City growth plan for Marion Twp. open for comment

By Jeffrey Pieters

A draft of a plan meant to guide Rochester's growth onto 4,300 acres in Marion Township will be open Thursday for public comment.

The state-mandated plan, called the Alternative Urban Areawide Review, is intended to minimize the effects of city growth on the environment and cultural resources of a largely undeveloped area.

Officials are developing the plan as the city prepares to extend municipal sewer lines to the rural southeast, an area roughly bounded by U.S. 14, U.S. 52 and County Road 11. The area will be known as Sewer Service Area 16.


The sewer extension will help homeowners with failing and substandard septic systems and wells link to city sewer and water services, and will enable development to start on potentially 2,800 acres during the next 50 years.

When finished, the plan will serve as a blueprint helping future developers determine how best to draw their plans to fit with developments on surrounding lands and to cause the least harm to the natural environment.

The plan "really gives (developers) a compass reading for their developments in a bigger context," said Barb Huberty, the city's environmental and regulatory affairs coordinator, who is in charge of developing the plan.

Thursday's open house runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Willow Creek Middle School, 2425 11th Ave. S.E.

Landowners and environmentally focused public agencies can help ensure the plan accurately identifies drainage patterns, wildlife habitat and natural features that should be protected or treated with care, Huberty said.

The plan also considers future developments' effects on things such as geology and air quality.

The city will take comments on the plan until May 15. The plan will be available for public viewing at the Rochester Public Library, the city Public Works Department, Marion Town Hall, and on the city's Web site. The Web address is:

Written comments should be mailed to Huberty at: Rochester Public Works Department, 201 Fourth St. S.E., Room 108, Rochester, MN 55904-3740.


The city plans to complete the plan and submit it to the state Environmental Quality Board by summer. The plan must be updated within five years.

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