Rybak seeks ‘new voices’ on Planning Commission

Mayor R.T. Rybak has nominated two newcomers to the city's Planning Commission.

Rybak has tapped two Southwest residents, Lara Norkus-Crampton and Lauren Huyhn, for the commission, a 10-member citizen's advisory committee that advises the City Council on development issues, zoning matters and long-term planning, among other things.

If approved by the City Council, the mayor's nominees would fill two open spots on the panel - one currently held by Planning Commission veteran Judith Martin, who serves as president, and one held by Michael Kraus who has resigned his seat. Their terms have expired, but both will remain on the commission until new commissioners are approved.

While Rybak lauded Martin for her leadership on urban development issues in the city, he said he'd like to see &#8220new voices” have an opportunity to weigh in on planning issues.

During his &#8220Great City” forum on &#8220reweaving the urban fabric” earlier this year, the mayor encouraged people to apply for the Planning Commission. He said he has since been flooded with applicants.

Rybak said he hopes Martin will continue to work with the city on large, long-term planning issues.

Norkus-Crampton and Huyhn have been vocal in debates over development projects in Uptown. They were on opposite sides of the battle over Edgewater, the six-story condo development under construction on the edge of Lake Calhoun in Uptown that generated controversy when first proposed.

Norkus-Crampton, an East Calhoun neighborhood resident and chair of the ECCO zoning committee, has been critical of Edgewater and a proponent of controlled growth.

Huyhn, meanwhile, was one of the designers involved in the Edgewater. She works for Downtown-based ESG Architects and lives in the Kenny neighborhood. She's a proponent of environmentally sustainable design.

While the newcomers could bring a fresh perspective to the commission, Martin's departure would mean a loss of significant expertise in urban planning and design issues. She has been a commissioner since 1991 and has served as president for the past eight years.

She's a professor of urban geography at the University of Minnesota and chairs the Urban Studies Program.

The mayor appoints five of the 10 members of the Planning Commission, which are appointed on a staggered, overlapping basis. The group includes a representative from the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, the City Council, Library Board, School Board, Park Board, four citizens and the mayor or a designee.