Baxter City Council: Council hears early plans for commercial, residential development
BAXTER--Wildflowers add bright golden color to the open field just off Edgewood Drive in Baxter, where the vacant land is once again the subject of potential commercial development.
BAXTER-Wildflowers add bright golden color to the open field just off Edgewood Drive in Baxter, where the vacant land is once again the subject of potential commercial development.
Once home to Dan's Sod and the source of speculation for a major retail development during the boom before the Great Recession, potential development plans for the land were before Baxter officials.
The Baxter City Council Tuesday, July 17, heard preliminary ideas for a planned unit development at the site. Minnesota Engineering and Construction Services, based in Cold Spring, requested a review of the PUD sketch plan comments for future development of a 37.89-acre site and a 40-acre site at the southwest corner of Novotny Road and Edgewood Drive.
The sketch plan called for a future subdivision of the smaller acreage into four properties and the larger acreage into three or four properties.
• Development would take into consideration the future western extension of Novotny Road, which currently dead ends at the site not far from the former Book World. Another future road would connect to Lake Forest Road to the north.
• In a report to the city's planning and zoning commission, Community Development Director Josh Doty reported the applicant, while not indicating specific land uses or structures, generally indicated an intent to develop the land for commercial and multi-family residential uses.
• The applicant also indicated an intention to apply for a grading permit to construct a pond to prepare the site for future development.
As the council listened to a preliminary presentation, council member Todd Holman said it seemed an urban street design rather than an rural one would be the best option with the high-density residential component using a paved shoulder like Woida or Inglewood streets or a separated trail. Holman said he thinks the city blew it on Edgewood Drive North considering the number of pedestrians at Jack Pine Brewery in terms of accessibility.
Mayor Darrel Olson noted the water on the site where two homes once stood, one with 2 feet of water in the basement. At the time, Olson said, the homeowner was convinced the water was no longer moving south as it should after Crow Wing County work on Woida Road in the early 1990s.
"My point is the water has been an issue for many years and how we are addressing that is going to be pretty important," Olson said.
Along with wetlands, Trevor Walter, public works director, said the high groundwater is definitely a factor and is what is causing problems with White and Red Sand lakes. Walter said they would have to be very careful on stormwater design and determine where water ultimately flows on the site. Walter said the city hasn't done a detailed study west of Edgewood Drive.
Council member Steve Barrows noted water has to be flowing south into the wetland and into Red Sand Lake. Walter said somewhere in the 80 acres water is flowing to the south and some to the west. With the discussion on the importance of understanding how water moves through the area and how it may affect properties, Holman noted Baxter has one of the most restrictive stormwater standards when compared to other communities.
Council members Quinn Nystrom and Mark Cross were absent.
The city approved the PUD development sketch plan comments for the applicant for the future development of the property incorporating council comments from the meeting.
In the resolution, the council required a wetland delineation be completed for review and noted a grading permit or future development plan was subject to the wetland review process. The city also noted wetland impacts could require changes to the development plan. Other concerns included potentially creating lots that do not meet the city's minimum width because of roadway construction, making sure loading areas do not face Highway 371 or public streets for the commercial development, and creating plans that take into consideration connections for pedestrian and bicycle travel.
The city noted a traffic study would be needed for the site along with a stormwater plan to meet a 100-year event. Plans for grading, ground cover and erosion control are also required to be submitted for approval before a grading permit would be issued.
"If a future PUD general plan application addresses the comments identified in the sketch review and addresses and provides high quality performance standards established through the PUD general plan process, that a mixed use development with commercial and multi-family residential uses could create a feature type of development in the city," the council's resolution approving the sketch plan comments stated.
"It will be nice to see something happen there," Olson said at the end of the discussion.