Growth is no stranger to Waconia

Whether citizens noticed a residential home being built in the Interlaken development or enjoyed hamburgers and French fries at the recently opened Ground Round restaurant, it wasn’t overly difficult for them to find examples of the growth and development that occurred in Waconia during the past year.
At the Waconia City Council meeting on Feb. 4, Planning Director John Hilgers discussed the city’s recent growth by presenting highlights of the 2012 Land Use and Development Summary.
“This is an annual report that staff puts together that basically summarizes what happened in the prior year as far as different land use and development activities,” explained Hilgers, who noted the summary includes building permit activity, numbers and values; vacant lot availability for development; historic permit activity; housing unit totals and population estimates; a summary of non-residential building activity; and more.
“The nice thing about this report is that it was originally prepared to help share information with the appraiser, real estate and developer community,” Hilgers said. “Many times throughout the year, staff gets asked questions. In the early to mid 1990s, we kept track of what those questions were and really, this report was put together to answer a lot of those questions from the development and real estate community. So, when we do get inquiries, we just have them reference our city website or we can send out a direct copy. It really saves on staff time because it really answers most if not all of the inquiries that we do get.”
In 2012, the city issued 1,068 building permits, which Hilgers noted was almost double the number of building permits issued in 2011 (595). In 2012, the total permit value added to the community was $34.62 million, compared to $20.9 million added in 2011.
Of those 1,068 building permits, 88 were for new single family home or townhome permits, compared to 25 such permits in 2011 . Forty-seven of the 88 permits were for homes in the various phases of the Interlaken development, 15 were for the Legacy Village development, nine went to the Pinehill development, and the rest applied to homes built in other parts of the community. Hilgers noted that Ryland Homes (Interlaken), Centra Homes (Legacy Village) and Mattamy Homes (Pinehill) drove most of the home development in 2012.
The city has about 200 single family lots available to build on, an inventory that Hilgers indicated was somewhat low but he noted expectations for the inventory to increase in 2013 and 2014.
In terms of commercial development, permit activity highlights included the Carver County Fair Administrative Building, the Ground Round Bar and Grill, Lil’ Explorers Daycare, a connecting corridor between Lil’ Explorers and Auburn Meadows, an addition at Yetzer’s Home Furnishings, and tenant finishes for Venus Nails in the Waconia Marketplace building, Balance Life, and the Green Leaf Tea Room.
As of Dec. 31, 2012, there was 70 acres of commercial land available in the city limits (about 38.5 acres in the Highway District, four acres in the Medical Business District, nine acres in the Legacy Village development, 18 acres at Interlaken Village by Target, and less than one acre in the downtown districts).
No new construction permits were issued for industrial use in 2012.
The Waconia West Industrial Park has three acres that is currently zoned and vacant for potential development.
The Pinehill Business Park has about 12 acres of industrial zoned property north of 10th Street just to the east of the water treatment plant. An additional 10 to 15 acres of industrial guided property is located at the intersection of Hartman Drive and 10th Street (currently in Waconia Township, would need to be annexed).
The summary noted that there are 4,347 housing units within the city, with 2,929 single family units (67.3 percent) and 1,418 multi-family units such as townhomes and apartment units (32.7 percent). The city’s estimated population is 10,873. Hilgers said the population would probably reach 11,000 early this summer.
The complete summary is available at the city’s website (
In other matters:
• The city recently received a donation totaling approximately $11,000 from the Waconia Fire Department Gambling Board. An amount of $5,500 from that donation will be used to purchase training equipment or supplies for the fire department, including three Rescue Annie Manikins (about $3,500), updated PA system speakers and rewiring (about $1,500), and additional file/storage cabinets and other office supplies.
• The city will pursue a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that are dedicated toward air pollution emission reduction projects to improve air quality. If awarded, the grant would assist in the purchase of a plug-in gas/electric hybrid truck for the Public Services Department.
The truck would be used for trips that stay within the city limits, meaning it would provide lower gas operation costs, and in some cases, no gas use throughout the day. Should the city receive the grant, it would be used to reduce potential capital equipment expenditures for when the truck would be purchased in 2014.
• The council approved approximately $28,500 in trail improvements for 2013. A trail segment on Waconia Parkway from Scott Lane to Sugarbush Lane will be reconditioned. The project also includes tentative plans to seal cracks on several newer trail segments throughout the community.
The project is part of the Master Sidewalk & Trail Improvement process that was adopted in 2011.
• Justin Sorensen was appointed as the new Public Services Technician. Sorensen was one of five finalists to interview for the position, which drew the interest of 16 applicants. Sorensen’s technical education and engineering background — along with his familiarity and experience with the Public Services Department as a current Street Maintenance Worker with the city — were among the reasons he was chosen for the position.
The city will now recruit a replacement for his previous position.
• Melissa Witthus was appointed to serve as the Fitness & Facility Program Manager at Safari Island. She has more than a decade of experience in the fitness and health field, a successful track record of programming and program growth, and met all of the desired education and certification requirements for the position.
The city received 57 applicants and interviewed seven finalists.
• Ariel Follett was appointed as a permanent part-time On-Site Manager at Safari Island. Follett has worked at Safari Island since 2006 in a variety of guest service roles. Follett was chosen, in part, for her track record of providing excellent customer service and her proven ability to supervise the facility and staff at Safari Island.
• The city will spend about $30,000 from the Storm Water Utility Budget to limit the impact of wetland flooding — and its potential to damage private property — in The Landing subdivision. Using a directional drilling process, a 12-inch pipe will be placed between properties at 1316 and 1320 Beachcomber Blvd to provide a secure drainage system for the problem-causing wetland. The work is expected to occur this winter yet.
• Although the council normally meets on the first and third Mondays of the month, the meeting that would have been held on Monday, Feb. 18 was moved to Tuesday, Feb. 19 because of President’s Day.
City Survey
The city of Waconia will again be measuring itself with performance standards as suggested by the council on Local Results and Innovation (CLRI). These standards will help the city develop a measurement and reporting system that will aid in the management of local government services.
A critical piece to the Performance Measurement Program is to engage citizens in surveying their opinion of city services. In partnership with the League of Minnesota Cities, an on-line survey tool has been developed in which citizens can provide responses to a variety of topics and questions.
This survey will be available for citizens to provide input until the end of February. To access this survey, visit the city website at
For more information on the Performance Measurement Program you can visit the Office of the State Auditor website at