Is a 20-foot buffer between a residential development and a county park really wide enough?
Not according to the Eagan Planning Commission, which voted Tuesday night to recommend denial of developer Hunter Emerson's proposal to convert the 80-acre Parkview Golf Course in Eagan into a 177-unit residential development.
The developer's plans for the golf course property include a tennis court, basketball court, connecting trails, a pavilion and other amenities. The Eden Prairie-based company also incorporated a mix of housing styles in its proposal to better accommodate retirees, first-time homebuyers and families looking for a larger homes.
Planning commission members praised the diversity of housing and amenities in the proposal, but they took issue with a proposed buffer between the development and Lebanon Hills Regional Park, which lies adjacent to the Parkview Golf Course property. The plans called for a 20-foot buffer strip between the development and park with a mix of trees for screening, plus a 100-foot setback for homes built adjacent to the park.
Commissioners felt the width of that proposed buffer was inadequate to protect the park.
"I think that the buffer is probably a key thing," said Commissioner Dan Piper. Piper called the 20-foot buffer a "hard pill to swallow"—especially in light of comments from Dakota County Parks Director Steve Sullivan, who spoke in opposition to the developer's plans on Tuesday and called for a 100-foot wide buffer.
"We believe that this development has impacts to the quality of recreation [at Lebanon Hills]; we also believe that this development devalues the investment that’s been made in the public infrastructure of the park adjacent to it," Sullivan said.
Sullivan wasn't the only one to speak out against Hunter Emerson's plans. Nearby residents—all ardently opposed to the proposed development—testified at the public hearing on Tuesday that the housing development, if constructed, would lead to an overwhelming increase in traffic, poorer quality of life and reduced property values.
“I cant even begin to tell you what it’s going to be like to live in these neighborhoods if this thing goes in," Eagan resident Christine Soderling said.
Although the 177-unit development would increase traffic on nearby roads, Eagan city officials said the projected increases were still within acceptable levels.
The proposed redevelopment of Parkview Golf Course has been steeped in controversy since Hunter Emerson first announced last year that it intended to purchase the 18-hole executive course and build homes on the property.
In May 2012, the planning commission recommended denial of a Comprehensive Guide Plan amendment that would change the property designation from private residential to low-density housing. But the Eagan City Council overrode the commission's recommendation and opted to send the amendment to the Metropolitan Council, where it was approved in October.
The commission's recommendations are non-binding, and the council is expected to vote whether to approve the guide plan amendment, rezoning of the property and the preliminary development plans in February.
To read more about the proposed redevelopment of Parkview Golf Course, click on the links below:
- Community Members Fight Residential Development Plans
- Parkview Golf Course Fight Coming to Eagan Planning Commission
- Planning Commission Deals Blow to Parkview Golf Course Redevelopment Plans
- Parkview Redevelopment Proposal Draws Opposition from Friends of Eagan Core Greenway
- Memory of Carriage Hills Hangs Over Eagan's Latest Golf Course Battle
- Council Preview: Parkview Redevelopment Fight on the Agenda
- Death Threat Underscores Controversial Golf Course Redevelopment Meeting
- PHOTO: Death Threat Sent to Eagan Council Over Parkview Issue
- Mayor Maguire: Saving Parkview Requires a Community Plan
- Parkview Redevelopment Plans Move Through Met Council Committee
- Met Council Signs Off on Parkview Land Use Change