Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, May 21, 2001

Two HL townhome developments OK'd with a touch of controversy

By Lynda Jensen

Two townhome developments were approved by the Howard Lake City Council in front of a fair-sized crowd Tuesday, with a little controversy for both.

The first development, planned for the southern half of Franklin Street, was granted over the objections of the county board, two businesses and two residents who voiced concerns about access.

Part of the plans for development include closing the railroad crossing at 13th Avenue, since the townhome unit would physically block this crossing on one side.

The Wright County Board vigorously opposed closing the railroad crossing at its May 1 meeting because it provides access to the western portion of the Wright County Fairgrounds, according to a letter written by Chief Deputy Attorney Brian Asleson.

"This crossing receives heavy use during the fair as an alternate access for fair goers and the primary access to the stock barns area for exhibitors," Asleson wrote. The county offered to pursue the idea of buying the property from the developer, Pete Fisher, Shorewood.

"It is imperative that the 13th Avenue crossing remain available for fairground use," Asleson wrote.

The development was approved unanimously by planning and zoning.

"What' s the county going to do with trucks?" asked resident Pat VanOss. VanOss objected that the county wasn't given enough notice about the development to come up with alternative traffic plans. "The timing and coordination seem to be lacking here," he said.

"The county has been well aware the past few months," Mayor Gerry Smith said.

That crossing is privately owned, pointed out Councilor Shelly Reddemann. In addition, it is not designated for trucks anyway, Smith said. Trucks can use Wright County Road 7 or Keats as an alternative route, Smith said.

Businessman Philip Sonstegard was another who objected to the access, saying that he needed that crossing for his business, Sonstegard Foods. His trucks would be required to drive an extra mile either way to access the highway, Sonstegard wrote in a letter of protest. "We are strongly opposed to this project," he wrote.

Another letter of objection came from Munson Lakes Nutrition, which did not want more residential developments in close proximity to its feed mill, since this may generate complaints about smell.

The city vacated sections of Franklin Street to accommodate this development.

Fisher will pay for all associated costs of the development, including sewer and water hook up charges (known as SAC/WAC fees).

Another development approved was Orchard Terrace development, planned for the east side of town.

It will be located south of Highway 12, just east of Sixth Avenue, at the waterfront of Mallard Pass Lake. The property was formerly known as the old apple orchard owned by Elloyd Hauser.

lt will be an extension of Seventh Street to the east (although it may not be named this), and end in a cul-de-sac, Borglund said.

The plans include 20 townhomes built on about six acres of land that are meant to attract retired residents. The development is being proposed by Tim and Elloyd Hauser, of T&E Development.

The development was approved 4-1 by planning and zoning.

The council approved the development, but also granted a last minute request by T&E Development to waive the SAC/WAC charges which amounted to $36,000, said City Administrator Doug Borglund.

The reason the Hausers asked to waive the fees was because they found out belatedly that the Department of Natural Resources designated the body of water near the development as an "environmental lake," meaning that it requires setbacks twice as far as usual, from 75 to 150 feet. This meant fewer units could be built on the lot, 18 instead of 25, which impacted the project's revenue, Tim Hauser said.

The amount waived for sewer and water hookups nearly equals how much the city would have to pay to remove and relocate the existing 8" inch sewer line, which the developer is doing on behalf of the city, Borglund said.

The developer is picking up all other costs, including curb and gutter, Borglund said.

Another wrinkle in the Orchard Terrace approval process was the existence of a single family home located on the property to be developed.

The council approved two sets of plans, depending on the wishes of the homeowner, whether the family decided to stay and have the development build around them or to sell the property to the Hausers and relocate, with the house being demolished.

A somewhat bewildered property owner, Brian Martinson, offered comments at the council meeting, indicating that they did not know what to expect next. "We''re sitting in the middle of these plans," he said.

Martinson indicated that there were unanswered questions about the sewer lines, and that they were concerned about the safety of children during construction.

Hauser reassured Martinson that regardless of whether his family stays or goes, he will be sure to take care of any issues they had. "We'd be more than happy to hook up their sewer lines (if the Martinsons decide to stay where they are)," Hauser said

There will be orange safety fencing put up to keep the contractors in, and children out of the construction area, he said.

Legion may expand

The Howard Lake American Legion asked to change the zoning status of its building located at 616 Seventh Ave, to accommodate possible future expansion.

To accommodate this, the council approved rezoning of its current building from a Highway Business District zoning to a City Center zoning. This will allow the Legion to build to lot lines in order to expand.

The Legion is required to submit site plans for review and obtain a survey and building permit before it is allowed to expand.

This move was approved by the planning and zoning 5-1.

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