Business and Industrial Park planning open house

biz-park-sshot It’s been a little over a year since the City of Northfield and Greenvale Township signed an annexation agreement for 530 acres of undeveloped farmland. The concept plans are for the park are now being proposed. I got this alert about the upcoming open house from Randy Jennings:

The Economic Development Authority of Northfield will host a public open house to present concept plans for two important sites in Northfield and Bridgewater Township. The event will be held on Thursday, April 29th, from 6:00-8:30 p.m., at Community Resource Bank, 1605 Heritage Drive. The planning team, including representatives of the master planning consultants, Hoisington Koegler Group, Inc., and members of the Northfield Master Plan Steering Committee, will be on hand to discuss the plans.

There will be brief presentations of the master planning process and the concept alternatives at 6:15 p.m. and at 7:30 p.m. The event is free, and the public encouraged to attend.

Additional information about the master planning process, as well as a variety of maps and concept drawings, may be found on the project website here.

40 thoughts on “Business and Industrial Park planning open house”

  1. The Planning Commission, EDA, and the steering committee had a joint meeting last night, at which the modified concept plans were presented. They aren’t yet up on the HKG project website but I hope will be soon.

    1. Tracy,

      The concept plans reviewed by the planning commission, EDA and master plan steering committee at last night’s joint meeting are works in process. They have yet to be reviewed by the city council (that meeting happens next week), and are being revised at each step as new information is incorporated and feedback considered.

      The public will have its first chance to see the concept plans at the open house on April 29th. Drawings and supporting information will next be updated on the project website after the open house.

  2. Can you give more of a mini-report, Tracy?
    House guests prevented any attendance from this household.

    How did the Planning Commission react to the plans?

  3. I’m confused.  I thought this open house was all about the business park located on the property recently annexed from Greenvale Township… business park, singular, not plural.  Looking at the home page of the project website leads one to believe this:

    The City of Northfield is in the process of preparing a master plan and development strategy for a business and industrial park located in a newly annexed area in the northwestern quadrant of the City. The recent annexation of approximately 530 acres provides the City of Northfield with the opportunity to expand the land resource supply and create a vision for business and industrial expansion that will provide opportunities for new investment, tax base expansion, job creation and wage enhancement.

    The map on that home page features ONLY the property in the northwest quadrant of the City of Northfield in bright yellow. No mention/reference at all about the PROPOSED/NOT-YET-ANNEXED property in Bridgewater Township.

    Now I see ED Mgr Jody Gunderson has this in yesterday’s Friday Memo:

    The City’s consultants, Hoinsington Koegler Inc. presented three concept plans that had been developed for the north site, and two concept plans that were developed for the southern site.

    Randy, I see now a closer reading of the blurb above that you emailed me "will host a public open house to present concept plans for two important sites in Northfield and Bridgewater Township."

    So when did this become ONE park with two sites, north and south, the ‘south’ being the PROPOSED Bridgewater Township location?

    And what’s the rationale for this?

  4. Griff,

    It’s pretty simple. The master planning process was initiated when the 530 acres was annexed in the northwest corner of the city (the “North” parcel). The EDA hired HKGi to do the work back in September.

    When the owners of the Prawer-Gill land along Armstrong Road (the “south” parcel) requested their land be annexed, the EDA decided it made sense to extend the master planning process to both parcels, even though the south parcel was not yet officially incorporated into the city. In January the EDA extended HKGi’s contract to include this additional work, realizing that the annexation process is a complicated, and the final annexation is not guaranteed. The thinking was that whatever jurisdiction governs the land, we (the city and Bridgewater Township) will all be better served by a thoughtful master planning process that considers the development of both parcels of land.

    It is still two parcels, with very different characteristics, as you’ll see at the public open house. But it is one master planning process, which provides both cost-effectiveness and the opportunity to do a more comprehensive job.

  5. Randy, yes, I’ve understood that there’s one ‘master planning process.’

    My question is, why is it being referred to as one park when it’s really two parks?

    I see the phrase “3rd Business and Industrial Park Master Plan.” What does the ‘3rd’ refer to?

    And if the Prawer-Gill parcel was added to the planning process in January, why does the text and the map on the project home page not reflect that?

  6. Randy, could you post info on the EDA’s contract with the Hoisington Koegler Group Inc. (HKGi)?

    Page 7 of this November 2009 packet shows that the EDA budgeted $200,000 for them for them to conduct this master planning process. Was that the actual amount in the final contract?

    I assume that the contract has now been changed since the Prawer-Gill parcel was added to the planning process. So it would help to know what the new contract pays them. Please provide the links to the minutes/contract if available on the web or email me the documents and I’ll post them here.

