Rezoning, land use change for vacant parcel before council

The Coon Rapids City Council at its Aug. 8 meeting will consider the rezoning and comprehensive plan land use change of five acres of vacant land at the southeast corner of Woodcrest Drive and Egret Boulevard.

The council introduced the rezoning ordinance July 17 following a recommendation from the Coon Rapids Planning Commission that the zoning and land use be changed from the current office to moderate density residential as requested by property owner Victoria Jordan.

Last year the council rejected a proposal to switch the land use and zoning from office to high density residential even though it had been recommended by planning staff and the commission.

But at that time council gave an indication that it might be willing to accept a moderate density residential land use and zoning designation.

And Councilmember Scott Schulte, who had voted against the HDR land use, said during ordinance introduction July 17 that he had no problem with a moderate density land use.

Mayor Tim Howe said he preferred moderate density residential to high density residential, but wanted to see more information on what might be planned for the property.

According to Planner Scott Harlicker, the land use and zoning for the property has either been neighborhood commercial or office for 25 years and has not developed.

“Because the property is not visible from Highway 10 and the nearest access to Highway 10 is over a mile away, it is not very desirable as commercial or office development,” Harlicker wrote in a report to the council.

“It is a better candidate for a use that does not depend on visibility or access from Highway 10 such as moderate density residential.”

Indeed, Harlicker wrote that the property is located in an area that, with the exception of the car dealership that has Highway 10 frontage, is generally residential in character, with townhouses, neighborhood commercial and a park near by.

“Since the site has not developed as either commercial or office in over 25 years, the neighborhood has changed such that the applicant cannot maintain a reasonable use of the property under the current zoning,” he wrote.

Under moderate density residential zoning, attached housing at a gross density of 4 to 9.9 units per acre can be built, according to Harlicker.

There are townhomes to the west of the site and property north of Egret has a land use designation of moderate density residential and neighborhood commercial, Harlicker said in his report.

“Developing this parcel at a moderate residential density would also make use of the nearby park and the adjacent convenience store,” he wrote.

There are two small areas of wetlands on the property, according to Harlicker.

Attorney Steve Thorson, representing Jordan, told the commission that the property had been vacant for 30 years and was in need of a new zoning classification.

It has been up for rezoning three times in the last several years, Thorson said.

In recommending approving of the zoning and land use change, the commission found that it is compatible with surrounding zoning districts and land uses, would not have an adverse impact on the area and the times and conditions have changed, as well as the character of the neighborhood, so that a reasonable use of the property cannot be made under the current zoning and land use.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]