LAKE ELMO, MN-The city of Lake Elmo in the eastern half of the Twin Cities metropolitan area wants to stay small–despite the pressures of urban development and the Metropolitan Council, a Twin Cities wide metropolitan planning and transit authority.

The Metropolitan Council recently rejected the city’s plans to remain rural. The council argues that as suburban development advances east to Wisconsin, such plans would result in leapfrog sprawl, put development pressures on neighboring areas and result in higher costs for sewer systems and roads. By 2030, forecasts show nearly an additional one million people will live in the metro area, which now has just fewer than three million residents.

“This is the first battle pitting local governments’ autonomy against the authority of the Metropolitan Council,” writes Gregory Munson and David Sellergren, real estate attorneys with Fredrikson & Byron, a Minneapolis law firm, who recently wrote an article on the case.

Minnesota law gives the Metropolitan Council the authority to require local governmental units to modify comprehensive plans that may have a substantial impact on community development.

An administrative law judge has agreed with the council’s stand that the Metropolitan Council had the authority to force the city to modify its plan to allow denser development.

This week, the city appealed that decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

Lake Elmo shies away from high-density development and favors houses on large lots, as do some other Twin Cities communities, such as Afton, North Oaks and Sunfish Lake. The cities say they want to preserve the peaceful, rural feel of single-family houses on large lots.

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