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Afton turning Manning Avenue question over to the public

Afton Planning Commission has finally had enough of the back and forth.

Planning Commission continued its discussion of the proposed Manning Avenue Corridor Overlay District during its May 5 meeting, however this time it decided to turn to the public for input.

Commissioners agreed to move forward with a public listening session in the coming months in order to gather feedback of what the residents in the corridor want to see from an overlay district, rather than rely on the constantly changing views of Afton City Council.

“I am so greedy to actually talk to the people rather than speculate what an Afton resident wants,” Commissioner Kitty Kilmer said. “I don’t know why we’re kicking the car around, but it’s made me increasingly frustrated.”

What are the options?

The Manning Avenue Corridor Overlay District has undergone a series of mutations over the past year  — first it was going to allow agri-tourism, then it was going to mirror the Cedar Bluff Homestead Development. Later, it a rural residential-style development was in play.

During last Monday’s meeting, Planning Commission agreed that gathering input from the public on what they want to see will only aid in their discussion because right now there are several options floating around and no one knows what the public wants.

For the listening session, Planning Commission said it will present five possible scenarios to residents: five-acre lots, a Cedar Bluff-style development with 2 ½-acre lots, a trail or park buffer and a preservation and land conservation development (PLCD) scenario, which grants developers an additional lot if a portion of the land is put into a conservation easement.

“We need to have a couple options to put in front of people,” Commissioner Kris Kopitzke said.

Planning Commission will also ask residents if they have any other options they would like to see.

Planning Commission will further plan for the public meeting next month when it discusses what language to present to residents and who to invite, whether that is the entire city or strictly the people who will live in the overlay district.

“They need to be included in the discussion because it directly affects those properties,” Commissioner Judy Seeberger said. “We want to hear from you as we wrestle with this process, which is going to take a lot of time.”

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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