Guest Editorial:  Destroying the Plan to Save It

Eagan ThisWeek ―December 16, 2005


By Jim Taylor, Member of the Carriage Hills Coalition & Resident of Eagan


The City of Eagan has decided to settle its lawsuit with a developer who wants to destroy the City's Comprehensive Plan in order to turn one of our last large pieces of undeveloped properties, Carriage Hills Golf Club, in to a very large housing development. 


Unfortunately the City used flawed logic to arrive at its decision.  According to the City Council, in order to save the plan from change they had to change it.  Put another way, in order to save the plan they had to destroy it. 


The Comprehensive Plan is designed to develop a long-term strategic vision for the City.  It's so important that there are procedures in place to ensure that our City is developed responsibly and for the good of the entire community.  The Plan has been developed over decades and involved an enormous amount of effort on the part of past City administrations and countless citizens.  The current City Council has hastily decided it knows best and is prepared to throw away all this effort and careful planning.


Since Eagan has nearly reached build out, we're at the end of the "long term".  The entire Eagan infrastructure was developed relying on the comprehensive plan and plan process.  All who have invested in Eagan have also relied on the plan.  The infrastructure was not designed for nor can it safely and reasonably accommodate over 1000 new residents and another 3000+ car trips per day.  That's why the Comprehensive Plan has Carriage Hills guided as it currently is---open space.


Unfortunately the picture gets darker.  The City is trying to endorse this whole issue "under the radar screen".  They’re doing this by rushing it through the Planning Commission process and scheduling the Planning Commission hearing the week between Christmas and New Years.  Such timing could only have been  contrived so that those who would most likely oppose the City’s actions, i.e., the citizens of Eagan, would be out of town or too busily involved in the holidays to be able to effectively interject and raise their concerns.  The City and presumably the developer know (and hope) that the current schedule does not give anyone nearly enough time to reasonably review the developer’s amendment request.


When we asked the City to move the Planning Commission hearing from December to February they replied that they had agreed to process the developer's amendment request in a timely manner.  We’re okay with “timely” but not with "blinding speed"


By law, the City has up to 120 days to accept or deny an amendment application.  The amendment request was submitted November 28th.  Thus the City could reasonably have the Planning Commission hearing in February and still have time for the Council to review it in March. 


Last time we checked the Council was elected to serve the citizens and not developers.  We, the citizens, want more time to study this very, very important issue.  City Council---we’re still waiting for a reply.


Given the city’s hastiness this development process might lead one to believe that there is a double standard in Eagan:  one for developers and one for the citizens.  We would certainly hope not because this would be contrary to the due process provision of the Minnesota Constitution that gives us, the citizens, the same rights as Mr. Wensmann, the developer. 


If our Public Servants really want to act as the Grinch who steals Christmas by hurrying through this immensely important issue, it would come as a tremendous disappointment to many, many local citizens.  We just hope they give us a GOOD reason why.  The Mayor and City Council owe us this.  After all, we helped elect them.