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Southwest neighbors speak against subdivision

By Matt Russell

mrussell@postbulletin.com

Reasonable growth or unreasonable planning?

Five years after the Rochester City Council rejected Crafthill, a housing development proposed in southwest Rochester, a new subdivision is possible on the same land along U.S. 52 just north of the U.S. 63 interchange.

At its 7 p.m. meeting Monday, the council is expected to consider preliminary approval for Stonewood, a 36-acre subdivision proposed by Badger Pacific Equity Partners, a real-estate private equity company with offices in Wisconsin and Minneapolis.

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Just as they did five years ago with Crafthill, neighbors have protested the development of Stonewood, whose residents would drive winding routes through surrounding subdivisions to reach their homes.

"It’s just not thought out again, just like it was last time," said Kathy Kuhlmann, an area resident who also spoke against Crafthill in 2002.

Concerns about increased traffic played a role in the council’s rejection of Crafthill, with then-council member Dennis Hanson, who is now council president, saying it would "pose significant detriment to surrounding neighborhoods."

Crafthill was originally proposed to have 73 houses but dropped to 66 units before it was voted down. The newly proposed Stonewood would have 50 houses, according to Josh Johnson of Yaggy Colby Associates in Rochester, a consultant to Badger Pacific Equity Partners.

"We’re doing everything that is asked of us and then going above and beyond that to make it a nice development," said Kaya Tarhan of Badger Pacific.

Some neighbors say they want Stonewood houses built on larger lots, as big as two acres, to better fit the surrounding area.

The former township area was annexed six years ago, however, so a higher housing density is allowed because the development would be connected to city sewer and water, said Jeff Ellerbusch of the Rochester-Olmsted Planning Department.

Because the developer is paying for roads in Stonewood in addition to water and sewer connections, larger lots would be expensive and possibly less marketable because costs would be divided among a smaller number of homebuyers, Ellerbusch said.

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The Rochester Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-2 last month to recommend city council approval of the general development plan (GDP) for Stonewood.

Plans for the subdivision allow for more compact growth in the city, planning commission chairwoman Leslie Rivas said at the meeting, adding that people bought homes in the area knowing they were next to vacant land that could be developed.

"If this GDP (for the land) doesn’t go forward, we’ll have another GDP," Rivas said.

Public meeting

The Rochester City Council is expected to consider whether to give preliminary approval to the Stonewood subdivision in southwest Rochester at a 7 p.m. meeting Monday at the City-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. S.E.

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