Andover turns down lot split request

An Andover landowner wants to divide his property so he can sell two lots to a housing developer.

However, the Andover City Council will not allow this because it is concerned about setting the precedent of avoiding the more extensive land platting review process.

Since 1977, the city has not allowed a property owner to do more than one lot split within a three-year period without going through a platting process. Community Development Director David Carlberg said he could not even find any records of people applying for a variance to bypass this city ordinance.

According to Carlberg, at the June 19 council meeting, the platting process is important because city staff reviews how drainage would be impacted on the property with the development and adjacent properties. Carlberg said the city does not review drainage plans for lot splits, so the builder would ultimately have this responsibility.

Councilmember Julie Trude said allowing multiple lot splits in a short amount of time would be a “piecemeal” approach to development. She prefers the platting process.

“It’s designing a city with no plan,” Trude said of multiple lot splits. “If you let everybody do this, the city would not look like it was an orderly, developed suburb.”

The applicant Scott Allen, who is the IT coordinator for the city of Andover, said his situation was unique. He applied for a variance to the city code rule that a property owner cannot do more than one lot split in a three-year period.

Allen said the developer of the adjacent Cardinal Ridge 2nd Addition graded the portion of his property that he wants to turn into two residential lots. This was done to avoid putting in a retaining wall, Allen said.

“The two lots in question are part of an existing grading plan, have been fully graded and are ready to be sold and built on,” Allen said.

Carlberg said if these two lots were part of Cardinal Ridge 2nd Addition, then these lots would have been platted with this development. Nobody on city staff verified that Allen’s property was graded correctly, he said.

Carlberg said the city would need to look at Allen’s whole property, including the section where Allen’s home is located.

Councilmember Mike Knight was the only one willing to consider Allen’s variance request for the two lot splits. He said this is not a typical development.

“It seems to me that there is a practicable location for two lots,” Knight said. “It fits in with everything else.”

Had the variance been approved and the two new lots created, Allen’s home would have been on an approximately two-acre parcel. Allen’s property is currently zoned R-1 rural and the city requires that these properties must be at least 2.5 acres. Therefore, Allen would have needed to ask the city to rezone his property to R-4 urban.

Allen would have also needed to apply for a variance to not have to hook up to city sewer and water. Allen said he was not opposed in principle to hooking up to city utilities, but he already has a functioning septic and well system servicing his home.

Allen said he is not trying to avoid the platting process. It’s just not financially feasible to plat two lots at this time, he said. Allen said the platting quote he received from the Hakanson Anderson engineering firm showed him that the platting process would be over double the cost of doing a lot split.

Trude said the council has to determine if there is a practical difficulty in order to approve any variance from city code rules. She said the cost of the platting process cannot be considered a practical difficulty.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]