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Afton Planning Commission to eye open space issues

A new type of open space could be coming to Afton.

Afton City Council discussed different possibilities for the Manning Avenue Corridor Overlay District during its Dec. 17 meeting.

For the past several months, Afton Planning Commission has been working on developing the Manning Avenue Corridor Overlay District, which would provide for agri-tourism uses as a possible safeguard against annexation.

However, earlier this month at a workshop, City Council discussed possible alternatives to the agri-tourism uses in order to strengthen the safeguards even more.

One alternative raised by City Council related to the development of an open space ordinance, which would allow for increased development with the condition that a portion of the land would need to be put into a conservation easement.

During last Tuesday’s meeting, City Council identified a list of goals that members would like the Planning Commission to consider.

Council Member Bill Palmquist said he would like Planning Commission to review the city’s Cedar Bluff development as a possible template for how an open space development could function.

Palmquist also said he would still like to see the agri-tourism component remain a part of the overlay district.

Council Member and acting Mayor Joe Richter said he would like Planning Commission to pay close attention to how an open space development ordinance could potentially impact the city’s one per 10 density.

Council Member Peg Nolz said she would like more information on whether or not there are additional incentives for residents to utilize the open space development concept since she had recently heard that assessors no longer give property owners with easements any type of tax break.

Council Member Randy Nelson said he would like to craft an ordinance that is enticing to property owners.

“We should do what’s best for the city of Afton and protect what we can with permanent easements,” he said. “I would like us to come up with an open space ordinance that is going to get used because if it doesn’t get used, the benefits don’t happen. I’m not saying give the farm away, but make it workable.”

Planning Commission will continue the discussion this month.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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