multi-age living is an idea reaching its time.
At Large Seat B
One of the issues that I believe is important is balancing community development needs with maintaining our city’s natural environment. In the annual Minnetonka community survey, one of the areas of highest value to residents is always the city’s natural features, mature trees and park-like character. As we address the ongoing redevelopment needs identified in the city’s 2030 Comprehensive Guide Plan, it will be important to balance Minnetonka’s efforts to continue growing and remaining a vibrant community with ensuring that we do not lose the natural charm and character that makes our city unique.
I am running for the Minnetonka Council seat because I want to reduce our city’s reliance on residential property taxes. I believe our city lacks a cohesive vision and a common sense approach for developing our community for the 21st century. Working collaboratively with the City Council, I would like to develop a 10 year community development vision that wisely and carefully expands Minnetonka’s commercial base without dramatically altering Minnetonka’s unique character. The end goal would be to distinctively expand our commercial base while reducing our city government’s reliance on residential property taxes. I believe this can be accomplished without radically altering Minnetonka’s unique character.