by Adam Gruenewald
Amidst some pushback from residents, NYA council members unanimously approved several steps providing for the continuation of The Preserve housing development in town.
During a fairly lengthy meeting on Monday, July 24, council members approved the rezoning of Outlot A within the fourth addition for a public park as well as the developers agreement, final plat and covenants for the fifth addition.
Sharing a bit of background on the planned unit development (PUD), planning consultant Cynthia Smith Strack shared that The Preserve housing development encompasses five phases of 293 housing units including 155 single family detached lots, 108 townhome units and 30 twin home units.
The fifth addition includes 37 one-family lots ranging in size from 9,006 square feet to 21,690 square feet with an average size of 15,036 square feet and lot and building packages are proposed in the $250,000 to $300,000 range.
Responding to council member and development resident Craig Heher’s concern of the minimum size requirements of 10,000 square feet, Smith Strack explained that the preliminary plat was approved in 2002.
“Planned unit development gives the developer flexibility and occasionally allows for a greater good, in this case mixed housing, a variance in what is the underlining standard,” said Smith Strack, adding standards for the PUD were not in effect in 2002. “The rules we have now may or may not be in effect in 2002.”
Responding to the issues and potential concerns, City Attorney Jay Squires advocated a best approach for the council moving forward and affirmed that the decisions made in 2002 are impactful.
“The specific issue is we are limited in imposing conditions that we may wish on the fifth addition,” said Squires, sharing that imposing a new lot limit is “stretching the limits of general authority to regulate the use of land,” adding there are various performance standards that impact the potential value or cost of homes. “The approvals are largely defined by what has happened in the past.”
Amidst the discussion were frustrated members of the neighborhood, who were present at the meeting and have shared their concerns in recent meetings as well.
Resident and Schmidt Chiropractic business owner Julie Schmidt expressed the shared “disappointment” she and her neighbors are feeling regarding a trail and park system, the lack of larger and professional style homes along the lake and fully completed areas prior to expansion within the development, not to mention code and landscaping concerns within existing homes in The Meadows development.
“When we chose to live, raise our families and work in NYA it came with a vision,” she said, advocating a long term, and not short term, vision for the city. “Not something we dreamed up on our own but something we were given to us when we bought our homes 10 years ago… Unfortunately for those of with that vision, so far none of that is holding true.”
Loomis Homes LLC Chief Managing Officer Scott Loomis was also present at the meeting as well, giving input and assurances on a variety of questions raised during the meeting ranging from damaged sidewalks, various permit issues, and concerns of uniformity or lack of diversity in styles and colors of houses in terms of architectural guidelines.
Loomis did respond directly to questions regarding adding more expensive homes within the development, citing that area buyers of that nature typically go to Waconia.
“It’s tough to get sales in that price range,” he said of homes in the $300,000 to $400,000 range. “If we could sell houses all day long at $400,000 with two stories, we would do it. If the market picks up, we’re going to have more pricier homes. It’s all based on market conditions.”
Of particular note, council members did add a condition regarding those guidelines into the final plat approval for the fifth phase of the development.
Heher advocated for adding the requirement.
“There’s no being accountable for meeting that standard or not meeting that standard,” he said. “If we can implement some provisions to allow for diversity in different styles back there, I think we should.”
Also, during their considerable discussion, council members acknowledge concerns expressed in writing by neighbors as well as additional verbal comments shared on July 24 and in recent meetings.
Council member Dick Stolz said he understands their concerns and the opposing argument, but the PUD approved in 2002 is what is driving their decisions as it relates to revising lot size minimums.
“As I understand when you put together a development with many lots in it, some will be larger and some will be smaller,” said Stolz. “With the PUD you can go smaller because it’s a different approval deal.”
Mayor Carol Lagergren agreed.
“We are under those guidelines from 2002,” she said.
In other news, council members approved waiving the rental fees for local non-profit and civic organizations moving forward.
City Administrator Steve Helget explained that local non-profits and civic organizations are not charged for monthly meetings but are charged rental fees for fundraisers at $150 for Willkommen Park Pavilion rentals and $75 for other locations including the Roy Clay Community Building, Lion’s Shelter and Legion Pool Park.
Helget explained that the city has received several requests over the years.
“The understanding is that with the fundraising that they do, the proceeds are generally utilized locally quite a bit,” said Helget. “So it takes away from their profit margin and the work that they are doing and makes it challenging to have more of a successful event with having those fees.”
City Clerk Kelly Hayes did share that the summer months from April to October remain busy especially for the Willkommen Park Pavilion and the city has not had trouble getting rentals during those months.
In the end, council members recognized the amount that the non-profit organizations give back amidst some hesitations like those expressed by council member Dick Stolz.
“We have to be careful because if they had a fee maybe that’s why they didn’t use it so much,” said Stolz. “Now if there is no fee, they would want to use it more.”
Council member Mike McPadden expressed his support.
“I just think it’s a good idea,” he said. “We can always revisit it at some point in the future if for some reason something happens and it’s being abused however it may end up being abused.”
Mayor Carol Lagergren agreed.
“I trust these groups are doing what is best for the city and we need to make a good faith effort and assume good intentions,” said Lagergren.
Carver County Sheriff Deputy Dave Murphy also presented his quarterly report, which included a decrease of 863 calls for service to 503 so far along with decreases in traffic stops from 422 to 356 this year and accidents from 32 to 25 within the city limits this year.
“It’s been relatively quiet this year so far,” said Murphy.
Responding to council member Mike McPadden’s questions on Highway 212, Murphy said it remains an area of focus.
“We can always do that and I’m always looking at time to do that and get additional officers in the area to help with that,” said Murphy.
Council members also authorized staff to pursue corrections to nuisance violations with regards to vehicles and junk at 793 Tacoma Avenue North, accepted the resignation of Cassandra Kemp from the planning commission, approved a gambling permit for the Knights of Columbus bingo event during Stiftungsfest, heard from NYA firefighter Chris Glander regarding rotating night duty crew and station crews overnight presences in the community to save on costs for medical calls, approved eight steering committee appointments for the 2040 comprehensive plan update, set special council meetings for Aug. 10 and 21 to discuss the 2018 budget and OK’d the hiring of bus drivers Dominic Fratus, Dennis Paulson and Steven Schesso.
Council members also held a 2018 budget meeting work session that covered the brief introduction and early discussion on north water tower repainting, equipment replacement, enterprise funds, capital projects and staff wages and benefits.
The NYA City Council will next meet at 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 14.
Follow Adam Gruenewald on Twitter @adamgruenewald.