In 2018, the Chaska City Council approved a concept plan for housing on the Hammers Farm land.
The 86-acre lot will be developed into an active older adults community, called Pinnacle, southwest of Victoria Drive and Highway 41, pending city approval in the coming months.
The development hasn’t been finalized, but is getting closer, with marketing for the site likely to start this summer.
Kevin Vranicar, who lives in the area, was one of a few neighbors to voice displeasure at the plan at recent City Council meetings.
At the beginning of April, Chaska neighbors put together a letter for the council, expressing concern over the development’s plan. Vranicar said around 35 people signed the letter, and there are currently just under 100 members of a private Facebook group on the matter.
He said the letter contained questions that remained “most(ly) unanswered” and that their concerns were “falling on deaf ears.”
Worries include roads and traffic, the neighborhood’s tranquility, and not expanding nearby park space.
City Administrator Matt Podhradsky said these issues in particular have been addressed. That letter, he said, was included in the council’s Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) and the city also responded in that document. It can be found on the city’s website.
The public review period for the EAW started on March 2 and ended April 1.
“We certainly understand, and they were at the last council meeting, that there are at least a couple residents that were a part of the council meeting that don’t agree with the findings of the EAW,” he said.
The “Findings of Fact and Record of Decision” document, released with the June 1 City Council meeting, addresses changes from the initial plan, land use and zoning concerns, and traffic/layout details.
It also touches on private-versus-public trails in the area, and the city’s reasoning to deny a park expansion.
Some neighbors said they felt traffic concerns weren’t properly addressed.
Podhradsky said the traffic study indicated there shouldn’t be major issues.
“The traffic generation from this type of senior project is actually less than if it would have been a single-family neighborhood, sort of similar to theirs,” he said.
If it were a single-family area, he said each family might have three or so cars, which is more than the incoming older adults will likely have, not to mention a usage difference.
“Senior houses tend to have, on average, less trips per day just because they have less people in the household, but the traffic study did indicate that it will work,” Podhradsky said.
In the letter, neighbors disagreed over the plan’s Highway 41 access, which has a right-in, but not a right-out.Podhradsky said access off the highway was important to the developer. If the units were single-family, he said there likely wouldn’t have been access at all.
Planners with the Del Webb active older adults community want a grand entrance.
“They would create more a of a parkway coming into their neighborhood. This sort of fits their model,” Podhradsky said.
GREEN SPACE DEBATE
Some have expressed worry in not expanding Moers Park, saying it’s an asset to the community and fear the development will encroach the space.
Podhradsky said the park, which includes a playground and field, is larger than most of Chaska’s parks. But with it being a senior neighborhood, with a rec center and private fitness amenities, he said it’s not needed.
Money not used for the park’s expansion is being put into a different park for a future school in southwest Chaska, he said.
“The park is plenty big for what’s already existing there now,” Podhradsky said.
The letter also said the “aesthetic” of the space didn’t fit in with the existing community. Podhradsky said it’s normal to see different housing styles within one neighborhood, pointing to the Jonathan, Clover Ridge and downtown areas.
“A mixture of different housing styles is not uncommon, at least in Chaska, certainly,” Podhradsky said.
One of the last things the council is considering is the bluff line. Staff will need to ensure no homes are too close to the line.
“They still have some work to be able to look at homes’ bluff line,” he said. “It’s really sort of the last thing that needs to be addressed and finalized before they can come back.”
Podhradsky said developers have already seen a lot of inquiries for the homes.
“Personally, I’ve received calls from at least two people that have asked me when those are going to be built,” he said.