Current RCP projects address core community issues

For over three months, RCP students and faculty from seven colleges at the University of Minnesota have been working on key issues of resilience in the City of Minnetonka. Current projects include:

Stormwater Management through Site Design | This project will provide analysis of stormwater management options and best practices as they relate to the Ridgedale Mall, which presents unique storm water issues. In turn, this effort will inform the development of a public education strategy intended to engage the public in advancing surface water quality protection.

Density and Housing Options Study | This project examines the relationship between density and housing types in Minnetonka.  The City would like to learn what approaches other communities have taken to provide a more diverse range of housing options for residents, with housing of various types, sizes, price points, and densities.  Students will research local and national case studies of similar cities that document strategies used to provide a more diverse range of housing for aging residents, young families, and recent immigrants; analyze residential "market leakage" into neighboring communities such as Plymouth or Eden Prairie; and research and evaluate various alternatives to smaller-lot and new methods of subdivision.

Stormwater and Illicit Discharge Management and Training | This project includes an audit of City of Minnetonka ordinances related to stormwater discharge in the context of local watershed, State of Minnesota, and federal regulations, and recommends changes to the City's regulations based on this analysis.  Goals of the project include identifying specific illicit discharge and other stormwater issues to reduce stormwater pollution, strengthening and integrating existing City stormwater management regulations, and streamlining the stormwater permitting process for project to create a one-stop permit that satisfies both City and watershed district requirements.

Post Development Critique | The Minnetonka Planning Division routinely works with developers, and reviews and manages development projects in the community, some of which are initially contentious with neighbors who live nearby.  Objections to the projects range from concerns about density and traffic to potential negative impacts on natural resources or community character.  This project would revisit three past developments--the Glen Lake Redevelopment Project, the Crest Ridge Corporate Center, and the Goodwill Industries Development--that were contentious at the time the projects were under review.  The goal is to determine, several years after development, if community goals were met, neighborhood concerns addressed, and whether developments remain controversial.

Water and Energy Conservation and Surface Water Protection | Many businesses and industries in Minnetonka use and discharge a significant amount of water and use large amounts of energy as part of their operations. This project develops an education and training program to assist businesses in the community to address water and energy conservation and surface water protection through their operations and site management. To inform development of the program, students will create a cast study based on collaboration with a Minnetonka-based company, including a cost analysis to assess the potential impact of pollution prevention strategies on the company's bottom line.

Conservation Development Standards | Conservation development approaches encourage sustainable development techniques that protect natural environmental features, preserve open space, protect natural habitats for wildlife, and maintain rural character.  This project examines the City of Minnetonka's conservation development scorecard to assess its effectiveness in evaluating previous and proposed conservation developments.  Student work will focus on whether the scorecard is influential in encouraging conservation strategies as part of development projects, and make recommendations of additional strategies and practices that could be advanced in a revised version of the scorecard.

Water Resources Prioritization Plan | The City of Minnetonka contains a large number of lakes, creeks, and wetlands.  However, the city has only limited financial resources to support preservation and restoration projects.  The city would like assistance determining how financial resources should best be allocated to preserve high-quality water resources and restore high-priority impaired waters.  This project will develop a prioritization plan to guide such investment.

Neighborhood Identities Project |  Minnetonka has many neighborhoods with unique identities.  However, neighborhood representation varies widely--from a few formal neighborhood organizations to numerous informal associations and, in many cases, no organizational representation at all.  Residents would benefit from the creation of distinct neighborhood identities and formal neighborhood associations in three ways: more formal representation of their interests and concerns in future small area planning; a greater sense of place fostered by identification with their own geographic neighborhood; and a stronger sense of community fostered by more frequent socializing and interaction with neighbors.  This project surveys existing neighborhood associations in Minnetonka to help the city understand what they do and how they function, as well as research local and national models for fashioning neighborhood identities and facilitating the creation of neighborhood organizations.

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