Lake Elmo development causes controversy

Sarah McCarthy, Photographer

Lake Elmo has been featured in the news more than once for their upcoming changes, along with the controversy surrounding these changes. Although it leaves outsiders confused as to what is really going on in Lake Elmo. There is also confusion if these changes are positive or negative.

In Lake Elmo the changes that are occurring include adding of housing developments in the city, along with a few businesses being added. The growth in the city has caught some citizens off guard, and even angered some. These changes also impact local Lake Elmo businesses, along with homeowners. Some feel that these changes are going to change the way of life they have always known, and others welcome change and see it fit in the community. The controversy surrounding these upcoming changes is valid, but the overall development shows promise for the community. It appears that the changes will give Lake Elmo a new look, while keeping the same small town feeling.

I personally would rather continue to see farm fields in those areas, but also realize that growth also brings other opportunities as well. It is unrealistic to expect no growth in a metro location so close to the Twin Cities. Other families are looking for the same quality of life and neighborhood experience that Lake Elmo and the surrounding communities offer.”

— Francis Wallace

Some people believe these changes are going to have positive effects on the citizens and the community as a whole. Mayor of Lake Elmo Mike Pearson explained,  “To the degree that these changes have allowed us an escape from significant and impending 2015 Met Council fines, all the residents have benefited. Our downtown is in the middle of an uplift and the new households will provide a corresponding lift to our existing businesses. Our freeway district, having been provided municipal sewer and water service, should provide many jobs for our residents and an expanded tax base as well.”

Although on the other more controversial sides of things, some citizens feel that the developments are going to take from Lake Elmo’s rural feel. They believe that Lake Elmo has been a farming, rural community and should maintain that. What some don’t know is that the land once used for rural purposes such as farming, does not have the same use anymore. Edward Gorman, a local owner of Gorman’s restaurant explained that “None of the farmers in Lake Elmo are farming.”

Along with the lack of farming in the city, the desire to sell the farming land has increased. Gorman also explained why these farmers are selling their land: “They’re old enough, and they want to sell their land. And they are entitled in the state of Minnesota to get the highest and best use for their land. And the best use of their land is not to grow corn anymore.”

Along with the effects on Lake Elmo’s local businesses and public services, the changes and developments in Lake Elmo are going to have positive long lasting effects on Lake Elmo. Most citizens see the positives in the growth of Lake Elmo and are becoming more willing to welcome change. Lake Elmo citizen Maureen Tholen explained, “I think Lake Elmo is a great place to live and it won’t really change my decision on being part of this community, because I think we will eventually get to a good place where there are issues or concerns.  It makes it clear that it is important to voice your opinions where it matters to you through the appropriate venues – school board meetings, voting dates, city council meetings, etc.”

 Lake Elmo resident Francis Wallace explained “I personally would rather continue to see farm fields in those areas, but also realize that growth also brings other opportunities as well.  It is unrealistic to expect no growth in a metro location so close to the Twin Cities.  Other families are looking for the same quality of life and neighborhood experience that Lake Elmo and the surrounding communities offer.”