‘What a May'; Lake Elmo celebrates end of Met Council sanctions

If the old adage “April showers bring May flowers” applies to the city of Lake Elmo, those showers have been hanging over the residents of Lake Elmo for a while. This May, however, the flowers are starting to bloom.

During its June 3 meeting, the city council formally passed a resolution that would end the almost 10 year struggle to meet the growth requirements set by the Metropolitan Council.

“We knew, even back then, that this day would come,” Councilmember Anne Smith said.

During the May 28 Metropolitan Council meeting, a unanimous vote went through to terminate the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Lake Elmo upon the receipt of documentation of substantial completion of the local wastewater collection system. Lake Elmo has already committed local resources to the construction of the $3.5 million Lake Elmo Avenue sewer infrastructure from I-94 to the Old Village, thus satisfying the Met Council’s direction to grow.

“We were the only city under this contractual obligation, and now we are just like every other city in the metro area,” City Administrator Dean Zuleger said.

The MOU has existed in Lake Elmo since Feb. 27, 2005, and had imposed a wastewater insufficiency fee, which Zuleger said could have resulted in penalties exceeding $1 million if the city failed to grow at the rate the Met Council prescribed.

“We can now self determine our own growth and the pace we want,” Zuleger said.

Also during the May 28 meeting, the Met Council adopted its Thrive 2040 plan, which will drastically decrease the number of new residents to Lake Elmo that had been expected in the past.

“Previously Lake Elmo had been required to grow to 24,000 by 2030, and this will take us down to 20,500 by 2040,” Zuleger said.

“So we drop by 3,500 folks, and we have 10 more years.”

Zuleger also said the Met Council is planning to alter the number of per-household units from 2.55 for the entire metro area, to more specific numbers for Lake Elmo.

To aid in the city’s ability to pay for the increase in infrastructure, Lake Elmo had been awarded a $3.5 million state bond during the last legislative session, and the city honored the legislative officials that worked on the bill during their June 3 meeting. Present at the meeting was Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Mary’s Point, Sen. Susan Kent, D-Woodbury, and Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Stillwater. Not able to attend but still honored during the meeting was Rep. Joanne Ward, D-Oakdale.

“This bill was up and down, up and down, and when it came to the Republican caucus trying to hold at $846 million, we met with these lawmakers to try to get back into the bill,” Zuleger said. “We were able to get it in on the Senate side and on the House side. Everyone seemed to understand the merit of this bill.

” The state bond is administered by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

“We got our bonding documents this week, and we will get that money next year,” Zuleger said. “City Engineer Jack Griffin and I have already gone through this process with DEED with some other money we got in the past.”

Set for 2015 is the city’s Inwood Avenue Trunk Water Main and Inwood Booster Station project, a municipal water project that will supply clean drinking water to the planned expansion of the I-94 corridor neighborhoods, and is paid for by the state bond.

“What a May, what a May,” Zuleger said. “Hopefully June will be just as good.”

Contact Alicia Lebens at alicia.lebens@ecm-inc.com

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