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  • Jeremy Nichols

Corcoran Planning Commission Goals 2021

On January 7th, the Planning Commission meeting focused on goals for the new year. We were lucky to have the mayor and 3 of the 4 city councilors in attendence as well as the planning commission and city administrator on the call. I wanted to share a few of the highlights from the meeting to everyone is aware of the current though process of the council and commissions when it comes to future development.


The first substantial discussion item was a review of a list of the projects the Planning Commission considered in 2020. This was a long form list of projects, but the first draft didn’t have additional details. I asked that the commission work to add two additional sections:


  • Where have we seen progress toward the vision for the city in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan? What developments advanced the vision and how can be build on these successes?

  • Where have we seen development run counter to the vision in the comprehensive plan? What problems caused this to occur? Do we have the right systems, ordinances, supporting staff, and policy guidance to achieve the vision?

This prompted considerable discussion and will be helpful for the council to consider in its goal setting sessions on 1/20 and 2/3. Among the highlighted issues:

  1. Most development is done by 3 larger builders (Lennar, Pulte, and M & I homes) on large tracts of land at a time. We don’t have a diversity of builders active in the city currently. This poses problems for several stakeholders:

  • Owners of smaller parcels who want to sell will have a harder time finding buyers

  • Small builders have found it uneconomical to run small projects in the city

  • The styles of recent residential developments has not been in keeping with the vision for the city in the comprehensive plan, affecting residents


2. Natural resources protections are weaker than they should be, with development requirements not driving the preservation of natural areas at the level stated in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.


3. The development in the city so far has not resulted in entry level homes, which is desirable under the comprehensive plan‘s goal for a mix of housing types.


One system that can deal with several of these issues is the use of cluster housing models, like the one shown below, which sets aside considerable amounts of natural land, with association maintained trails. These developments are more economical for cities to maintain by having fewer, shorter, and narrower roads in portions of the development. They have the same overall density of homes as existing development models like Ravinia, Bellwether, and Bass Lake Crossing, but compress some of them onto city-sized lots to lock-in other portions of the site in conservancy arrangements.


Existing code has attempted to incentivize this kind of development in the rural parts of the city, but so far the development style has not been economical and none have yet been completed. It may be necessary to re-visit the bonus system as the incentive structure does not appear to be sufficient. There is no provision to encourage this in the urban portions of the city currently.





The councilors present also expressed interest in trying to get participation in the goal setting session from the planning commission in some form, which needs to be specified in the next council meeting. Several attendees expressed the desire to work collaboratively to improve the way development happens in the city through future working sessions.


Please feel free to contact with with questions or ideas you may have as we work toward making improvements in how we manage residential development. My email is jnichols@corcoranmn.gov.






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