City Detail

Background Information

City of Lake Elmo
County: Washington
Population: 8069
GreenStep City category: B
Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.): 21
Participating township, county, school:

GreenStep Coordinator

Jake Foster
City Staff
651-747-3908
City web page relating to sustainability/GreenStep activities:
GreenStep City resolution: Click here to view the file.
GreenStep City status and date: STEP 2 ( )

City Assessment Files and City Performance Metrics

City councils pass a resolution to join the GreenStep program and are recognized at Step 1. Step 2 and Step 3 recognition levels reflect completed city actions, reported and rated below with stars (1 star = good, 2 stars = better, 3 stars = best). The Assessment File below summarizes completed city actions in a short Word file. Step 4 recognition is awarded to cities who report a minimum number of core metrics for the previous calendar year. These metrics aim to show the aggregate, quantitative results of taking multiple GreenStep actions. Step 5 cities show improvement in the Step 4 metrics. See yearly data for Steps 4&5. Additional city data can be found by reviewing information on B3 Benchmarking and Regional Indicators Initiative.

Assessment File

Best Practice Actions Underway and Completed

Completed actions are denoted by stars.

Total completed actions: 16
1 star actions: 10
2 star actions: 4
3 star actions: 1

Buildings and Lighting Buildings and Lighting

Building Redevelopment {BP no.5}

2 star - Action 1:

Adopt an historic preservation ordinance/regulations to encourage adaptive reuse.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Lake Elmo recently adopted a new Planned Unity Development (PUD) Ordinance (attached) that allows for a 10% density bonus for projects that include Historic Preservation. In addition, a 5% density bonus is provided for projects that include Adaptive Reuse.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908
1 star - Action 5:

Adopt development/design standards and programs that facilitate infill, redevelopment, and adaptable buildings.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Allows the district to not only include retail, service, office, civic and public uses but residential uses as well. Renovation and infill of traditional storefront-type buildings is encouraged, and parking standards may be waived to recognize the availability of on-street and shared parking facilities
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908

Land Use Land Use

Comprehensive, Climate and Energy Plans {BP no.6}

1 star - Action 1:

Adopt a comprehensive plan or (for Category B & C cities) adopt a future land use plan that was adopted by the county or a regional entity.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Lake Elmo adopted its 2030 Comprehensive Plan on August 17, 2010.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908
1 star - Action 2:

Demonstrate that regulatory ordinances comply with the comprehensive plan including but not limited to having the zoning ordinance explicitly reference the comprehensive plan as the foundational document for decision making.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Lake Elmo has been working on reorganizing the structure of the City's Zoning Code. In the General Provisions of the Zoning Code, the purpose (Section 154.002)of the Code is to implement the City of Lake Elmo's Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908
1 star - Action 3:

Include requirements in comprehensive and/or other plans for intergovernmental coordination addressing regional land use and watershed / wellhead impacts, infrastructure, transportation, economic development and city/regional services.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Implemented intergovernmental coordination addressing various regional land use practices. The City has also adopted a wellhead protection program.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908

Resilient City Growth {BP no.7}

1 star - Action 1:

Limit barriers to higher density housing by including in the city zoning ordinance and zoning map:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City Council passed Ordinance 2012-63 on 9-18-12, approving the MDR and HDR residential zoning districts. The MDR district allows single family development up to 7 units/acre, and the HDR district allows multi-family development up to 15 units/acre. Additional information about these districts can be found in the City's Comprehensive Plan Update.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908

Mixed Uses {BP no.8}

1 star - Action 1:

