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Woodbury growth estimates smoothed out

A revised Metropolitan Council population projection forecast is in line with Woodbury’s expected growth.

The new 30-year forecast, which replaces preliminary numbers issued last fall, indicates a changing mix of households will continue to increase demand for development in suburbs like Woodbury.

“There was a little bit of confusion in the end of 2013 when the forecasts came out and the Met Council seemed to be backing away from a growth trend,” Woodbury housing specialist Karl Batalden said. “We’re much happier with the revised numbers that they came up with that show the population trends again continue to grow in a healthy manner.”

Woodbury’s current Comprehensive Plan projects a population growth of 84,000 by 2030, while the Met Council’s old model stated a 78,200 number in 2040 – 10 years later, but still 5,800 fewer.

The new forecast released in February projects a 2040 population of 87,200, which is much closer to Woodbury’s predictions.

Numerous Washington County cities responded to the Met Council’s preliminary numbers that predicted a 900,000 population growth throughout the metro area with Minneapolis, St. Paul and first-ring suburbs seeing a big chunk.

The cities were concerned that underestimating housing and job growth would affect major infrastructure investments already in the works to accommodate growing housing demands.

“In the fall when the numbers came out we were quite surprised that they were as low as they were,” Batalden said.

Woodbury responded with “a significant amount of data” to share with the Met Council from a historical perspective where growth has taken place as well as current housing and job growth trends, Batalden said.

“Just demonstrating to the Met Council demographic staff that Woodbury is continuing to position itself to be a vibrant community to live in,” he said. “We’re making investments on the public side and the private sector is making investment on the private side.”

The original forecasts show growth that would have required major redevelopment efforts in older urban cities like Minneapolis and more established suburbs like Bloomington.

But the new numbers use a balanced approach across the board.

“Comments from local officials about the preliminary forecasts showed a clear geographic pattern,” said Libby Starling, regional policy and research manager for the Met Council. “Officials from suburban edge communities and rural centers felt the preliminary forecasts were too low, while a number of officials from fully developed communities were concerned that the earlier forecasts exceeded their land supply and growth capacity.”

The Met Council releases complete 30-year regional and local forecasts at least once a decade, consistent with state statutes, to provide a foundation for coordinated and consistent planning between the region and local units of government.

Woodbury revises its Comprehensive Plan every 10 years. The Met Council’s 2040 projections will not impact the 84,000 population number estimated by the city for 2030, Batalden said.

But the new 87,200 projection will be considered when the city adopts its 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

“The 2040 draft forecast does not impact the adopted 2030 Comp Plan,” Batalden said. “But it will certainly be one of the key inputs for the 2040 Comp Plan.”

Over the next few weeks, Met Council officials say they invite further discussion of the forecasts.  The Met Council will consider adoption of the regional and local forecasts in May.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.