Blaine approves new plat for housing

The Blaine City Council March 7 took action to move a 74-lot housing development forward and allow for some early platting to set the stage for an adjacent development.

Capstone Homes, which has an office in Ramsey, received preliminary plat approval to subdivide 30.08 acres into 74 single-family lots and two outlots. This development will be called Harpers Street Woods 2nd Addition.

Near this property is another 40.21 acres. Planning and Community Development Director Bryan Schafer said this will be split into one 20-acre lot for an existing home and six smaller outlots.

Schafer said the property owner is subdividing in this way so the smaller outlots could be sold one at a time to Capstone Homes when the developer is interested in moving forward on different projects.

Capstone’s 74-lot development

According to Schafer, this land was once part of a 2005 preliminary plat that was never final platted due to the economic recession. The property was most recently owned by the lender of the original developer and zoned for low-density residential.

Schafer said that the number of proposed lots is “within a handful” of the number of lots approved in the 2005 preliminary plat and the main changes are the addition of the park, the stormwater pond is a little bigger and the street design is slightly different.

Capstone Homes is proposing various types of housing styles and lot sizes, so Schafer said a rezoning to development flex is necessary. The council approved the rezoning.

Some lots will be 70 feet wide, while others will be as wide as 90 feet. The wider lots will be on the south side of the development to be consistent with the neighboring houses. The homes will include brick, stone, varying gables and hip roof lines. The minimum above grade square footage for a split entry or modified two-story home would be 1,500 square feet. There will be rambler-style homes with a minimum square footage of 1,400 above grade.

Capstone hopes to sell these homes for an estimated price of between $250,000 and $300,000.

Capstone Homes Owner Ben Minks told the council that his plan is to start with 17 lots on the southwest portion of the project this spring and then construct another 15 homes to the north later this year if things are going well.

Mayor Tom Ryan prefers Mink’s method of phasing the development to constructing all the homes at once. He said the lesson people should have learned is to build as you go rather than getting stuck with a lot of vacant homes.

Within the development will be a 1.8-acre park. Capstone Homes will deed the future park land to the city in exchange for park dedication fee credits. Capstone will automatically receive a 15-lot credit, which is a savings of $42,915. The park dedication fees it pays for each of the 59 lots will be the 2013 amount even if the final plat for the project is phased over multiple years. The park dedication fee could ultimately be $165,967.

Capstone Homes must contribute to the future improvements at the Main Street and Harpers Street intersection, which could include widening and a traffic signal. If the project is final platted in 2013, this fee could be $96,718.

Samuel Gubbi would not only like to see turn lanes from Harpers Street to Main Street. He would also like to see Harpers Street widened north of the intersection and sidewalks added along the road.

The council discussed Harpers Street during its March 7 workshop before the regular meeting. The council asked city staff to investigate whether Harpers Street could be widened.

Harpers Street is designated Municipal State Aid (MSA) road. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) distributes gas tax revenue to cities each year based on how many miles of MSA streets a community has. When the city wants to use MSA funds for any future project, the road must meet MSA street width or parking requirements.

Public Services Manager Robert Therres said Harpers Street would either need to be widened to allow parking on one side or the entire street would have to be signed as not allowing parking.

There are four new homes with driveways on the east side of Harpers Street and four more homes are planned for the west side. Therres said one option could be to create bump out parking areas for these residents, but the council was interested in considering a wider Harpers Street. Councilmember Russ Herbst said a lot of development is planned for this area and Harpers Street will be the main access point to Main Street.

A trail was proposed for the west side of Harpers Street and a sidewalk for the east side, but this was not installed after the economic downturn, Therres said. The council is willing to spend MSA dollars to add these paths.

“It’s just so much safer,” Councilmember Kathy Kolb said. “Every place where we haven’t done it, they’re begging for it now.”

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]