Organize or participate in a community planning/design process for the city/a mixed use district.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City's Comprehensive Plan guides the Old Village Center for mixed-use zoning (VMX) to encourage a variety of uses that will provide opportunities for commerce, retail, entertainment, community spaces and housing, all working in synergy to drive activity, energy, and people to downtown Lake Elmo. In 2013, the VMX zoning district was created with the intent to facilitate development that is consistent with a compact, walkable environment that builds upon the historical land use patterns of the Village. It has also been designed to allow a wide range of uses and activities and encourages the mixing of different use types. The ordinance includes standards for specific development types with provisions that address the unique character of the Village.
In general, the standards allow a much higher degree of flexibility for building and activity in the Village than was previously permitted.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Number of parcels rezoned to VMX: 3 since 2013
Number of new uses allowed in Village District as a result of new zoning.
Number of mixed use housing units erected.
Density increase.
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908
1 star - Action 5:

Have a downtown zoning district that allows residential and compatible commercial development.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City has rezoned the downtown district to allow commercial and residential units within the same parcel.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908

Design for Natural Resource Conservation {BP no.10}

2 star - Action 5:

Preserve environmentally sensitive, community-valued land by placing a conservation easement on city lands, and by encouraging/funding private landowners to place land in conservation easements.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Lake Elmo has partnered with the MN Land Trust on establishing many large conservation easements in Lake Elmo. The MN Land Trust has recognized Lake Elmo as a leader in this area. In addition, Lake Elmo is nationally recognized for its Open Space Preservation developments. Please reference Section 150.175 of the Lake Elmo City code for more information about OP developments.
Outcome measures/metrics:
In collaboration with the MN Land Trust, over 20 Open Space Preservation developments have been established in Lake Elmo.
Descriptive File: view file
MN Land Trust
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908

Environmental Management Environmental Management

Sustainable Purchasing {BP no.15}

1 star - Action 7:

Lower the environmental footprint of meetings and events in the city.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
In June of 2017, the Council adopted a paperless city council packet policy to reduce the environmental footprint of these meetings.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908

Urban Forests and Soils {BP no.16}

1 star - Action 1:

Certify as a Tree City USA.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Lake Elmo is celebrating its 10th year as a Tree City USA.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908

Stormwater Management {BP no.17}

3 star - Action 2:

Complete a stormwater management assessment and be recognized for implementing the actions therein.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
On June 29th, 2011, Lake Elmo became the most recent community to win the Blue Star Award. Lake Elmo earns special recognition as the only community in Minnesota to score in the top 5 in each of the three Blue Star Assessment categories. These results place Lake Elmo as the third highest scoring community in Minnesota.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908

Parks and Trails {BP no.18}

2 star - Action 3:

Achieve minimum levels of city green space and maximize the percent within a ten-minute walk of community members.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Lake Elmo currently has 46.61 acres of municipal parkland per 1000 residents. In addition, Lake Elmo has 2853 acres of protected green infrastructure, comprising 20.1% of the city.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Along with Lake Elmo Regional Park, the municipal parks and open-space developments demonstrate Lake Elmo's commitment to green infrastructure.
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908

Surface Water {BP no.19}

1 star - Action 4:

Adopt a shoreland ordinance for all river and lake shoreland areas; reduce flooding and costs through The National Flood Insurance Program's Community Rating System.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Lake Elmo adopted a shoreland ordinance consistent with the MN DNR standards in 1993.
Outcome measures/metrics:
The Shoreland Ordinance has been very successful in managing development adjacent to the recreation and natural environment lake in Lake Elmo.
Descriptive File: view file
MN DNR
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908

Resilient Economic & Community Development Resilient Economic and Community Development

Renewable Energy {BP no.26}

Pending - Action 4:

Support a community solar garden or help community members participate in a community renewable energy project by:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
City Council approved a "sunscription" agreement with US solar to buy a subscription to a community solar garden.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908

Local Food {BP no.27}

2 star - Action 1:

Incorporate working landscapes - agriculture and forestry - into the city by adopting an ordinance for one or more of the following:

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Lake Elmo has maintained a dedicated Agricultural Zoning District since incorporation of the East Oakdale Township 1969. Lake Elmo is proud of its agricultural history, and considers its rural character as an integral part of its vibrancy.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Jake Foster (City staff) | jfoster@lakeelmo.org | 651-747-3908