October 16, 2014 at 1:06 p.m.
Lent Township had continued the public hearing for the Anderson Passe project and the continued hearing October 8 packed the township hall.
Lent Township used its legal authority to impose a one-time 60-day extension on the review period for the permit. But, Supervisors must make a final decision at their next meeting. Failure to do so would automatically approve the permit by default.
The Conditional Use Permit is being sought by a family owned company, KSA-- which is proposing to bring a complex to Lent Township providing soccer fields, a ballfield, volleyball courts, tennis and flea market/farmers market.
Song and Ken Anderson envision this as a seasonal “family oriented” enterprise. The husband and wife have bought 157 acres on Falcon Avenue, south of the County Road 17 overpass. The actual sports and market uses are shown on 90 acres.
The hearing last week intensified the spotlight on issues that township officials and citizens have already expressed about this development.
Their concerns include:
~ The site plan has been subject to revisions and the scope of the proposal changes. KSA representative Joshua Kopp, of Milcon, a North Branch based design-build firm, said any project’s plans are subject to change over time, but township officials lacked a necessary level of comfort with this proposal.
Planning Commissioner Mike Olson said he is being asked to rely on “speculation” in making his decision. “I’m trying to make an informed decision without guessing.”
~ The site is not proposed to be fenced or lighted and security concerns were a priority. While there have been reports at permit hearings that the Hmong Freedom Day, a national event in St. Paul, is rife with crime others who spoke last week said the celebration has had no problems with unlawful incidents. Either way, Song Anderson stated she has no affiliation with this major celebration and no plans to tie any Lent Township sports events into this organization.
~ Plans to allow overnight habitation by market vendors were vague, and some neighbors were worried about this becoming a “tent village.”
~ There is limited parking on the site plan (300 spots total) and if excess visitors for market events or tournaments can’t enter the driveway they’ll just park on nearby rural roads.
The main point that citizens and township planning commissioners kept coming back to-- is that the project will hurt the township’s peaceful character.
Several citizens commented to expect loss of property value due to the impacts of this project; noise, potential to create congestion and that it will bring with it far more regulatory and enforcement costs than benefits. Citizens said there’ll be a need for off road walking/riding paths and widened shoulders on Falcon and #17, and the taxpayers are going to foot this bill. County Commissioner for Lent, Lora Walker, asked about requiring funds in the permit conditions for any accelerated road repairs and Song Anderson said there are no plans to escrow for special road work, adding, roads are the responsibility of the “proper authority.”
The site adjoins the north edge of Falcon Ridge Golf Course and golf course representative John Hamilton stated during the hearing he had concerns about the project being disruptive to course operations, and wondered how the soccer fields (on the complex southern end) were going to be maintained as it’s a wetland-like area.
Tom Hallberg, with Lakes United a youth soccer, reported the program has 960 kids, and that there is certainly a need for soccer fields, but KSA has made no effort to create a relationship with the program. He wasn’t convinced the proposal even meets local soccer programming needs, he said.
Song Anderson stated earlier that she will market Anderson Passe to the Southeast Asian community, attracting athletes associated with her church community and other programs in the Twin Cities that now lack facilities.