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Zoning commission backs DMC's concept plan

Residents came to the Mayo Civic Center on Monday for answers, but left with only concepts.

The Rochester Planning and Zoning Commission recommended to the Rochester City Council the Destination Medical Center's development plan by a 7-0 vote. The plan does include nine stipulations, which state, among other things, that district boundaries shown to the commission are adjustable, prescriptive land uses are only conceptual and a number of studies and analyses are needed to move a proposed transportation plan forward. Before any future transportation plans are approved, there will be, at least eight studies.

Commissioner Steve Sherwood called the plan both grand in scope and gradual, with little specific detail.

The DMC district boundary map encompasses the downtown area, Saint Marys campus and the Second Street Southwest corridor that links the two. Infrastructure projects outside of the boundaries will be needed in order to support the level of growth projected within the district.

Gary Melin, of Rochester, looked at one proposed transportation route that would create a parking facility at the current location of the Miracle Mile shopping center. He worried the city would use eminent domain to acquire the land. Mitzi Baker, head of the city of Rochester/Olmsted County planning department, said no final decision has been made, and the plans are conceptual.


"My fear is that these conceptual plans will be implemented," Melin said. "Sure, they gave us a chance to talk, but I worry that it's already cut and dried."

Rochester resident Barry Skolnick said he wanted to know why none of the conceptual maps included the Rochester Public Library. Commission chairman Wade Goodenberger said there are documents that discuss the library, but also admitted the library is not on the conceptual drawings.

"As I look at all of these conceptual plans, I never see where the library is going to go," Skolnick said. "We put a food market in the conceptual plan, but not the library."

The library is not the only thing missing on the conceptual plans. Jan Throndson, of Rochester, said he would like to see the Mayo Clinic's plans for transportation routes.

"I came tonight (Monday) to get some answers, and all I heard was the word conceptual. That's fine. I'll play your game. Where are the conceptual Mayo buildings?" Throndson asked. "I don't see conceptual, but actual new Mayo buildings in Cannon Falls, a hospital going up in Onalaska, a new sports medicine center in Minneapolis. Those are realities, brick and mortar. As a taxpayer, I'm willing to help, but show me what's going to be built (on the proposed transportation routes)."

Sherwood said it's important to find ways to transport people effectively before discussion begins on physical development. Sherwood said transportation and limited parking are two big issues.

The commission also discussed when DMC transportation projects might start. Baker said most of the plans are still in the early stages. She added that further discussions on Destination Medical Center timelines will take place at the Destination Medical Center Corp. meeting at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Mayo Civic Center.

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