    1. Griff,

      The information you want is easily found on the city’s website. Look at item 8e in the February 11th meeting minutes for the resolution approving the additional work on the Prawer-Gill property. You’ll find it here:

      http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/meetings/econdevauth/2010/02/11/ecnonomic_development_authority_meeting

      In the meeting packet for that same meeting, you’ll find the relevant resolutions and the HKGi contract, starting at page 29.

  7. Randy, can you post a document of all the public comments that have been submitted since the Dec 1-2 Visioning Charrette?

    There were 4 concept plans back then and next week we’ll see 5, right?

    So it would help to know what the public feedback was, both from the public F2F session as well as via the project web site.

    (The web site has a separate email form for each of the 4 concepts from December, eg: “Send Us Your Comments/ Comment on the North ‘A’ plan.”)

    1. Griff, Umm… the short answer is no, but only because I have no idea what you’re asking for…

      The information and public comments from the design charrette were made directly to the HKGi team and the members of the the business park master plan steering committee during the charrette, and has been used to refine the concept plans. Those revisions are ongoing as HKGi continues its work, and in response to additional meetings of the steering committee and other public bodies (e.g., the Planning Commission and City Council).

      The public open house on the 29th is the first public session since the December charrette. I am not aware of any other public forums or comments.

    2. Randy, the contract with HKGi includes these deliverables: 1) written summaries of all meetings including the public open house; and 2) tabulated results of the web survey.

      I’m just asking that these be made available for the public to see/read for two reasons:

      1) When public bodies/officials ask for public comment but don’t let the public see all those comments, it becomes a transparency issue. “We heard from the public and therefore we’ve decided/changed/adapted X. You’ll just have to trust us on our interpretation of what that feedback was.” I just had this argument with Mayor Rossing over her private email feedback process.

      2) One of the best ways to generate public discussion, interest, engagement in an issue is to have people build on/react to what everyone is saying.

      It’s why F2F meeting facilitators put up poster paper on the walls for people to write their comments on and then have participants read and add more comments.

      It’s why online meeting facilitators use a similar structure.

      So for those of us who didn’t attend the December open house, I’d like to see the written summaries of the public feedback made available.

      And since HKGi has opted to keep the comments on the project web site private, I’m asking that all those comments be published to help with the conversation now. No names need to be attached, just the comments.

      If the project web site generated few comments, then the EDA should ask HKGi that they revamp their approach since it’s not working.

      BTW, I’m not assuming anything sinister here. I’ve never delved deeply into the business parks/annexations and taken a position pro or con. I’m really coming to this with an open mind. But since the EDA is paying HKGi and you to run the public process, it’s difficult for me to get to the actual meat (in this case, the Concept plans) when I see problems with the process.

      1. Griff,

        With respect to written summaries, there is a thorough summary of all of the meetings of the master plan steering committee, and a tremendous amount of background information available on the project website. Since you are parachuting into the middle of this process (which has been underway since last September) and have an open mind, why don’t you first read through all of the material is that IS available, before criticizing what you think is lacking. Once you get yourself up to speed, you might appreciate the process more.

        Then, come to the open house on the 29th and participate in the face-to-face conversation about the next stage of the concept plans. This is the second of three planned public forums, and will include presentations by the planning team that frame the context of the work they have done. (Also, as Kiffi notes below, the public is welcome at all of the meetings of the various players in this process.)

        With respect to comments, I’m not assuming anything sinister here, but what gives you the right to ask to see comments others have made in private? An invitation to individual citizens to make comments on the planning process (or to write to the mayor) is not “public” comment, it is private, and it certainly does not include an expectation that the comments will be made available to you. Those comments are made to the professionals or elected officials to help them understand a citizen’s point of view and priorities. Not sharing those comments doesn’t create a lack-of-transparency issue. It’s basic consideration of privacy. If anyone wants to make a public comment, they can do so here, write to the newspaper, ask to be on your radio show, or come to the public forum.

      2. Randy, your philosophy is diametrically opposed to mine when it comes to learning about a subject. Your approach is like a traditional classroom teacher: “Read the chapter and then you’ll be more prepared to discuss.”

        My approach is the conversation salon model: “Let’s get some discussion going because then you’ll be more likely to be inspired to inquire/seek more info.”

        Neither one is perfect, of course, and in reality, there’s always a mix. But for most citizens, I’d argue that conversation (F2F and online) is a more engaging way in. And thus far, this process for which we’re paying $250,000 is lacking.

      3. Randy, if you don’t have/won’t share the written summaries of the public comments/feedback from the December open house, just say so.

        NOT the steering committee meeting minutes. The Dec. public open house comments/feedback!

      4. Randy, the phrase “Public Participation” is plastered all over the project website followed by “Send Us Your Comments/ Comment on the North ‘A’ plan.”)

        The email form gives no indication the email is going to any person, just “the City.” Here’s a screenshot of the form that pops up:

        This is like handing in comment cards at a public forum for the moderator to read to the audience and the panel. No one would expect that those cards are private communications.

