The Andover City Council Aug. 5 allowed a development of 70 single-family homes on the southeast corner of Prairie Road and Andover Boulevard to continue moving forward.
The council, minus the absent Councilmember Julie Trude, unanimously approved rezoning the land to allow a higher density residential district than originally anticipated, but that is the same density as neighboring properties that have since been developed. It also approved the preliminary plat on behalf of the Catcher’s Creek land owner and developer Mark Smith.
Since the 35-acre development came up for sketch plan approval in March, a few residents in the Hickory Meadows 1st Addition to the east have been concerned about the location of a community park along 144th Avenue.
John Stevens said there are already about 30 homes in the 1st Addition with “50-plus” children” who will all be walking on 144th Avenue to get to the park. Tollberg Homes is building 10 single-family homes in the Hickory Meadows 2nd Addition.
Stevens said 144th Avenue could be an opportune short-cut for drivers wanting to avoid traffic backing up at the Andover Boulevard and Prairie Road stop sign to go either south or east and he worries about pedestrians being mixed in with this. He felt a sidewalk was needed.
“If the developments were master planned, the park would not be here,” Justin Higgins said.
Nathan Jones of Tollberg Homes suggested swapping lots so the current park could get homes and a new park could be built in a more ideal location for these residents closer to Coon Creek and a potential future trail.
City Administrator Jim Dickinson said “it’s a good college try,” but the park plat has already been recorded with the state and getting it changed is a time-consuming process. Plus, someone would have to pay for the park equipment to be moved.
Smith would also have to agree with the land swap in the first place because the park is split evenly between Tollberg Homes’ and Smith’s property, he said.
Hickory Meadows Park is currently 0.39-acres and will double in size, according to Community Development Director David Carlberg.
“There’s a substantial investment in that park and it’s only a few years old,” City Engineer and Public Works Superintendent David Berkowitz said.
The city worked with the neighborhood to get that park in, he said.
Higgins said the development plan the neighborhood saw did not show a through street by the park.
The council ultimately decided to leave the park in its current spot, but asked the Andover Parks and Recreation Commission to look at moving some equipment such as a sandbox that Higgins said is only 30 feet from the road. Road caution signs will be installed near the park.
Councilmember Sheri Bukkila understands where the residents are coming from and said she would have less of an issue if this was not a through street.
“My own experience in living near a park is you do have kids flying out of the park,” Bukkila said. “We build (parks) so people can go there and play there and then we don’t make it a safe travel.”
Councilmember Mike Knight asked about an on-street bike lane, but Berkowitz said this would require a wider street and posted no parking on both sides.
Mayor Mike Gamache does not believe there will be a problem with people cutting through the neighborhood. He said historically people have not been in favor of trails in front of their homes.
Asked by Bukkila what trails are outside this development, Berkowitz said here is a trail on the east side of Prairie Road that stops at Andover Boulevard. The city’s comprehensive plan anticipates a trail on Andover Boulevard in this area.
Carlberg said if the council would add a trail in Catcher’s Creek, it would have to address Hickory Meadows as well.
The Catcher’s Creek preliminary plat does call for a trail on its border with Hickory Meadows subdivision. The trail would be split evenly between these two developments and could eventually link to the proposed trail on the north side of Coon Creek, Carlberg said.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]