Andover looks to buy, re-sell most of closed golf course

There are seven to eight acres on the north end of the 70-acre property along South Coon Creek Drive that could be redeveloped. This is where the closed Woodland Creek Golf Course clubhouse sits. Photo by Eric Hagen
There are seven to eight acres on the north end of the 70-acre property along South Coon Creek Drive that could be redeveloped. This is where the closed Woodland Creek Golf Course clubhouse sits. Photo by Eric Hagen

The plan is for the city to buy all 70 acres from Olvan Properties LLC, sell at least 60 acres to the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources for a wetland bank road program conservation easement and then sell the remaining upland along South Coon Creek Drive to a developer, according to City Administrator Jim Dickinson.

“There was something here that was known that did add some benefit to the properties. We saw significant market value reduction in the parcels that bordered the golf course when it shut down,” Dickinson said. “Now we have a property that is not necessarily maintained the way people would like it to be maintained. We can put some closure to getting it to where it can be maintained.”

Dickinson received a copy of a letter from Ken Powell, wetland banking coordinator for the Board of Soil and Water Resources, indicating he will recommend to the board Aug. 29 that it purchase at least 60 acres for a conservation easement. The board would subsequently pay for wetland restoration.

Assuming the board approves this easement purchase from the city and several other conditions are met such as the current property owner providing a clean title, lien judgement and mortgage free property, Andover would look to close on purchasing all 70 acres from Olvan Properties by Oct. 1, according to Dickinson.

Mayor Mike Gamache said some neighbors wanted the city to operate the nine-hole course because they were concerned about their property values, but this would never make sense for the city because it would have been a financial “black hole.”

“It’s probably the best outcome we could have had,” he said.

Although acknowledging that people buying their homes had expectations of being next to a golf course, “the next best thing you could have is to get it back to its natural state,” Gamache said.

Ron Vannelli, one of the owners, said Olvan Properties bought the golf course in 2002 and is the third ownership group.

The city would pay $375,000 for the property plus $12,000 in closing costs for a total price of $387,000. The Board of Soil and Water Resources could potentially pay Andover $381,340 for 68.1 acres if the board deems this much property should be in the conservation easement.

The board’s staff has started a site evaluation, but some work will continue until around November. The final documents would be recorded with the bank and payments to the city would come through the winter and spring, Dickinson said.

Olvan Properties in February 2008 was shot down by the Andover City Council for a proposal to allow sewer and water to be extended to 10 acres, but only about 2.5 acres could have been developed because of wetlands and then City Planner Courtney Bednarz estimated the most homes that could fit on the property would be 18.

Gamache and Dickinson said this is not connected with the city’s ongoing open space program because the goal of the 2006 voter approved referendum is to protect land that could be developed and 70 acres of mostly wetland was not a threat to be developed.

Dickinson said there are only about seven to eight acres of upland on the 70-acre site.

“The site doesn’t have a lot of development value down there, so when we put together a proposal we’re not going to overpay for property,” he said.

Gamache said golf shots could not slice too far either way because so much of the property was wet.

The city has been working with Olvan Properties LLC, notably Vannelli, for the past five years on what could be done with this property. Dickinson frequently got phone calls from neighbors wondering what was going to happen with the golf course, which has become overgrown with noxious weeds.

Once the city closes on the property, it plans to host an open house so the neighbors can find out more about what will be happening on the site, Dickinson said.

What could happen on the limited development acreage along Coon Creek Drive and whether the clubhouse itself could be renovated for some community use has yet to be determined, Dickinson said. The property is currently zoned for single-family residential.

Dickinson said the city is interested in trails and some education component, but that would have to be negotiated with the Board of Soil and Water Resources. It may just be a trail around the perimeter so there is some limited access and a clear border between this land and neighboring properties.

“The use of that I’m sure would be more local use,” Dickinson said. “I don’t see it as someone from the north end of the community coming down and just running around. It’s an added amenity for this area.”

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]