Friends of the Eagan Core Greenway
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From: Jack G. Conrad [mailto:jackgconrad @ earthlink.net]
Sent: Thursday, February 5, 2004 1:23 AM
Cc: Ward, John
Subject: Report on City Council Meeting Regarding Miller Proposal for former Remo Caponi Property
This is a summary from my notes of the part of the Eagan City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 3rd, 2004 discussing the sale of Remo Caponi's 6 acres for development.
Tom Hedges, City Administrator, listed the issues around this development.
- Police and Fire Access;
- The slope of a potential access road from Diffley Rd.;
- Access road issue;
- Zoning issues.
City Attorney Dougherty noted that a "property owner is entitled to an access," however the city agreement currently allowing single dwelling access through the Lexington Diffley playing fields is not entitled to an automatic upgrade. Also, the proposed development is not compatible with the current R1 classification.
Senior Planner Mike Ridley gave a history of the site: this is the third time development has been considered; access has been a problem in the past. The proposed road connecting to Diffley with only right turns entering or leaving the townhouses is adequate for the police and fire departments although the police are concerned about tempting illegal left turns (for cars leaving the property heading west) and U turns (for cars entering the property from the east), both to get around the existing median across the center of Diffley.
Developer Ray Miller noted that access onto Diffley with right turns required both going and coming has been approved by Dakota County. Later the Council discussed a more elaborate connection to Diffley, but probably the county would not approve these changes.
Ray Miller noted that this land was zoned R1 in 1994; the City had no plans for this six acres; Tony Caponi did not return his calls, so Mr. Miller went ahead with his plans which include groundbreaking in the spring-he has owned the land for the past two weeks.
Friends of the Eagan Core Greenway speakers and other Eagan citizens who spoke effectively to voice their concerns:
- Jack Conrad (FOECG): The developer has a right to develop his land; however the city has no obligation to change the zoning to allow for more houses. He also noted the development style is out place and increased crowding with rezoning exacerbate safety and congestion concerns.
- Laura Hedlund (FOECG): She and her family participated the the Medieval fair last summer in the Caponi Art Park noting that it was wonderful and "looked like the 15th century" with isolation in the wooded site. Laura said that "looking up and seeing townhouses" would ruin the feeling of history. Also, she said, imagine how pleased people in Eagan 50 or 100 years from now with preserved greenspace.
- Paul Sears: He has been a resident in Eagan for 19 years and states there is "creeping tackiness" in Eagan with increasing development, both residential and commercial.
- Susan Gauer (FOECG): Susan came with her fifth grade son, Lance, who got to see his mother tell the Council of the heavy use (including by her family) the baseball and soccer fields get at Lexington-Diffley, use involving various ages and leagues. There is a particular safety issue with kids and adults crossing Diffley at places other than the corner, where the light and crossing lanes are located, and a larger development very near there would exacerbate the jaywalking.
- David Burnet (FOECG): David spoke to the council with reasoned calmness reminding them of the changing Eagan, environmental concerns (including clean water) and the council should be "very hesitant" to approve a zoning change.
- John Ward (FOECG): I praised Ray for the "quality" of his developments and gave my opinion that this quality development should take place elsewhere, not within Eagan's parks. Also, Ray has said several times that green space is important to him and, if he can recover his investment, he will not develop.
To that end, Bob McGillivray of the Trust for Public Land ( www.tpl.org ) has volunteered to talk with Mr. Miller so we shall see.
- Fran Breschler: Speaking of us (FOECG), she said, "we are lucky to have this group" and that "it is important (for the Council) to give this group consideration." She has "always followed this issue" and "feel I am representing a lot of people" and it is "better not to rezone."
- Sandra Masin, former City Council member: Spoke of her 1985 service on the Parks Commission and the "vision" then of the Caponi Art Park. She commended the Caponis for staying the course all these years.
- Jan Mertin: The Metropolitan Council has density figures and Eagan is already 15% over. These figures only underscore the fact that this development is not appropriate.
- Steve Cox from Eagan speaking as a member of the Caponi Art Park Board: used copies of Eagan zoning ordinances to demonstrate that the default in environmentally sensitive areas is to minimize impact, not for the economic advantage of the developer, so a rezoning, which the Council is not required to do, may very well be in conflict with these ordinances.
The City Council Members then spoke:
- Mayor Geagan noted that people wanted the city to purchase Diamond T, Lost Spur, Carriage Hills, the McCarthy Farm , the Anderson property and other areas in Eagan but that is not possible.
- Councilwoman Meg Tilley had safety concerns, and encouraged the prospect of TPL's involvement.
- Councilman Mike Maguire noted that the city has an offer for part of the Art Park and this was a separate issue.
Density issues have been discussed but the definition of density hasn't been made; the development is probably is low density, able to be characterized as a "compact development."
- Councilwoman Cyndee Fields had concerns with the hill on Diffley and with combinations of speed and possible weather related slipperiness and the length of the concrete median.
- Councilwoman Peggy Carlson was mostly frustrated by the difficulty of the access and the difficulty of the County and Eagan solving safety concerns.
After general discussion, the council directed Public Works Director Colbert to evaluate and present safety issues for both a Lexington-Diffley park entrance and a Diffley entrance to the proposed development.
These issues and the rezoning will subsequently be discussed at the March 2nd City Council meeting.
Friends of the Eagan Core Greenway