The Anoka City Council has approved preliminary and final plats for Woodbury House Estates.
These changes redraw lot lines and put in place a number of easements for the Woodbury House at 1632 South Ferry St., the adjoining green space and a neighboring lot, which is privately owned.
The city council purchased the historic Anoka home from the Anoka Housing and Redevelopment Authority earlier this year, and is currently looking at leasing the house to a local business for a tea room and restaurant.
Woodbury Estates has been defined as three distinct lots. The home is located on lot two, with greenspace to the north as lot one, according to Planning Director Carolyn Braun. Lot three, the southernmost part of the property, is privately owned.
Also, a land donation creates permanent, titled access to the Woodbury House. In the past, the driveway access has been under an easement with neighboring property owners, Weaver Bros. Company and Jenelle Weaver. But the Weavers chose to gift this property to the city in order to make the access permanent.
The Weavers have also agreed to an easement on lot three that will allow public access down a staircase to the Rum River.
Several members of the council feel that river access is key to the future success of the Woodbury House. “This is very thoughtful, very fortunate for the city of Anoka,” said Mayor Phil Rice. “I think the Weaver family has been very thoughtful in looking at this and … protecting the Woodbury House and also providing the opportunity for the public to share in what is a tremendously historic spot and for the community to share in that through trails and walkways and access … the Woodbury House property.”
Lot three will also have an easement that will allow water and sewer access if the riverfront property was ever developed. That would be done at the cost of the owner, not the city, said Braun. This would include the connection and the addition of a second shut-off, she said.
Councilmember Jeff Weaver has abstained from all discussion and votes surrounding the Woodbury House property.
Councilmember Steve Schmidt said this planning process has been an important step for the city.
“This whole process it just even puts a better foundation under the purchase that we’ve made of the Woodbury House,” Schmidt said. “It’s really important work. It’s busy work, it seems unimportant sometimes. I really commend the city staff for taking this forward and getting it all where it belongs for the future.”
Trail easements have also been put in place to allow future access for pedestrian or bike traffic across the Woodbury Estates property.
“If something happens to lot two and it was sold, the city would still preserve itself an easement for ingress and egress, along with a trail easement,” Braun said.
All of these moves have been done to preserve public access to this well-known property that is on the register of National Historic Places.
According to Braun, lot one is proposed to be public green space. A “viewshed” easement is already in place, which does not allow for any construction on this parcel.
Councilmember Mark Freeburg said planning, land donation and getting the easements in place, has only helped to improve the value of the Woodbury House as a city asset.
“The city got a great asset on 10 cents on the dollar and parkland, community land,” Freeburg said. “It’s big part of a big picture, it’s coming along.”
Mandy Moran Froemming is at firstname.lastname@example.org