2/28/2013 10:53:00 AM City opposed to Stanton project
by Ken Haggerty
The Cannon Falls city council unanimously passed a motion at its February 19 meeting denying any support for a proposed residential development in Stanton Township that is just outside the city limits, off of Goodhue County 24, west of Hwy. 52 - just past the Peterson turkey farm.
The motion also calls for the County to not grant any zoning amendments that would allow the development and for the developer to pursue orderly annexation of the property into the city.
The city has passed on moving forward with an annexation by ordinance in past discussions on the proposal, saying a negotiated and orderly annexation with the Township and other area property owners is its preferred path.
Stanton Township's board and planning commission have unanimously given support for the plan to developer Geoff Griffin, who has been trying to get plans in various forms approved on the property since 2006.
The County's planning advisory committee will consider a preliminary plat for the Little Cannon River Woodlands project on March 18 at 7 p.m., said Mike Wozniak, of the County's Land Use department. Wozniak said the plat calls for 12 single family residential lots, with areas for future development.
Wozniak said County policy discourages rural subdivisions and encourages areas near existing cities to be annexed into cities as they are developed.
City administrator Aaron Reeves and council member Bill Duncan aired concerns that if the project was allowed, at some future point in time, either because of growth or request by property owners, the city is very likely to be asked to annex the property and that to bring it up to city standards for streets and utilities would be very costly. Duncan said he was on a council that went through the annexation of Cedar Hills process and he does not want to see that repeated.
Griffin said he plans to have the water and sewer built to city standards and to be easily accessed at some future date. Duncan noted the plans do not call for the project's streets to be up to city standards and that it is difficult to predict what the sewer and water standards will be in five to 20 years.
Council member LeRoy McCusker said he does not want to see the city grow. He suggests letting Townships do what they want and have the City just sell off sewer and water service as requested.
McCusker said he has a confidence problem with Griffin. He said he felt Griffin misled the City on the urgency of a commercial development when he pushed for and received annexation for a parcel along Hwy. 52 by the proposed new overpass and interchange a few years back.
Dick Peterson, whose farm is between the city and the Griffin property, said he wants to remain in the Township, noting he thinks that zoning best fits a farm feedlot. Peterson noted that if a new feedlot was proposed, zoning restrictions force it to maintain a substantial distance from any existing residence. He thinks the zoning should work both ways, keeping any new housing far away from existing feedlots.
Jack Lucking, who has an orchard in the area proposed for development, said Cannon Falls does not need another ugly, failed development.
Griffin said he has scaled the scope of the project way back and built in buffer areas and fences between the parcel and the turkey farm. He estimated cost of extending city sewer and water at over $600,000. He thinks the homes, estimated in the $350,000 range are unique to the market as they include access to a central horse barn and shared pastures and trails.