The post answering Monday's questions was put on hold as I was forced to do something last night I normally don't do: sleep. Sorry Strong Town advocates. We've got a lot in the works here - announcement to come soon - and so I have been stretched a little thin. I'll shoot for Thursday for the next posting in the Brainerd/Baxter ST series. In the meantime, I wanted to pass on this resolution, which was approved by the Pequot Lakes council last night, as well as the Strong Town analysis that prompted it.
To give the short version, the highway through Pequot Lakes is being realigned outside of town. As per America's recent development pattern, some were advocating for a commercial zoning along this corridor and the extension of municipal utilities to promote commercial growth. As the analysis shows, this financially is a huge loser for the city. There is no way that new development in this corridor - even if it did happen in the most robust manner - would come close to paying for the upfront costs of the city.
Congratulations, Pequot Lakes, on a Strong decision.
RESOLUTION REGARDING THE ZONING OF PROPERTY ALONG THE TH 371 ALTERNATE ALIGNMENT
WHEREAS, the City of Pequot Lakes, through numerous resolutions, has demonstrated a commitment to the realignment of Highway 371 (Alternate Alignment) to the east of the current alignment, and
WHEREAS, the future zoning along the Alternate Alignment has the potential to dramatically alter land use patterns and real estate investments throughout the City, and
WHEREAS, uncertainty over the future zoning along the Alternate Alignment adds to uncertainty in the economy as a whole and, in expanding uncertainty, discourages solid, long-term investment in the community, and
WHEREAS, the City of Pequot Lakes needs quality commercial and industrial investment to build a solid tax base, create jobs and grow the local economy, and
WHEREAS, attracting quality commercial and industrial investments requires a business-friendly regulatory environment, a stable rate of taxation and certainty over the future direction of the community, and
WHEREAS, the Planning Commission has undertaken a study of zoning alternatives for the Alternate Alignment and found that:
- Extending sewer and water infrastructure to the Alternate Alignment, and maintaining that infrastructure over time, would cost the City of Pequot Lakes significantly more money than can reasonably be expected to be recovered through additional tax base induced by the investment, and
- Zoning properties along the Alternate Alignment for new commercial or industrial growth without extending infrastructure would only induce low-value investments and would detract from the significant investments that have already been made within the community, and
- The City of Pequot Lakes has already made significant infrastructure investments and commitments throughout the community, almost all of which is under-utilized, yet must be maintained by current taxpayers, and
- A policy of maximizing the return on current infrastructure investments is necessary to pay for the maintenance of that infrastructure over the long term, and
WHEREAS, the vision of an economically strong downtown Pequot Lakes surrounded by equally strong and vibrant neighborhoods requires a clear and consistent approach to land use.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Pequot Lakes is committed to maintaining the current low-density zoning designations along the Alternate Alignment and, with that in mind, encourages potential commercial and industrial investors to proceed with confidence that this commitment is broadly supported throughout the community.