Andover looks at future housing by Coon Creek

Plans for two housing developments south of Andover Boulevard and east of Prairie Road on the north side of Coon Creek are beginning to take shape.

This map shows the 35-acre sketch plan area and the 11.31-acre Hickory Meadows 2nd Addition.

This map shows the 35-acre sketch plan area and the 11.31-acre Hickory Meadows 2nd Addition.

The Andover City Council March 19 approved a preliminary plat for a 10 single-family lot Tollberg Homes development to be called Hickory Meadows 2nd Addition.

Nathan Jones of Tollberg Homes said it hopes to start construction as soon as road weight restrictions are lifted this spring. Construction is estimated to take two to three months.

“I think this really fills a need for the community and it’s a really nice project with walk-out lots backing up to the creek,” Jones said. “I think it would be a really nice addition to the community.”

Kordiak Homes had received preliminary plat approval in 2006 for the first and second additions, according to Community Development Director David Carlberg.

Jones said a bank had to finish the first addition in 2008 and Tollberg Homes bought the second addition land from the bank, which Carlberg said is 11.31 acres.

Just to the west of Hickory Meadows lies 35 acres owned by Mark Smith of Lino Lakes. The council March 5 approved a sketch plan that anticipates 75 single-family lots.

According to Carlberg, this is a completely separate development from Hickory Meadows and timing of housing development on this property is unknown.

“I think it’s a good sign of the improving economy that we’re seeing developers coming back to the city and picking up projects,” Carlberg said.

A few residents living in the Hickory Meadows 1st Addition raised questions and concerns about the developments.

John Stevens noticed that 144th Avenue appears to be a significant east-west road between the Hickory Meadows 1st Addition and the future 35-acre Smith property. He could see residents cutting through the neighborhood to avoid the four-way stop at Andover Boulevard and Prairie Road where he says traffic backs up. Hickory Meadows Park is right next to 144th Avenue.

“What will be the deterrent, besides posted signs, to slow the traffic through here, especially with the park being right there and kids being attracted to that location?” Stevens asked the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Councilmember Julie Trude said that with the curve of the road and elevation changes, 144th Avenue will not be a speedway. Those using the road will be neighborhood traffic, she said.

She cannot image people briefly leaving Andover Boulevard or Prairie Road to cut through this development, Trude said.

A couple of other residents think an improved trail system should be considered.

Nate Buffham would like to see a trail constructed over to the Prairie Road trail now that additional homes are going to be constructed. Louis Ramone agrees.

“We are in an urgent need for trails in our development,” Ramone said. “There’s quite a group of people that like to do biking, walking and it’s really dangerous trying to leave the development on a bicycle or where we are jogging.”

According to City Planner Stephanie Hanson, Andover owns a 100-foot trail easement on the north side of Coon Creek in this area for a potential regional trail, although she said that a floodplain fringe area could complicate construction. This trail and another along Andover Boulevard are both shown in Andover’s comprehensive plan, but it has not been determined where this trail could be constructed and when this could happen.

Carlberg told the council Tuesday night that the city is looking at an easement between lots in the Hickory Meadows 2nd Addition or along the Smith and Hickory Meadows 2nd Addition property lines to connect to a potential trail along Coon Creek.

Floodplain, drainage issues

The two developments will have to account for a floodplain fringe area on the north side of Coon Creek.

City Engineer and Public Works Superintendent David Berkowitz said some lots are within what is called the floodplain fringe. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not allow fill to be placed in the floodplain to make a lot buildable, but it allows it in the floodplain fringe area, he said.

The developers would have to receive FEMA approval before the project and then confirmation that the sites are buildable through a letter of map amendment process. Berkowitz said it appears the homes would still technically be in the floodplain fringe, but the FEMA approval means the future homeowners would not have to purchase flood insurance.

Buffham asked how Lot 7 within the Hickory Meadows 2nd Addition would be developed because a wetland runs through it.

Jones said a wetland was created within the first addition of Hickory Meadows to mitigate the impact on this wetland.

An eight-foot tall and 70-foot long retaining wall must be constructed to make this lot buildable, however. Councilmember Tony Howard recommended Tollberg Homes extend a chain link fence to this retaining wall so nobody can fall off the wall.

The Coon Creek Watershed District has required two large rain gardens for this development. According to Carlberg, the watershed district’s rules have changed from the time the first addition of Hickory Meadows was constructed.

The rain gardens are so large that each will take up half of two front lawns, so four homeowners are responsible for maintaining their separate rain gardens, Carlberg said.

Councilmember Mike Knight envisioned a scenario in which neighbors got into a dispute because both are not equally contributing to the rain garden maintenance. The city made it clear that the private parties are responsible and the realtor must make prospective homeowners aware of this.

Lot sizes

Ramone wondered if the city can regulate the style and price level of house the developer plans to build.

Hanson said the city can regulate the size of lots and size of homes, but not its price.

The sketch plan area actually was planned for R-1 housing, but it will be rezoned to R-4. Carlberg said this is the same zoning for the Hickory Meadows development.

Andover requires lots to be a minimum of 2.5 acres in the R-1 zoning district. If the lots in Hickory Meadows 2nd Addition were divided equally and wetlands factored in, the size per lot is about one acre. The 75 lots on the 35 acres in Smith’s property would average out to 0.47 acres per lot.

Carlberg said the R-4 zoning district requires a minimum lot size of 11,400 square feet, which is about one-quarter of an acre.

Trude complimented Tollberg Homes for proposing good size lots that can have nice homes on them rather than doing the bare minimum in order to squeeze as many homes on the site as possible. She said the homes will have fabulous views of the creek.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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