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AUSTIN EDITION -- Housing plan advances

Current residents not excited about new subdivision

By Amy Olson

aolson@postbulletin.com

Rural residents living northwest of Austin have reservations about a Blooming Prairie developer's plan to create a subdivision with 48 homes.

Members of the Mower County Planning Commission voted 7 to 0 Tuesday to allow Jon Olson and Lance and Snow Pogones to move forward with plans to create a new housing subdivision on 112 acres west of Austin in Lansing Township, off 12th Avenue Northwest.

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Olson said he plans to develop the land into 48 lots, each measuring about two acres, with houses valued at $250,000 or more. Groups of four to five houses could share common wells and septic systems.

Olson said he thinks the subdivision will fit in well with other homes in the area.

Olson's attorney, Craig Johnson, said the development is a logical expansion as Austin grows.

"This is a natural, normal progression of development in Austin," Johnson said. He noted there are other subdivisions in the area, and Austin has included the area in its comprehensive plan as an area suitable for residential expansion.

Johnson added the proposed subdivision could increase the values of surrounding property.

Potential neighbors aren't buying that, however.

Darwin Viker said he's not opposed to more houses in the area, but he and others think fewer houses on larger lots would better fit in with the property owners whose parcels measure anywhere from 5 acres to 40 acres.

"I've always been against residential sprawl, but when you have to see it across the road, it really gets you mad," Viker said.

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He added residents now laugh when a local rooster crows and a goat makes a little noise, but new neighbors might complain about longtime residents' rural way of life.

Dan Bowman, who also lives in the area, said there is a 40-acre wildlife area nearby where deer and turkeys live. He said he doubts whether he'd see a tom strut across his driveway each spring if 50 to 100 additional cars drive through every day.

Planning Commission member Myles Bendtsen said he's always been against urban sprawl, but with the site's poor crop land, the subdivision would be a good use.

Mower County Planner Daryl Franklin said the process to plat property into residential lots is a two-phase process, with applicants first coming before the planning commission and county board. If the conditional use permit is granted, developers must then come back with proposed plans showing lot sizes, access roads and other features for a recommendation by the planning commission and approval, denial or modification by the Mower County Board.

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