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August 11, 2020

7/10/2020 2:50:00 PM
Development at old Lakeside School site draws public input

The Chisago City Council will see a recommendation at its meeting July 28 to enact a rezoning for the old Lakeside Elementary School property and to accept a preliminary plat for its development.  The Chisago City Planning Commission reviewed both applications last week and supported the rezone for townhome use and supporting a docking arrangement on Little Green Lake.

There are just under eight acres in the buildable area which the developer, High Pointe Land, is working on with the city, using a tool called a Planned Unit Development.

Under a PUD the developer gets some considerations to deviate from the usual conditions in exchange for doing some things the city really wants.

In this project;  houses on the northeast bay of Little Green Lake are pushed back from shore farther than normally mandated in the DNR recommended tiers-- but lots then can be made smaller and side setbacks (closeness to another structure) shrunk.

Developer Don Skelly explained trees are being preserved and community open space are dedicated to uses such as storage, that oftentimes isn’t adequate and results in clutter causing neighborhoods to appear unsightly.

This will be a Homeowners Association site or HOA.  Developer Don Skelly, High Pointe Realty said various concerns can be written into the HOA contract governing residents.  He would write mandatory donations for the lake association into a HOA contract if necessary.

Not even a PUD seemed  to address all the concerns from about two dozen  people submitting questions on-line during the Facebook Live stream format used for the Planning Commission hearing.  

Multiple letters mailed into city hall in advance and e mail contributions were also read aloud expressing many issues.

Only Planning Commissioner Roger Trivette in the end, opposed approval of the preliminary plat.  

The subsequent vote to allow new zoning was unanimous.

The final plat is where issues will get ironed out, planning commissioners maintained.

The “Lakeside Villas” property is at the westerly edge of downtown Chisago City and was zoned for decades as  Public /Semi Public.
If the rezone is adopted by council it will be an R-3.  The developer said the land sale with the Chisago Lakes School District has not closed yet. He stated at the hearing he made an offer a year-and-a-half ago.   

A commercial property marketing firm was hired by the district at the November 2019 school board meeting.

The city planning commissioners commented that they had a work session  on Lakeside Villas preliminary design prior to last week’s hearing.

The developer stated last week he  has walked the land with potential buyers, and  there are three builders who will start this fall.
People living near to the property questioned the planning commission hearing notice (the one that said 37 acres) which was incorrect.  Staff said this typo doesn’t materially affect the process.  

Staff explained legal requirement for notification is 500 feet out, but citizen comments were that a project this dense and impactful should have been made known to everybody living on Little Green Lake.

One concern is the 120 foot long dockage, with a possible number of about 50 boats.  The Lakeside Villa marina juts into the lake, at a spot where the lake is reportedly five feet deep.

Density was a repeated concern, (see graphic)with the PUD allowing for lots of 59 feet wide for the townhouses.  The Lake front lots can be calculated at 25 percent impervious surface, but the city doesn’t have an average impervious for the whole plat yet, it was stated during the hearing.

Planning Commission member Dresel remarked there are “tight lots all around Little Green.”

But, Highway 8 is not the main access for those other neighborhoods.  Traffic congestion on cluster developments elsewhere has alternative routes on which to disperse, the public responded.

The  Lakeside Villas location has a busy highway along the non-lakeshore side of it, and there are no lights at the nearest main intersection, Karmel Avenue.  

Stormwater runoff, and the potential that the HOA will use a commercial landscape maintenance company (chemical weed control, fertilizers) caused many people to express worry how this plat will impact lake water quality.

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