Timing of new road from Country Oaks North development questioned

Although the Andover City Council supported a new 64-home development at its June 3 meeting, a split vote on the preliminary plat showed disagreement on how to ensure construction of a second access road.

Scott Wold developed Country Oaks West on the north side of 161st Avenue, just east of Hanson Boulevard. Wold, through SW Land, LLC, is working on developing Country Oaks North on an adjacent 40-acre parcel that the Putnam family owned.

To the north of the Putnam property is a similarly sized parcel owned by the Ganter family, which has no development plans and cannot be built on until 2015 at the earliest and not until a new east-west road to Hanson Boulevard is developed. The council made this ruling last fall when amending its comprehensive plan because Country Oaks West residents are concerned about adding more traffic to Wintergreen Street, which runs north and south.

Wold told the council June 3 that he has reached a tentative agreement to buy land to the west from Dennis and Richard Kuiken that would allow for the development of the new secondary road. He would build additional homes along the new road to pay for it, but the council would have to approve this at a future date. The only approvals given June 3 revolved around development of the former Putnam property.

“We’re trying to all build a community together and you’re taking that seriously,” Councilmember Julie Trude said in thanking Wold for working on a solution that helps both neighborhoods as well as future residents on the Ganter property, which does not have a developer.

Although rezoning the property from R-1 single family rural to R-4 single family urban was approved unanimously in order to allow development to be at a similar density to Country Oaks West, the motion to approve the preliminary plat squeaked by on a 3-2 vote.

Trude was unable to find any written commitment that Wold or anybody else would develop the new east-west road. If most, but not all of Country Oaks North was developed and the adjacent Kuiken and Ganter properties did not develop, Trude was concerned that a new road may not happen.

City Attorney Scott Baumgartner said the development agreement between the city and SW Land, LLC could address timing for constructing the new road. This agreement must be approved before the final plat is adopted, he said.

Mayor Mike Gamache and Councilmember Sheri Bukkila voted against the Country Oaks North preliminary plat because they felt this new requirement that Trude pressed for is so open-ended that it does not really accomplish anything. They pointed out that Wold has taken many steps to help make the road a reality.

“I don’t see it holding water,” Bukkila said regarding the new language Baumgartner suggested.

Trude and Councilmembers Tony Howard and Mike Knight approved the preliminary plat with this new wording, but all at one point acknowledged the hard work Wold has done.

“We have to be realistic. The demand and desirability of these lots will depend a great deal on this road coming in,” Councilmember Mike Knight said.

Besides the second public road to Hanson Boulevard, the city also is planning for an emergency access road to Ward Lake Drive to the east. Carlberg said Ganter has given permission for the fire department to use a road on his property that crosses the railroad tracks, but this is only large enough for grass rigs and not large fire engines.

It is unclear if Burlington Northern Santa Fe would allow another railroad crossing in this area, but Carlberg said the plat for Country Oaks North includes a 40-foot wide easement on the northeast corner by the tracks. When the adjacent Ganter property develops, another 40-foot easement could be required to give the city an 80-foot wide road easement. At that time, the city could work with the railroad company on getting another crossing, Carlberg said.

Wold said the standard city lot in an R-4 district is 130 feet deep. Many of the back yards in this development will be 180 feet deep. Some properties by the railroad will have another 140 feet beyond the lot line to the center of the railroad tracks. He had to cut down a lot of trees earlier this year, but said he was still able to save a significant number of trees and will be planting new ones.

Bukkila said she understood there were drainage issues to deal with that led to the clear cutting of 25 acres of trees. Trude gave Wold credit for building homes farther away from the tracks than some neighboring Andover developments.

“It’s a quality development with bigger lots,” Howard said. “I think he’s done his homework. I’m very happy with what’s proposed.”

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]