The Andover City Council Feb. 18 approved comprehensive plan amendments to three properties in the city to allow for future housing development.
The council on a 4-1 vote approved these changes in October, which also required approval from the Metropolitan Council. Now that this state agency has signed off on the plan, the council needed to give final approval, according to Community Development Director David Carlberg.
Carlberg, along with Councilmembers Sheri Bukkila and Tony Howard, all said planning is far from complete. Only one of these sites has a sketch plan to give the city a general idea how many homes could be included. Before any development happens, there would need to be a preliminary and final plats approved that would further define important issues such as stormwater drainage and landscaping.
“There is no implication that we’re doing anything other than setting the stage,” Bukkila said. “As far as what’s going to happen, that is still freely up in the air. And that is determined by the council. It’s local. It’s not up to the Met Council. It’s for us to decide what is good development.”
Brad Povlitzki owned Pov’s Sports Bar where Walmart now sits, but he kept 6.39 acres immediately to the northwest. Povlitzki requested a comprehensive land use change from general commercial to urban residential Medium, and Carlberg said this makes sense because the site has limited visibility and access from a major road.
There was no opposition to Povlitski’s request from any neighboring residents.
On the other hand, 113 residents signed a petition opposing two property owners’ request to change the comprehensive plan land use on two neighboring properties north of 161st Avenue and east of Hanson Boulevard. The Andover Planning and Zoning Commission also opposed the request.
The Putnam family owns 40 acres north of the Country Oaks West neighborhood. Immediately north of the Putnam property is a 43-acre parcel owned by the Ganter family.
Both property owners requested the city to change the comprehensive plan land use from rural residential to urban residential low density.
Putnam already has an agreement to work with Country Oaks West developer Scott Wold to develop their property for Country Oaks North, but only a sketch plan has been submitted. No developer has publicly expressed interest in the Ganter property.
Andover does not provide city sewer and water to properties in the rural residential areas of the community. This includes most property north of 161st Avenue with one exception being Country Oaks West, which was developed by Wold in 2005 and has city sewer and water.
Rural residential properties cannot be smaller than 2.5 acres. Urban residential low density, which these 83 acres are currently designated, allows between 1.75 and 3.6 homes per acre.
The biggest concerns residents had regarding the Putnam and Ganter requests were the increased density and uncertainty on how quickly a secondary road could be developed so that Wintergreen Street would not get all the traffic to and from the neighborhoods.
According to Carlberg, Wintergreen Street is currently half-a-mile through Country Oaks West. It would be three-quarters of a mile long after the Putnam property is developed and one mile long after the Ganter property is developed. This length concerned Country Oaks West residents.
Carlberg said Feb. 18 that Wold and other property owners have been working on a concept for a new east-west road to Hanson Boulevard once these properties develop. However, “multiple property owners need to be brought on the same page for that to happen,” he said.
Carlberg said city staff’s position has been that this secondary road is necessary, funding and alignment still needs to be worked out. There’s wetland and peat west of these properties that would affect the design.
“I think it should be understood that this traffic can’t be dumped onto Wintergreen. Period,” Councilmember Mike Knight said.
Councilmember Julie Trude was absent from the Oct. 15 meeting when the council first voted unanimously to approve all three requests. In an interview after the meeting, Trude said that she would have voted against the land use change for the 83 acres because she feels Andover’s roads are not prepared to handle the additional traffic and was concerned that Wintergreen Street is the only certain access point to and from this neighborhood.
Trude Feb. 18 was the only one to vote against all comprehensive plan amendment requests.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org