Regular Planning Commission


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Meeting Date: 07/22/2021  
By: Chris Anderson, Community Development

PUBLIC HEARING: Consider Sketch Plan and Comprehensive Plan Amendment for the Property West and South of Fire Station #1 (Project No. 21-122); Case of U.S. Home Corporation dba Lennar
The City has received an application from U.S. Home Corporation dba Lennar (the "Applicant") for a Sketch Plan and Comprehensive Plan Amendment for the property generally located west and south of Fire Station #1 and identified as PID #20-32-25-44-0003 (the "Subject Property").  The Applicant is seeking action on a Comprehensive Plan Amendment now, before incurring significant cost in preparing a Preliminary Plat.  

The Sketch Plan is the first of three (3) steps in a Major Plat.  No formal action is required on a Sketch Plan.  Rather, it provides an opportunity for the Planning Commission to provide feedback to the applicant prior to the drafting of more detailed plans required at the Preliminary Plat (2nd step) and Final Plat (3rd step).
The City attempted to notify Property Owners, as reflected in the Anoka County Property Records, within 700 feet of the Subject Property of the request.
Project Summary
The Subject Property is approximately 35.5 acres in size, including about eight (8) acres of wetland. The site surrounds the City Firestation on the west side of Armstrong Blvd. The Applicant is proposing 133 new dwellings, including a mix of single family homes (65-foot wide lots) and attached townhomes.  The proposed net density of the project is 5.1 units per acre.

Comprehensive Plan
The Subject Property is guided as High Density Residential in the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.  This designation requires a density range between eight (8) and fifteen (15) units per acre.  The Applicant has applied for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment to re-guide the Subject Property from HDR to Medium Density Residential (MDR), which allows a density range of four (4) to eight (8) units per acre.

The City can approve a Comprehensive Plan amendment without a formal plan for the site, if the City Council wishes to do so. This can be helpful to set plans for the and solicit projects, if the vision now differs from what is in the Comprehensive Plan (in this case, High Density Residential).

Staff does see merit in the request to reduce the density from 8 -  15 units per acre to 4 - 8 units per acre, since the site abuts some low density residential on the north and west, and is across from low density residential across Armstrong Blvd on the east. All comprehensive plan amendments must receive approval from the Metropolitan Council. Staff has sent the request to the Metropolitan Council for high level feedback on the request, and will follow up with additional information if the Council approves said amendment.

The Subject Property currently has a split zoning.  Approximately six (6) acres (in the northwest corner of the Subject Property) are zoned as R-1 Residential (MUSA) - 80 with the remainder zoned as R-3 Residential (High Density).  A Zoning Amendment would be required to rezone the northwest portion of the Subject Property to R-1 Residential (MUSA) - 65 and the remainder to R-2 Residential (Medium Density). Density transitioning will be required between new lots and existing residential lots. 

Streets and Access
As proposed, there is only a single point of access, which would be off Armstrong Boulevard (directly across from 149th Lane).  The length of the proposed cul-de-sac is about 2,100 feet, which exceeds the 600 foot maximum outlined in City Code.  Staff has recommended that an alternative layout be developed so that the cul-de-sac length does not exceed 600 feet and that a second point of access be incorporated.  Potential options could include acquiring some or all of the parcel to the north of the Subject Property and the Fire Station, if that owner were interested, or possibly along the southern edge of the Fire Station. The City would like to see the site to the north incorporated into the site plan, at a minimum as a ghost plat, to allow a future road connection to the existing cul-de-sac on 151st Ln NW.

Sidewalks and Trail
Sidewalks will be required along at least one (1) side of every public road.  Furthermore, the southwestern part of the Subject Property is part of the Lake Itasca Greenway.  Thus, a trail (or possibly trail easement) would be desired as part of this project. This likely could align with the required 16.5 foot buffer required from the edge of any wetland.

Landscaping and Density Transitioning
A Tree Inventory and Preservation Plan will be required (all oaks and evergreens 4 inches or greater in diameter and all other trees 8 inches or greater in diameter are to be inventoried).  Retention of at least forty percent (40%) of the significant tree inches are to be preserved (or replaced at a rate of 1.25 inches for each 1 inch over the removal threshold).  Landscaping will also be required as outlined in City Code.

As laid out, the project does step down in density moving west, away from Armstrong Boulevard and toward the adjacent, existing single family residential neighborhood north and west of the project.  However, density transitioning is applicable along the western and northern boundaries of the project (the adjacent neighborhood is zoned R-1 Residential Rural Developing).  Those lots will need have an increased depth of 45 feet (or 35 feet if a berm is included) with additional plantings as outlined in City Code.

The Subject Property is located within the MUSA boundary and therefore, sanitary sewer and water will need to serve each unit.  The project does conceptually include stormwater ponding.  Those ponds, as well as all wetlands, will need to be encumbered with drainage and utility easements extending at least 16.5 feet beyond their boundaries.  A street lighting plan will also need to be prepared and included as part of the plan set.

Staff also intends to explore options for extending utilities to the fire station through this development. These improvements are included in the 10-year CIP, and it may be beneficial to the City (less expensive to construct and easier to maintain and operate) to extend utilities to the Fire Station through this development, rather than to extend the existing utilities south and east of the Fire Station.  
Funding Source:
All costs associated with this request are the Applicant's responsibility.
Staff is generally supportive of the Comprehensive Plan Amendment.  However, significant revisions to the Sketch Plan seem necessary.  Most notably, there is a need to modify the layout to incorporate at least one additional point of access and reducing any proposed cul-de-sac to no more than 600 feet. 
Provide Applicant feedback on the Sketch Plan.


Motion to recommend City Council approval of the Comprehensive Plan Amendment and forward the request to the Metropolitan Council for consideration.

Site Location Map
Sketch Plan
Staff Review Comments

Form Review
Inbox Reviewed By Date
Bruce Westby Bruce Westby 07/15/2021 11:32 AM
Form Started By: Chris Anderson Started On: 07/09/2021 10:58 AM
Final Approval Date: 07/15/2021


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