When new Farmington Community Development Director Sam DiMaggio began her work at city hall a few weeks ago, she knew the city needed a more visual progress report to showcase new residential and industrial developments taking place in the city.
“I told her I could do something better, and said ‘just you wait, I have something better for you,’” said Kalley Swift, city community development specialist.
She created a story map that allows developers and future residents to see the diverse housing and commercial developments currently underway in Farmington.
“We did not really have an online mapping presence and our GIS (Geographic Information Science) used to be done through Dakota County, but it is really helpful for those specific city departments, but also for us in community development because we make maps for our zoning,” she said.
“GIS allows you to map data and you can map the placement of trees in parks, benches and is really helpful in engineering and public works departments to know where your utilities, fire hydrants and curb stops are.”
DiMaggio noticed how Farmington has so many housing developments taking shape across the city, and she knew this story mapping would be a great way to communicate that online. Most other Twin Cities show off online development maps to entice developers and educate residents.
The story map intended for public use can be found on the city’s website via the government tab, the community development dropdown and the planning and zoning tags. Users just need to scroll up and the map does all the work, Swift said, to show off the progression of developments and neighborhoods under construction within the city limits.
“We have fun things in her like drone video footage, and you can see Fairhill (single family housing development) from April 2021 and then back to April 2019,” Swift said.
The city did not opt to choose an aerial base map, but the city wanted to use aerial photography to literally show a tree top view of development under construction.
The story mapping also allows viewers to click on housing developments and it links that neighborhood to the district Farmington Public Schools maps used for school boundaries and shows the schools assigned.
This new story mapping shows all the current commercial developments and the industrial park land available. Other city projects like the Hwy. 3 Corridor Project and the downtown sidewalk project can be seen.
Swift said residents will be able to track future mill and overlay projects in the future on this online map tool.
“We can show our ribbon cuttings and groundbreaking photos and information, and we will also use this internally when we try to promote our city to business prospects for someone who wants a high residential base, they can come in and see these developments coming up,” Swift added.
“It is nice to be able to highlight how many hundreds of single-family homes are being built right now,” she said.
When residents drive down Hwy. 50 and wonder what the huge plot of land will become, they can go onto the city’s website to discover a new active living housing development called Vita Attiva just broke ground at the end of Pilot Knob Road.
The city is now working to fill open spots zoned for industrial that are now vacant.
“We are really going to use the pull of all these developments coming in here in the area to really try to showcase our Vermillion River Crossing because these lots are all purchased and will all be within walking distance and will give a good customer base.” Swift added.
The city will continue to explore its GIS capabilities.
Swift, who studied GIS geography in college, has worked as a consultant to create GIS and CAD mapping on the environment and worked for the City of Burnsville and St. Croix County in Wisconsin.
“I wanted to get back to community development, and I have learned a lot about planning and zoning and have started on a path of economic development, as well, and it has been fun for me because I get the challenge of learning community development deeper and showcasing my GIS skills.”
The story mapping is intended for the community to engage and discover what projects are underway in Farmington.
“It also opens up the window for going down a map towards showcasing our parks and trails and amenities,” Swift said.
The city’s online story map is easy to share digitally and is compatible to view on all platforms.
“We are hoping this is the start of something bigger happening and this will be the first map of many.”