At last week’s county commissioners meeting, the commissioners touched on the new draft of the 2040 comprehensive plan.

The 2040 comprehensive plan began development back in 2016, and several meetings, studies, and public hearings later, the staff is ready to get approval from the board for sending the draft to the Metropolitan Council (Met Council). The previous draft, which was brought to the board six months ago, has been reviewed and a few things have been changed since.

The first is land use, which increases the amount of dwellings (i.e. houses, apartments) per ¼ ¼ section, or per 160 acres, to 4. This would only apply to townships that had already decided to exceed the amount from one per section, so this isn’t a forced change, but instead allows further development should a township choose to do so.

The land use map was also revised and simplified by the request of the Met Council according to Adriana Atcheson, planner for the comprehensive plan.

“We simplified the future land use categories, and there’s a focus on maintaining the majority of the county as agriculture,” she said. “Further changes may still be requested by the Met Council as well.”

The policy map was also updated at the request of several cities and townships to reflect their own growth projections for 2040.

One of the more important changes, though, came in the form of policy LU-20, a policy that relates to essential services, public services, and quasi-public services. Most of the changes came from the idea of solar energy being an essential service as well as essential services having to have a community benefit as there is currently no requirement.

Because of this, there were changes proposed at a Planning Commission meeting on April 16. Essentially, what this does is limiting private uses and adding in a clause relating to quasi-public services. This means that the status of solar gardens would change, and would have to have a community benefit. The benefit would be determined by the Board of Commissioners as part of the approval process. Solar would also be limited rural service districts instead.

All of these changes and more will be sent to the Met Council, and if the council approves will have to be approved by the Board of Commissioners.

A few concerns about this change in policy were raised. Karen Johnson-Leutner, a Hollywood township resident, pointed out that there isn’t much space left in rural service districts, and the ones that are available are in the western portion of Carver County, not the eastern. Dan Cook, a resident of Waconia township, also expressed worry regarding solar for the future.

“You had a lot of pressure on you,” Cook said to the commissioners.

Pressure came from several sources, including residents supportive of green energy, the Met Council and State Legislature mandates, and developers who saw opportunity, to paraphrase Cook. Cook also called for more communication and clear rules for both developers and residents.

Kathie Anderson, another resident, once again come before the board with concerns about the solar gardens and the language. Anderson pointed out that while solar is considered an essential service, only 10 percent of the output would be for the county.

After much discussion between the commissioners, the comprehensive plan submission was approved, with only commissioner Tom Workman opposed.

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