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Ownership of dozens of acres changes hands in Chaska

Dozens of acres of land have changed ownership.

Two large parcels of land in north Chaska, totaling 177 acres combined, were sold in July.

One was 52 acres of land owned by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, which was sold to Jeff Verdoorn, according to University of Minnesota documents.

The other was 123 acres, which included the Oak Ridge Hotel and Event Center, owned by Ameriprise Financial and sold to Bobby Atkinson, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

Some of the 123 acres sold by Ameriprise will be turned into a mixed use of office and commercial space, according to City Administrator Matt Podhradsky. The city has talked with the owner of the property about zoning and the owner is “evaluating” the Oak Ridge Hotel and Event Center building.

“My impression is that they are still looking at the existing building and what they want to see it in the future,” Podhradsky said.

The 123 acres consists of several individual parcels that surround McKnight Lake off of Highway 41. So far, the owner has not submitted any requests for rezoning or development on the sites, according to Director of Planning and Development Kevin Ringwald.

ARBORETUM

For the land sold by the Arboretum, Director Peter Moe does not expect neighbors will see much of a change.

The land was sold for $1.5 million to an individual who will build a single-family home on the site, according to University of Minnesota documents. Much of the 52 acres consists of a swath of wetlands and trees south of West 82nd Street, across from the main Arboretum property.

The lot is currently unused, however the Arboretum has used it to store wood chips and at one time had local farmers baling hay on the land to prevent weeds, brush and unwanted trees, according to Moe.

The property was ultimately sold because it did not meet the objectives for being part of the Arboretum, according to officials, which included considerations such as watersheds, existing physical boundaries and the view.

The Board of Regents formally approved the sale of the 52-acre parcel last month, according to the documents.

Proceeds will go toward a $1.313 million loan for the 2013 purchase of 78.13 acres consisting of native forest wetlands and 1,300 feet of lake shore around the city of Victoria’s Lake Tamarack. That property is used for research, protection of wildlife, restoration, education and public recreational purposes, according to the documents.

The land would have been difficult to develop as part of the Arboretum because it is separated from the main property by West 82nd Street, Moe said, adding it would be difficult to expand irrigation and access gates to the property.

Fencing, to keep out deer, is also a consideration.

“It’s easier to fence one large parcel than individual parcels,” Moe said. “It didn’t fit very well into our long-term plans.”

A committee in 1998 also determined Highway 5 and 41 and West 82nd Street and Bavaria Road to be the ultimate boundaries for the main Arboretum site.

The land was first offered to the city of Chaska, Carver County and the state to purchase before it was offered to the public. An offer was made on the property in 2014 for residential redevelopment, however the agreement was terminated after investors declined to invest in the project, according to the documents.

The site will likely remain the way it is, because it is hard to develop a large amount of residential homes on it due to the wetlands on the site, Moe said.

Prior to the Arboretum’s ownership, the site was a dairy farm.


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Twin Cities-area traffic congestion increased only 1% in 2018

Whether putzing through slowdowns or minding stop-and-go’s, Twin Cities drivers experience traffic congestion at nearly twice the rate they did in 1995.

And, congestion across the seven-county area became stuffier over the last year. Moving from a rate of 23.2% congested freeways in 2017 to 24.2% in 2018, the increase was published in the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MnDOT) 2018 Congestion Report. The 1% growth was slight, though, as it fell below MnDOT’s 10-year projection.

“As the Twin Cities grow, and our roads continue to age and deteriorate,” said MnDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher in a press release, “it’s imperative that we identify a long-term, dedicated funding solution to invest in transportation, improve our system’s efficiency and keep Minnesotans moving.”

MnDOT’s 10-year projection trend maps traffic congestion passing 30% in 2024.

Freeways become congested when traffic moves along at 45 mph or less, which is the speed at which shock waves start appearing. Shock waves are the pockets of slowdown where cars may collectively brake for changes such as a lane ending, interchange or crash.

For its report, MnDOT measured congestion with the help of electronic surveillance systems and field observations. The electronic measurements are on about 95% of the metro area freeway system, and are gathered through loop detectors in the pavement, or radar sensors mounted on the roadside.

Factors ranging from population growth to gas prices can impact the congestion rate. The department says it is using ramp meters; a safety response team; 511 real-time travel information; and a management center as strategies to manage congestion.

One of the more obvious knocks at traffic flow is construction. MnDOT says upon completion, some of the bigger projects happening around the metro should lessen congestion.

The intersection of Highway 169 and Highway 41 in Scott County is undergoing construction, with a diverging diamond interchange being implemented, that MnDOT says will trim delays and improve safety.

Another heavy-hitting project is I-35W in Minneapolis. It is a four-year project to add MnPASS lanes, a transit station at Lake Street and more access. This project will continue through fall 2021.