Summergate Companies submitted a concept sketch plan to the Parks Commission at their meeting last night (Agenda Packet) for a Minnetrista housing development of approximately 200 homes located north of CR 110W, southwest of Saunders Lake, west of the existing Saunders Lake South development, and east of Halstead Drive.
The plan was presented along with a proposal, by one of the land owners, to sell a 28 acre parcel, just north of the proposed development, to Three Rivers Parks District. The 28 acre parcel is adjacent to Gale Woods Farm.
I was surprised staff was recommending, in lieu of the generous parks and open spaces designated in this development, that cash be required instead to go into the city’s Park Development Fund. Below is the staff recommendation from the agenda:
Recommended Action: Motion to direct the Applicant to submit a preliminary plat application, which includes a fair market land value appraisal, with the understanding that cash in lieu of land in the sum of 11% of the fair market value of the land will be required for the park dedication requirement.
This sketch plan is a model of providing plentiful natural open spaces and parks to future Minnetrista residents that will enjoy them and supports Minnetrista’s stated goal to protect the rural character of our community. The consequence of requiring cash in lieu of land is developers will fill in the open spaces and parks with houses to afford to pay the sum to the city. I don’t believe that is what residents want.
If Minnetrista wants to preserve parks and open space we need to encourage developers to do that, not discourage them by requiring cash-in-lieu of land when land is available, as in this case, and appropriately used in a development.
The Parks Commission ultimately made a motion to recommend a reduced amount of cash-in-lieu of land, given the generosity of an additional donation of 40 acres to Three Rivers Park District which hadn’t been considered in the formula for the development’s park dedication requirement. They also decided not to require a fair market value appraisal of the land and for the developer to submit a revised plan.
The next step is the city’s Planning Commission that will study a revised plan in November. Hopefully they will value Minnetrista’s parks and open spaces more than adding cash to Minnetrista’s Parks fund that currently has a pretty healthy balance of close to $1M (according to staff last night).