        But to make it clearer, the site should really be more explicit, ie, “Submit your comment here for all to see. If you’d rather not have your comments be made public, tick the checkbox at the bottom.”

        So can you tell us how MANY comments have been received via the project website?

      5. Griff,

        RE 8.2.2. Yes, I think all conversations are better when the people talking have some real information on which to base their opinions.

        RE 8.2.3 Public comments made during the steering committee meetings or the open house are reflected in the meeting summaries and minutes. There is no separate document.

        RE 8.2.4. Two individuals have submitted a total of six comments on the concepts presented at the design charrette. I’m told that the comments were about features of the concept plans or the master planning process that the commentors liked. That’s all there is. There’s no secret stash of web comments.

        I disagree with your characterization of the opportunity for the public to comment via the website. It is an opportunity to express an individual comment, observation or opinion, not to make a public pronouncement.

        BTW, the web survey has not yet been launched. It will go up after the open house, with the relevant drawings and background information that will be presented to the public then.

  8. Griff: Just to keep the info current on the HgKi process… Mark Koegler has said, from the beginning, that all meetings where his firm is participating with public bodies, i.e. the joint meeting with the Planning Commission and EDA last week, ARE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

    The public may not be able to comment at every one of these joint meetings, but MK constantly emphasized that the public was welcome to come and listen and watch.

    Yeah, fix the website; But if you want to hear it for yourself instead of getting the ‘regurgitated’ version, come to the meetings and listen.

    1. Kiffi,

      The issue isn’t open vs private meetings or me listening for myself.

      I want to know what the public feedback has been thus far and the contract with HKGi says they’re supposed to provide it:

      1) written summaries of all meetings including the public open house; and 2) tabulated results of the web survey.

      I’m asking that that info be made public.

  9. Let’s talk about this on the podcast today. As a member of the steering committee, I have a perspective to share, but I don’t have time to write it all down.

    Griff, when I’ve looked at the HKG website, it appeared to me that most of the information there is what I’ve seen as a steering committee member. Other than the one poorly-publicized meeting back in Nov or Dec last year, there hasn’t been “public feedback” to tabulate.

    1. Tracy and I went toe-to-toe on the issue on today’s radio show/podcast. Unfortunately, she got the last word. Listen today at 6PM on KYMN 1080am or wait for me to publish the podcast episode in the early morn. on Tues.

    2. After listening to the show (what’s with the unscheduled baseball game?) I vote for Tracy. Oh, wait, this isn’t a democracy.

  10. Griff (and everyone), I believe HKGi is presenting to the City Council tomorrow night to get their input before the public meeting on the 29th. If you want the inside scoop or advance notice or whatever, there might be something in there for you.

    After KYMN does their fabulous hyperlinked video index like they did last week’s meeting, we can post that here too.

  11. Tracy (and others interested in the business park planning),
    Although the open house is from 6:00-8:30, and the steering committee and planning consultants will be available the entire time to answer questions and listen to public comments, there will be two short presentations (6:15 and 7:30) that cover some of the context of the planning process. These presentations should be especially interesting to anyone who hasn’t been following the process step-by-step. The second presentation was deliberately scheduled for people who will be attending the Chamber of Commerce event at Aurora Pharmaceuticals.

  12. Griff,
    There is no video, but the materials presented at last night’s public open house are now available on the project website — http://northfield-businesspark.com) — including the presentation slides Jeff McMenimen used to do the introduction. There is a comment form online, too.

  13. The NFNews writes that the business park could bring as many as 8,500 jobs to Northfield…

    In whose lifetime?

  14. Nfld News article from last Friday: Draft business park designs unveiled

    One alternative for the north site called for smaller, campus-like developments, another envisioned larger industrial lots and greater road access, while a third was tailored for industrial agriculture research.

    Alternatives for the Bridgewater site included a possible nature center or environmental education campus and plans for light industrial or corporate office development.


    Bridgwater Township Supervisor Glen Castore called the open house constructive, and said he appreciated the responsiveness and openness of Hoisington Koegler.

    “There was a lot of open space, and it seemed like a lot of concern was paid to stream protection and wildlife,” Castore said of the plans for the Bridgewater site, which abuts two environmentally sensitive streams, an issue Bridgewater supervisors have publicly fretted about.

    1. I counted about 35 for the first presentation at 6:15, including some planning committee members and city professional staff. I had to leave before the second presentation, but there seemed to be quite a few folks coming in around 7:30, after attending the Chamber of Commerce event.

  15. I wonder how many people turned in comments; there were very few in the box when I left, towards the end of the open house.

  16. From the looks of some of the site plans presented at the open house, HK consultants are not as informed on environmental standards as we thought. For example, there was a holding pond on one of the southern site plans that was way too close to the trout stream. In a heavy rain, it could run over in that direction.

Leave a Reply