Andover allows site grading to start early for home development

With winter quickly approaching, the Andover City Council Oct. 15 was amenable to allowing tree clearing for a housing development to begin sooner in the review process than the city normally allows.

The council approved the preliminary plat for a 70 single-family home development called Catcher’s Creek back in August. The developer Mark Smith is working fast on getting stipulations of this plat met, but he is anxious to get started on site work before the ground starts freezing, according to City Engineer and Public Works Superintendent David Berkowitz.

The city normally asks that all requirements of a preliminary plat to be met before tree clearing and grubbing can start, but Berkowitz said city staff felt Smith should be allowed to begin the project on the southeast corner of Prairie Road and Andover Boulevard.

“We felt it was a reasonable request,” Berkowitz said. “We just want (the council) to understand if this does move forward with the clearing and grubbing that certain things would need to be put in place.”

This includes erosion and sediment controls, a pre-construction meeting on the property between the city, developer and Coon Creek Watershed District and a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency site grading permit.

According to the preliminary plat report in the Aug. 5 council packet, a majority of trees within the plat will be removed to allow grading and drainage on the site, but new trees will be planted and tree preservation is planned in various parts of the development. Kameron Kytonen, the city’s natural resources technician, said some areas include along Andover Boulevard and Prairie Road and near the wetland on the south side of the property.

The Coon Creek Watershed District Board of Managers Oct. 28 approved site clearing to only take place north of 143rd Avenue, on the north side of Coon Creek, according to Tim Kelly, watershed district administrator.

The more difficult area of the project is along the north side of Coon Creek, south of 143rd Avenue, where Smith needs to fill in floodplain fringe areas in order to develop homes, but he needs to accommodate the runoff elsewhere in the development, Kelly said.

No site grading will be allowed in this area until all drainage concerns are addressed, he said.

“Part of our’s and the city’s responsibility is to look out for those things and make sure that the system works and that it’s not working at somebody else’s expense, which includes the new homeowners,” Kelly said.

According to Kelly, the federal government shutdown delayed review.

But Berkowitz said he is not sure what impact the federal shutdown had.

The developer must receive Federal Emergency Management Agency approval and confirmation that these sites are buildable through a letter of map amendment process. This means future homeowners would not be mandated to purchase flood insurance.

None of these homes would be in the actual floodplain because FEMA does not allow floodplains to be filled, according to Berkowitz.

The FEMA decision and the local review on the site drainage would impact another potential development east of Catcher’s Creek. The second addition of Hickory Meadows could have 10 single-family homes, according to a preliminary plat the council approved March 19.

Berkowitz said the Hickory Meadows second addition has issues with soils and while city staff has discussed options with the developer — Tollberg Homes — there has not been a formal submission for review and approval.

The 35-acre Catcher’s Creek development will have a density similar to the existing Hickory Meadows first addition. Residents in this development are concerned about the location of a less than one-acre park along 144th Avenue, which will become the main road connecting these two neighborhoods, but the council decided to keep the park in its present location rather than move it elsewhere in the development.

Justin Higgins asked if some park equipment such as a sandbox could be moved farther than 30 feet from the road.

Todd Haas, assistant public works director, said there are no plans to move the sandbox at this time.

Eric Hagen is at
[email protected]