Blaine City Council members recently learned the next six to nine months will be a busy time when it comes to reviewing growing housing development numbers.
An overview of the city’s current residential lot inventory and pending development proposals were part of a 2012-2013 residential preview presented May 10.
“We anticipate a fair amount of development, particularly residential lots, in the next several months,” said Bryan Schafer, community development director.
According to Schafer, 1,597 homes were built in Blaine from 2007 to the end of 2011. The city is averaging 320 new homes per year.
Of that total, 1,076 were detached single-famly homes, about 68 percent at 215 per year. To date this year, the city has issued 100 home permits.
Ninety-two of those permits are for single-family detached homes. The city’s single-family detached lot inventory peaked in 2006 at 1,350 lots, a six-year supply.
In early 2008, the lot inventory dipped to 1,100 lots, a five-year supply. Seven hundred lots were available in fall 2010, a two to three year supply, Schafer said.
Earlier this month, the lot inventory stood at 360, a one-and-a-half year’s supply.
While pressure for new residential development is coming from increased sales, Schafer said last week only 132 single-family lots have been created in Blaine since the end of 2007.
Approximately 40 percent of the single-family lot inventory is located in The Lakes, Blaine’s 1,080-acre comprehensively planned community. The single-family lot percentage mentioned by Schafer is not available to national builders.
Schafer said probable 2012-2013 residential development includes 585 single-family and 548 attached homes within five developments in northeast Blaine.
He specifically mentioned Woodland Village, Paxmar’s Finn Farm development, Legacy Creek North, Harpers Street North and Glenn Meadows as growth projects to watch.
“All of the builders we’ve talked to have indicated this spring is the best we’ve had since the housing recession started,” he said. “It’s dramatically different than last year.”
According to Schafer, Woodland Village is expected to add 85 single-family and 68 attached homes, Paxmar 120 single-family and 480 attached homes, Legacy Creek North 180 single-family homes, Harpers Street North 70 single-family homes and Glenn Meadows 130 single-family homes to the market.
During May 10 workshop, councilmembers spent the most their discussion time reviewing Paxmar’s Finn Farm development and land use plan.
“We’ve only just touched the surface [with this project]. Their goal is to have a plan approved so they can start work in 2013,” Schafer said.
Paxmar’s land use plan includes about 35 acres of commercial, he said. “It’s commercial around the edges, and high density, medium and low density housing in spots,” Schafer said.
Councilmember Dave Clark asked Schafer what was going to happen to the Finn Farm barn, which was built in 1926 and remains as a historic Blaine landmark.
“Short of a [policy] sea change on the council regarding that issue, we are asking for it to be removed, or we’ll tell them it’s up to them to remove it,” Schafer said.
Councilmember Katherine Kolb asked if the barn could be salvaged. She has previously expressed strong feelings against losing the barn to any development.
Councilmember Russ Herbst offered a possible preservation solution in response to Kolb’s query.
He mentioning saving an agricultural outbuilding on the Finn Farm site.
“They used to use that smaller structure with a rounded roof as the creamery,” Herbst said. “They would store the milk in there until they shipped it out to the dairy. They remodeled the inside to make a one-bedroom with a loft and a kitchen and that’s still in pretty good shape.”
Councilmember Dick Swanson suggested moving the farm building to the nearby Lexington Athletic Complex for possible use as a park building.
Clark requested city staff research the cost of moving the building mentioned by Herbst. “If we are going to move it, I don’t where else you could move it that would make any type of logical sense,” Clark said. “It would have to be in proximity to Finn Farm.
“I’d also like staff to look at the possibility of getting one of the weather vanes off the barn and donating it to the Blaine Historical Society, [while] checking with North Metro TV to see if they could do a video.”
City Manager Clark Arneson told the council if the building was moved and reused, one problem would be bringing the structure up to current city code.
Kolb suggested historical or cultural grants for funding. “Maybe that’s an alternative,” she said. “It could house our historical society and be multipurpose.”
Tim Hennagir is at firstname.lastname@example.org