The planning division champions the values of our community by guiding development and protecting the environment.
The city of Minnetonka planning division is primarily responsible for the review and management of new developments, subdivisions and redevelopment. The division coordinates the preparation of a comprehensive plan that lays out the city’s long-range plans for land use, transportation, parks and open space, housing, sanitary sewer, water and economic development. The division also provides information and assistance to residents, businesses and developers.
Within the context of the comprehensive plan, the division administers the city’s zoning and subdivision ordinances, which govern how property can be used and divided. The division makes recommendations to the Planning Commission and Minnetonka City Council on all land use issues. The division also acts as staff liaison to the Planning Commission, preparing their reports and minutes.
The City’s greatest growth spurts occurred in 1960-1980. Since that time development and population increase has leveled off. Minnetonka is blessed with significant natural features, wetlands, open space and wooded areas. 20% of the City’s land area is wetland or lakes. Even though the City is 96% developed, these natural features and large lot areas give the appearance that the City is less developed than it actually is. Most new development is redevelopment or “infill” development of previously past over sites.
The planning and natural resources divisions work with developers, builders and homeowners to protect natural resources when development projects are designed and constructed. City staff administer ordinances concerning wetlands, floodplains, shorelands, tree preservation, steep slope protection, grading, erosion control and landscaping.
Applications for development projects or building permits are reviewed, then planning staff works with applicants to ensure adequate setbacks from water bodies are maintained and other natural resources are protected as much as possible. When a project must be approved by the Planning Commission and City Council, planning staff include information in their reports regarding the effect of the project on natural resources. The Planning Commission and City Council often include conditions in the project approval regarding tree preservation, erosion control and other environmental issues. Planning and natural resources staff then follow up to see that these requirements are carried out.
The planning and natural resources divisions administer the city’s wetland protection ordinance and ensures development projects comply with the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wetland protection rules. Minnetonka requires buildings to be at least 35 to 50 feet away from wetlands, depending on the wetland type. Buffers of natural vegetation may also be required along the edge of the wetland, and erosion must be controlled during construction.
Planning, engineering and natural resources staff help protect water resources by administering city ordinances concerning wetlands, floodplains, shorelands, grading and erosion control, and landscaping. Staff work to ensure construction projects have as little impact as possible on water resources, and that citizens know how to manage their property in an environmentally friendly way.
The planning and natural resources divisions implement the tree preservation ordinance and landscaping ordinance when property is developed. Staff members work with developers, contractors and landowners to protect trees during construction and to ensure new projects have adequate landscaping. Several new developments have incorporated wooded areas that will be protected in perpetuity through conservation easements.
The planning and natural resources divisions and engineering department review grading permit applications, and natural resources staff inspect projects to ensure erosion is controlled and natural resources are protected during construction.