Small city planned near Lake Burgen
A development large enough to accommodate a small city is moving ahead in southeast Alexandria across from the new high school near Lake Burgen.
Not everyone is welcoming it with open arms. Residents living near the lake are worried about the magnitude of the development and its impact on the lake.
LBR Properties is pursuing the development known as Stonemanor. It consists of two parcels, totaling 54 acres, and is located east of Pioneer Road (Highway 106).
LBR plans to build eight apartment buildings - two three-story buildings containing 63 units each and six four-story buildings containing 86 units each. That's a total of 642 multi-family residential units. If an average of two people are in each unit, there could be 1,284 people living there.
Plans call for walking paths, picnic areas, playgrounds, gazebos and sports courts.
The development also has 9.9 acres set aside for commercial use, which is not yet specified, but could include retail stores, a bank, a gas station/convenience store, a dental office or other uses that would serve the surrounding residential community and the new high school.
Access to the site would be from Pioneer Road and 50th Avenue. A new public street would connect 46th Avenue (on the south side of Knute Nelson's Grand Arbor campus) with 50th Avenue and would include sidewalks and bicycle lanes.
Five on-site stormwater ponds are proposed to treat runoff, which would drain into wetlands.
The development cleared a few major hurdles at Monday night's Alexandria City Council meeting.
The council voted 4-0 to approve a preliminary planned unit development (PUD); a preliminary plat; a zoning district amendment to allow the PUD in an area zoned as medium density residential; and a conditional use permit for the initial phase of the project. (Council member Virgil Batesole recused himself from the vote and discussion because he is a rental property owner in the city.)
As large as the development appears to be, the city's existing zoning ordinances allow for an even bigger project - up to 942 units, City Planner Mike Weber told the council.
Throughout Monday night's discussion, Weber emphasized that the preliminary approval is only for the first phase of the construction - the first building and the affiliated private and public improvements. An environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) must be completed before the other phases can continue.
Council members expressed concern that not everyone in the area was notified of the development. Weber said that mailings were sent to everyone within 350 feet of the property, as required by state statute, but the mailing list may have missed someone.
Carlson noted that the EAW process will allow residents a chance to express concerns about the project. Weber agreed, saying that several agencies that monitor drainage will also be involved in the process.
Council member Dave Benson noted that he had received phone calls from residents in the area who were concerned about the density of the development. "It does seem like an awful lot of people for that area," he said.
Council member Owen Miller said that water issues are a big concern. He said that although drainage would be filtered through the holding ponds, residents are worried about sediment getting into Lake Burgen. Miller added that the EAW will address water quality issues.
Later in the meeting, during the public comment period, Keith Martinson of South Burgen Drive SE said that he represented the feelings of about 25 households in the area who are worried about the scope of the development. He said that they live in a beautiful area with swimming and boating opportunities and they didn't want to see that jeopardized.
"Please proceed very cautiously," he urged the council. "Make sure that Lake Burgen does not suffer."
Martinson suggested moving the development closer to Menard's instead of being a "stone's throw away" from Lake Burgen.
Calvin Martinson of Pioneer Road SE said that he would have liked to have received notice about the development plans. He urged the council to use "common sense" in determining the drainage.
Orrin Johnson of Pioneer Road said that he didn't feel the development's location was a proper place for 9.9 acres of commercial development.
Al Edenloff Al Edenloff was born in Alexandria and later moved to Parkers Prairie where he graduated in 1979. While in high school, he wrote sports stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent. Al graduated from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communication and started at the Echo Press as a summer intern in 1983. He worked as a reporter until 1990 when he was named editor. He's earned several writing and reporting awards from the Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA) and the National Newspaper Association. He was presented with the Minnesota News Council's Journalism Accountability Award and is a three-time winner of the MNA's Herman Roe Editorial Writing Award. In his spare time, Al enjoys golfing, fishing, biking, watching sports, cooking and reading mystery novels.