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Planning Commission: What will Worthington's east side look like in the future?

The Worthington Planning commission met Tuesday night at City Hall.

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The zoning of Worthington's east side was the primary discussion at the last meeting of Worthington's Planning Commission on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022.
Worthington City Staff
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WORTHINGTON — Worthington’s Planning Commission welcomed a new member to its ranks on Tuesday night, before launching into a discussion on zoning on the east side of Worthington.

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Mike Hoeft joined the Planning Commission, filling out the remainder of former member Drake Hagen’s term. After thanking Hoeft for joining, conversation turned to the sole item on the agenda: addressing the “hodgepodge” of zones on Worthington's east side, near Nobles County 5 and Nobles County 35.

Currently, the area is a mix of zones ranging from light manufacturing district, medium density residential, transitional zones, and general manufacturing. Current land uses include industrial and residential buildings, with a few single-family homes that exist on industrially-zoned property.

In its most recent meetings , the commission approved a change of zone and later subdivision of a property off of Nobles County 5, with tentative plans to see the space redeveloped for residential use.

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Currently, the area is a mix of zones ranging from light manufacturing district, medium density residential, transitional zones, and general manufacturing.
Worthington City Staff

“Staff sees this mixture of various zoning districts as problematic and would like to begin formulating a plan for how to best invest in the development of this area,” City Planner Matt Selof explained. With that in mind, the city’s primary goals for the area are to have zoning in a more “consistent and logical manner,” reduce potential land use conflicts that may arise as a result of current zoning, promote growth in this area of town and ease the barriers to development there.

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Additionally, exploring the zoning of this area provides city staff an opportunity to “lay the groundwork,” for the updated comprehensive plan, which Selof has mentioned in previous Worthington City Council and Planning Commission meetings.

As discussions began, Hoeft pointed out that as warehouse business continues to expand, there is potential for a warehouse district to the east of the outlined area, which could benefit from further industrial development near Nobles County 35 and Minnesota 60.

However, commission member Andy Berg pointed out that much of that area has been available for industrial development, with limited interest.

“I think there’s a greater push for residential development in that area, more than there is industrial,” Berg noted. “It’s sat vacant for this long…and we're looking for spots for houses to go.”

In line with residential development, commission member Erin Schutte Wadzinski asked if there was potential to develop amenities in the area, such as a park, in order to make it more attractive for potential residents, and if the infrastructure existed along Nobles County 5 and Minnesota 60 to support more residential homes.

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Current land uses include industrial and residential buildings, with a few single-family homes that exist on industrially zoned property.
Worthington City Staff

While no official action was taken, and Selof asked the commission to continue with considerations and questions they would have about rezoning, it was suggested that the corridor to the east of Nobles County 5 was a good candidate for being rezoned as residential down the line.

Similarly, developing more residential area south of Nobles County 35 was also suggested, to an extent. Selof noted that the the east-most part of that section would likely stay industrial as it is currently occupied by Ridley Block USA, and transition zones should be taken into consideration as that business continues to expand.

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Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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