Blaine busy approving new home developments

Ten years to the day that grading began on The Lakes development, the Blaine City Council May 2 approved the 55th addition within this development and multiple other homes in other areas of the city.

The Blaine City Council May 2 approved 286 new housing units in six different developments. One of the preliminary plats approved is for 33 new single-family units not too far north of these homes in the area of 125th Avenue and Xylite Street.Photo by Eric Hagen

The Blaine City Council May 2 approved 286 new housing units in six different developments. One of the preliminary plats approved is for 33 new single-family units not too far north of these homes in the area of 125th Avenue and Xylite Street.Photo by Eric Hagen

Including all preliminary and final plats, the council approved 286 new housing units that evening.

Blaine has been one of the fastest growing Twin Cities communities for more than 10 years, according to information shared by Community Development Director Bryan Schafer, who noted this historic occasion to the council.

“This place has come a long way from a turnip patch,” said Mayor Tom Ryan when reminiscing about The Lakes development.

Councilmember Russ Herbst said, “It’s amazing what has happened out there.”

Blaine has ranked in the top three in the Twin Cities area in new housing units built for 10 out of 12 years between 2001 and 2012 and obtained the top spot in 2002. Between 2003 and 2012, Blaine ranked fourth behind Minneapolis, St. Paul and Woodbury with 4,916 housing units built.

As the May 2 council meeting illustrated, housing projects are not always smooth sailing.

The 55th addition of The Lakes development is being constructed by Centra Homes of Coon Rapids and not Rottlund Homes, which ceased operations in 2011. Centra Homes will build 48 detached townhomes. Rottlund had planned for a denser development of attached townhomes, Schafer said.

Centra will focus on improving the exterior home appearance with brick, stone and varying gables and hip rooflines to somewhat mirror the successful Hans Hagen Homes products elsewhere in The Lakes, but on a smaller scale, according to Schafer.

Access concerns

Residents who spoke at the council meeting and live in the 44-home first addition of the Woods at Quail Creek development in the area of 125th Avenue and Xylite Street are not opposed to the U.S. Home Corporation’s plan to construct 33 single-family homes north of them in the second addition.

What concerns them is the limited access to and from 125th Avenue. Xylite Street is only a right-in, right-out.

Schafer said Anoka County told the developer in 2007 when the whole 113-unit development was going through preliminary plat that Xylite could not be a full access because there was another one not too far east at Harpers Street, which is the main northern access into The Lakes.

Schafer and City Engineer Jean Keely said the county recently changed its position and will allow temporary full access at Xylite Street and 125th Avenue.

Keely said it is not clear how long it would be until it would have to revert back to a right-in, right-out. The county will conduct a traffic count at Harpers Street to see if a traffic signal is warranted. If that goes in, the median may be extended far enough west to eliminate any chance of a full access at Xylite Street.

Matt Graff said a lot of the homeowners in the Woods at Quail Creek first addition moved in before the right-in, right-out went in and believed there would be additional access to 125th Avenue once more homes were built.

“We’re not going to be quiet about it,” Graff said. “We’re going to make as much noise as possible because we value our family’s safety.”

Once Woods at Quail Creek develops more to the north, 128th and 129th avenues would be extended east to Harpers Street, Schafer said.

In the meantime, Graff as well as Nicki Molin do not want to make a U-turn on 125th Avenue at Harpers Street when there is no median there, which would come if a signal goes in. They do not want to drive down another road and turn around in somebody’s driveway, which one Blaine Police officer allegedly told Molin was an option.

The council approved the final plat and conditional use permit for these 33 single-family homes, but the city will ask the county to share some costs with the developer and residents to get a temporary full access at Xylite Street, which once again hinges on what happens at Harpers Street. Constructing a temporary full access at Xylite could cost $200,000, Schafer said.

Not far west of here is another proposed development for which the council May 2 approved a preliminary plat. There will be 14 single-family homes constructed, but the residents of those homes will have to travel on 132nd Avenue and then Quail Creek Drive to get to the nearest major corridor, which is Radisson Road in this case.

Schafer said more access and neighborhood road tie-ins would come in when homes develop to the east.

Loss of trees

A number of trees will be taken down when Ryland Homes develops 177 single-family homes in the Preserve at Legacy Creek development. Some of the smaller lots will be 65 feet wide, while the larger lots will be 72 to 75 feet wide. House sizes will range from 2,185 square feet to 3,380 square feet.

The challenge of this site is a ditch and scattered wetlands, which will necessitate massive site regrading and stormwater ponds. The property owner, Majestic Financial, LLC, has been working on a site plan over the past two years, Schafer said.

“Everybody thinks this is an easy thing to just come in and build homes and then walk out rich,” Ryan said.

Corey Ball has seen deer, turkeys, foxes and coyotes from his backyard, which faces this proposed development. It appears trees in an open area will be going away, although there would still be new trees planted in the backyards of the new homes.

When he bought his home from D.R. Horton four years ago, Ball claimed the developer told him those trees would remain even when the next development came in.

The council told Ball he could meet with the site owner to see if the two sides could come up with a cost share agreement to plant more trees.

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

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