Land use changes approved in Coon Rapids

Efforts by Victoria Jordan to change the land use of some four acres of vacant land she owns at the southeast corner of Woodcrest Drive and Egret Boulevard in Coon Rapids have finally been successful.

The Coon Rapids City Council Aug. 8 unanimously adopted a rezoning ordinance and approved a comprehensive land change resolution to make the land use and zoning of the property moderate density residential instead of office.

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 Coon Rapids Planning Commission, which also recommended approval of the latest land use change proposal.

According to Planner Scott Harlicker, the land use and zoning for the property has either been neighborhood commercial or office for 25 years, but it 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 four to 9.9 units per acre can be built, Harlicker said.

A moderate density land use is compatible with the surrounding land uses, he told the council.

According to Harlicker, there are no development plans for the property at this time.

Jordan plans to sell the property for development, not develop it herself, Harlicker said.

When Steve Thorson, the attorney representing Jordan, spoke at the commission public hearing, he said 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, he said.

There was no neighborhood opposition to the land use and zoning change at either the commission or council meetings.

Mayor Tim Howe said he had opposed the high density residential request last year because he did not think that it would fit the area.

But moderate density residential is compatible and “after 20 years, it’s time to make the change,” he said.

The only question came from Councilmember Jerry Koch who wondered if the lighting from the adjacent auto dealership might impact a residential use on the property.

But Councilmember Bruce Sanders said businesses use shoebox lighting these days that focuses the lights away from adjacent properties.

And Harlicker told the council that any site plan approval for a moderate density residential development on the property would require screening.