Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Aug. 5, 2002

Another housing development planned for Winsted

By Julie Yurek

The west side of Winsted may look very different in the future, pending council action on a large residential development known as Grass Lake Farm of Winsted.

The development plans include 159 single family homes, to be built over two phases, with an extension of Main Avenue featured in the plans.

The preliminary plat of the first phase received the nod from the planning commission during its meeting last Monday.

The city council will consider the plans during its next meeting Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Grass Lake Farm will be located south of Main Avenue and Grass Lake Road. It is planned to be about 68 acres, said developer Mike Crosby of Landmark Midwest.

The conditions include compliance with DNR shoreland overlay district requirements for Grass Lake, restricting the widening of Main Avenue to phase two, and that phase two be set as an outlot.

The development will be constructed in two phases. The first phase will accommodate about 70 homes.

Construction will likely begin this year, but they are unsure of exact start dates, said Engineer Richard Copy of Schoell and Madson.

The average size of a lot is 10,000 square feet, Crosby said. Homes will range between $135,000 and $195,000, he said.

Before taking questions from the public, Copy explained one of the first problems that needs to be resolved.

The DNR has a setback rule of 1,000 feet from Grass Lake's shoreline, Copy said.

The exact shoreline has not yet been determined due to the wet weather, he said. He was informed of the DNR setbacks only as recently as July 26, three days before the planning meeting, he said.

Any lots that fall within the 1,000 feet of the shoreline must be 20,000 square feet, according to the DNR, Copy said.

The setback affects the majority of the second phase of the development, Copy said.

He showed a diagram of the development, with phase one in color, phase one in black and white, with a red dotted line where the estimated shoreline setback was. Copy used a survey done several years ago to get an idea where the Grass Lake's shoreline may be, he said.

He hopes to have a survey done sometime this week, weather permitting, he said.

The dotted line did interject into a small section of phase one, which affected about eight lots.

If the setback ordinance does fall into phase one after the survey is conducted, those lots will need to be increased to 20,000 square feet, which would either require taking out a few lots to accommodate the larger lots, or to expand west into phase two, Copy said.

If the shoreline setbacks end up cutting further inward in phase one, "it would be back to square one," Copy said.

The issue that caused concern for many residents was the suggestion of abandoning Grass Lake Road west of the city limits and incorporating it into phase two.

Winsted Township and the City of Winsted each is responsible for half of Grass Lake Road.

Phase one and two both feature extensions of Main Avenue.

The plan was to make Main Avenue a 40-foot wide, nine-ton road. Grass Lake Road would be a 32-foot, seven ton road.

However, residents had a different suggestion.

One man pointed out that Main Avenue is undergoing construction to make it a nine ton road.

"Why have two nine ton roads parallel to each other and only a few blocks apart?" he asked.

A suggestion was made to make Grass Lake Road and the west half of Main Avenue in phase two a nine ton road instead.

The nine tons would allow farming and commercial vehicles to drive through the development if necessary.

Brent and Barbara Schank are concerned about accessibility to their property located on the corner of Grass Lake Road.

The Schanks asked the planning commission to table a decision until issues are dealt with.

"How's it going to impact us?" Brent Schank asked.

"Abandoning the road benefits the city and the developer," Schank said. "We want our property to benefit also."

"We want to be considered in this process," he said.

"Nobody will be without a road," Mayor Don Guggemos said.

Economically it is cheaper to build a new road than it is to repair it, Guggemos said in reference to abandoning the gravel road and putting a new Grass Lake Road in the development.

The city council decides if any road can be abandoned, Guggemos said. If that were to happen, people living on that road would have to be notified and there would be a public hearing, he said.

"We will work with you," Copy told the Schanks. "Nothing with Grass Lake Road would happen until phase two."

Other features in Grass Lake Farm include a three and a half acre park dedication and three wetlands, which will total about four acres.

Storm sewer water will collect in holding ponds located throughout the development, and from there drain into the wetlands, which eventually drain into Grass Lake.

Storm water runoff has always drained into the lake, Copy said. "It will now just be in a more controlled manner."

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