5/24/2018 3:54:00 PM Town-within-a
town proposed to meet housing needs
Paxmar, a Minnesota firm that packages comprehensive development plans and readies sites for approved builders, was in North Branch last week to explain a layout it proposes on 80 acres in the northwest corner of the city. The development could require five years or so to fully build-out, the city council was told by a Paxmar representative May 15. Many players are already expressing interest in being involved in the project, as far as bringing in a convenience store, a seniors’ building, etc.
The council was reminded by the firm spokesperson, Kent Roessler, that Paxmar has a track record of doing these “master plan communities” and in this region of the state many homebuilders are on deck and ready to be tapped to participate. Examples of a Paxmar project include the Wood Duck Ponds neighborhood and the twinhome/single family plat on 8th, both are in North Branch.
This site is planned for a mix of dense housing apartments-style, patio homes for those who want one-level walkout no basement housing, twin homes, and single family houses. A five acre park is in the early plans too.
Council members heard from Richard Hill, city finance director, that preparing the 80 acres for development will not require city bonding. Hill said talks are “still in the early stages” but the city anticipates 80 percent of costs for bringing in municipal sewer and water and other improvements will be covered by non-city funds. The sewer and water enterprise accounts have balances available for infrastructure and city fee waivers or reductions are expected to be applied.
North Branch Water & Light, a stand alone entity, would be responsible for the water network extension, is involved in this review of plans along with city officials. In North Branch just the wastewater system is municipal-owned and operated.
The next step will be a concept plan and then an environmental assessment will be necessary due to the size of the proposal.
Sewer would be extended to serve the project from the east along 400th, and water will come up from the south end of the site, currently crop fields across from Lamperts, on Flink Avenue.
Mayor Kirsten Hagen Kennedy observed this is “a little bit of a dream come true” basically addressing all the housing needs arising from a recently completed North Branch housing study.
Council member Kelly Neider commented that she’s “not a big fan” of high rise structures (there are four buildings of multiple levels in preliminary plans for 50 to 100 units each) but otherwise she is “on board” for the project to proceed.
City Administrator Renae Fry said the council should see some cost estimates based on engineering review of the needed projects in June and could be reviewing a concept plan by July, where financing might be discussed. “We will hold six or so meetings...and be able to bring something much more tangible to you,” soon, Fry concluded. The final plat could be ready by fall.