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Viewpoint: Long-term planning and public process key to Woodbury's continued success

By Mary Giuliani Stephens, Woodbury mayor

 As I approach the end of my time as mayor of Woodbury, I have taken some time to reflect on the community that I am so proud of. Friends ask me what the secret is to Woodbury's success and why we consistently receive national awards for quality of life. Much of this has to do with our commitment to planned, orderly growth and good public process. Most recently, I am proud of the effort community volunteers, residents who participated in meetings, and staff have put in regarding the draft City of Woodbury 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

Consistency in Woodbury's approach to planning is one of our strengths and the draft 2040 Comprehensive Plan continues that approach. The City Council directed staff to approach the 2040 Comprehensive Plan as an update to the 2030 Comprehensive Plan and not anticipate any wholesale changes to the vision and guiding principles of the document.

While the draft plan recommits to smart growth, economic development, housing choice, sustainability and resilient infrastructure, I have recently heard some misinformation about the draft plan. Specifically, there have been comments that a decrease in the planned acreage for areas of the city designated as Places to Work represents a commercial "moratorium" and a decrease of jobs in the community. That is not true. Rather, the draft plan anticipates continued job growth by increasing uses that commercial site selectors look for. This approach supports Woodbury's economic strategy of increasing the number of jobs in the community. The draft plan anticipates a large number of new jobs will come to Woodbury by 2040, along with thousands of new households.

I have also heard some misinformation about the process, specifically comments that it was crafted behind closed doors without public input. That is not true. The integrity of the process was critical to the development of this plan. The City Council first discussed the process in November 2015, kicking off an extensive public engagement process over three years, including:

• A resident task force to oversee the process. This group was appointed in March 2016 and met 20 times prior to the City Council approving the draft plan in July 2018.

• A community visioning process in the summer of 2016 by meeting with local civic groups, faith groups, schools and businesses, including a booth at Woodbury Days and two "coffee with a planner" pop-up booths at the City Centre Caribou Coffee.

• Proposed future land use maps presented at the Woodbury Community Expo in 2017.

• Three community-wide comprehensive plan open houses; a variety of neighborhood meetings with property owners affected by proposed land use changes; and a dedicated web page for the draft plan.

Throughout this process, the City Council, the Economic Development Commission, the Parks and Natural Resources Commission and the Planning Commission also reviewed various parts of the draft Plan. Meetings were appropriately noticed, InTouch email messages were sent to notify the public and a significant number of residents attended and provided effective feedback throughout the planning process.

The draft 2040 Comprehensive Plan sets the stage for Woodbury's continued success. I encourage you to review the document at woodburymn.gov/plan2040 or call the Community Development Department at 651-714-3533 with questions.

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