Residents on Bohn Court got an unwelcome surprise last month when a letter arrived in the mail about the plan to build 31 townhomes on the historic farm at the center of their neighborhood.
“I did not buy a house to actually live in a townhouse development,” said Robert Whitehead at a neighborhood meeting on May 29. He and other residents voiced concerns about traffic safety, the quality of the development and the number of proposed units.
Jerremy Foss, a senior civil engineer with ISG and consultant for landowner Bobby Williams, said the plan is to build market-rate townhomes costing around $300,000-$350,000.
ISG submitted an application for a comprehensive plan amendment to change the future guided land use of the farm but asked the request be tabled following the neighborhood meeting. Foss said they’ve been working on concept plans since January, and they are currently reevaluating their proposal in hopes of alleviating some of the concerns.
The request is tentatively scheduled to go before the Savage Planning Commission on July 18.
The 5.8-acre farm at 4562 McColl Drive sold to Williams, the co-founder of Bobby & Steve’s Auto World, for $600,000 in 2017. Current tenants care for bunnies and goats on the property.
Savage Mayor Janet Williams grew up on the dairy farm and today lives next door on Bohn Court.
Whitehead moved to his home at the end of the Bohn Court cul-de-sac two years ago. He said he planned on staying forever, and even though he invested thousands into home improvements, he’ll move if the townhomes are built.
He said he knew the property would one day be developed, but it was zoned for low-density residential when he bought his home.
“My heart just dropped,” he said about when he learned about the possibility that will change.
The proposal will require both a city comprehensive plan amendment and rezoning from low-density to medium-density.
This isn’t the first time residents have rejected a proposal for the farm’s future.
In 2017, developers with the Five Stars Recovery Center sought a comprehensive plan amendment to build a campus-style treatment facility that could house up to 120 adult clients. However, they withdrew their application following a neighborhood meeting, which Savage Planning Manager Brian Tucker described at the time as “pretty hostile.”
He said residents raised concerns about traffic, safety and land-use compatibility, and the developers didn’t want to put the facility in a place where it was unwanted despite city staff members’ openness to the idea.
History of the farm
Kris Kristensen and Einar Hansen rented the Tim O’Reagan farm, just south of what is now Burnsville High School, in the mid-1920s, according to archives compiled by the Savage Library. They operated a dairy farm with a milk route in South Minneapolis and had two delivery trucks, one of which was driven by Williams’ father, Jens Bohn Sr.
In 1938, Kristensen began farming on the corner of Nicollete Avenue and Highway 13. In 1941, he purchased a farm in Savage and moved Lynnhurst Dairy there the following year.
Bohn continued delivering milk on the South Minneapolis route until 1953, when raw milk could no longer be delivered in Minnesota.
In 1959, a large fire broke out at Lynnhurst Dairy. Firefighters kept the blaze from spreading to a 128-by-36 foot barn, according to news reports at the time. A smaller utility barn, five calves, feed and machinery were lost in the fire.
The Bohns continued operating Lynnhurst Dairy until 1968, when the cows were sold at auction.