Blaine may reduce park dedication fee to get land

Blaine may be willing to allow a developer to pay 2013 park dedication prices on homes developed one to three years from now in exchange for a 1.8-acre piece of land that can be used for a future city park.

Like other cities, Blaine charges residential, commercial and industrial developers a park dedication fee to assist with the development of new parks. Blaine’s 2013 residential park dedication fee is $2,813 per unit.

Capstone Homes of Ramsey is looking to build 74 homes in a development called Harpers Street Woods, which would be north of 125th Avenue and west of Harpers Street.

North of the future 129th Lane within this development would be a 1.8-acre city park. It is in a nicely wooded area and has a wetland to the north, according to Blaine Parks and Recreation Director Jim Kappelhoff. The new neighborhood’s sidewalks would connect to trails in the park, which would also include a playground, half basketball court and a shelter.

Blaine has approved park dedication fee reductions when trying to acquire future park space from a developer, according to Community Development Director Bryan Schafer.

In this case, Blaine staff offered to only charge park dedication fees for 59 homes. The 15-lot reduction saves Capstone Homes $42,195 off the bat. The park dedication fee for the 59 lots, based on the 2013 rate, would be $165,967. If Capstone Homes plats half of these homes in 2014 or 2015, for instance, it would still pay the 2013 rate even if the council increases it for others.

Schafer said Blaine also offered to change the zoning to development flex so Capstone Homes could fit more homes within the 30-acre development. He believes Capstone Homes would get five or six more homes out of this, but said it is difficult to calculate because the road design also changed.

The Blaine Park Advisory Board got the first crack at this proposal at its Jan. 22 meeting so it could discuss the park dedication reduction proposal. This board approved the proposed agreement, but put in the three-year deadline.

The Blaine Planning Commission will discuss the preliminary plat later this month and the Blaine City Council will address it in March.

Schafer does not think it will take three years for Capstone Homes to present a final plat for all 74 lots. He believes Capstone Homes will plat about half the 74 lots this year and the other half next year.

Capstone Homes owner Ben Minks could not be reached before this edition went to press.

Jeffrey Bird, parks commissioner, was open to being flexible considering Capstone Homes is looking at constructing 74 new homes in the community in the next year-and-a-half to two years and its other products in the community have done well.

Parks Commissioner Ron Leathers said there has to be some time limit.

“The cost of building the parks is not going to go down,” he said.

Another parks commissioner, Rex Markle, recommended the three-year cap starting from the time the final plat is approved for the first half of the development this year.

If Capstone Homes misses the deadline, the Park Advisory Board still wanted to leave the door open to negotiations between the two sides to either keep the 2013 rates or come up with a lower amount than what the rates would be at that time.

Not a new practice

The Lakes developers have been able to pay the 2003 park dedication fee rate of $1,700 per residential unit throughout the entire development. The city got land for the future parks of East Lake, South Lake, West Lake and Lakeside Commons Park from this agreement.

Blaine in April 2012 agreed to purchased 38 acres for the future Lexington Athletic Complex; the price was $2.2 million.

However, the city only paid $800,000 at closing and the remaining $1.4 million will come from a future park dedication fee and water access charge credits (WAC). The developer would pay the 2011 park dedication rate of $2,435 a unit.

Schafer estimated at that time that the $1.4 million credit for park dedication fees and WAC would come when the first two-thirds of the development was platted. The remaining homes would face the current charges.

According to Schafer, a 1.8-acre parcel like the one in the Harpers Street Woods development would be worth $75,000 to $80,000.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]