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MAPLE GROVE, MN-Outgoing Mayor Robert Burlingame was honored by the Metropolitan Council recently with a Regional Leadership Award for “outstanding leadership in efforts to strengthen our cities and our region.” As mayor from 1994 until he retired June 30, Burlingame was instrumental in promoting numerous smart growth models in the city and across the region.

Burlingame also earned accolades for preserving a mix of housing opportunities here, making better land use choices, promoting transit and protecting the environment.

“Mayor Burlingame’s accomplishments in the area of housing are examples of his positive impact on the region,” says Saundra Spigner of Plymouth, a member of the Metropolitan Council whose district includes Maple Grove.

The Metro Council is the regional planning organization for the seven-county Twin Cities area. Burlingame was a public leader in several smart growth-related initiatives in the region, Spigner adds.

Maple Grove was the first community to negotiate affordable housing goals. Among his other accomplishments, Burlingame increased the city’s supply and diversity of housing types; promoted mixed-use developments supporting both commerce and residents; served on the Mayor’s Regional Housing Task Force; and helped develop the Arbor Lakes”urban village” project. In addition, he created a long-range vision for reclaiming Maple Grove’s gravel-mining area; helped guide the Northwest Corridor Partnership for long-range planning along Hwy. 81; and helped make efficient use of the regional wastewater system tosave public monies and protect the environment.

In one of his last major accomplishments as mayor, in 2001 Burlingame spearheaded the city of Maple Grove’s participation in the Council’s Family Affordable Housing Program, in which the city has committed to 20 Council-owned affordable housing units. Maple Grove was one of the region’s first participants in the program. So far, purchase agreements are in place for seven units.

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