Friends of the Eagan Core Greenway

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-----Original Message-----
From: Jack G. Conrad [mailto:jackgconrad @]
Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2004 12:55 AM
Cc: Ward, John
Subject: Eagan Core Greenway -- Miller Development -- Which Plat Would You Prefer?

Dear Friends of the Eagan Core Greenway,

At last week's Eagan City Council meeting, Council appears to have come to a consensus on which access route to give Ray Miller, the developer who recently purchased Remo Caponi's 6 acres between the Art Park and the City water reservoir. They also appear to be comfortable with permitting such a large-scale development in the middle of the Eagan Core Greenway.

John Ward did a nice job of summarizing key issues that arose in that meeting (which we distributed by e-mail last week).

In many viewers' minds, the central figure in the debate was City Council member, Peggy Carlson.

Whereas members like Mike Maguire raised some thoughtful questions, Council Member Carlson managed to package key issues using very concise language.

Regarding which access to give Mr. Miller (a driveway off Diffley Road vs. using and upgrading the nearby existing [Lexington-Diffley] park road), she argued that to the park entrance would be "only a perimeter road" and it will "save trees" along Diffley.

Yet her most succinct synopsis of the night came while arguing in favor of Mr. Miller's recently proposed 16 unit "cluster" development --- "If not this, what?!"

If you did not yet have the chance to see the two competing engineering plans for Mr. Miller's property, you can find them below (via links to our Web site): (16 units -- engineering diagram from Dec. 2003 [includes access from Diffley; future plat will have access from park]) (8 units -- engineering diagram from Oct. 2003 [includes access from Diffley; alternative plat would have access from park])

At the end of last week's meeting, City Council rejected Mr. Miller's current plat (16 "clustered" units) because its access came directly from Diffley Road. He is anticipating that when he comes back with a plat for 16 clustered units with park road access, Council will approve. And to do so, Council would need to change the current zoning of the property from R1 to "Planned Development," thus permitting the higher density housing.

Again, Council Member Carlson argued that to permit anything besides the 16 clustered units "could be worse."

We don't particularly share that same perspective. To Council's credit, between their two meetings last month, they asked a lot of clarifying questions of City Staff (of Public Works and of Parks & Recreation), for which they received answers -- about traffic, safety, City codes, the precedence of giving a developer access through a city park, and more.

Rather than use scare tactics about potential alternatives to Mr. Miller's 16 clustered unit proposal, the Council might again consider examining evidence, in this case evidence that Mr. Miller himself has provided them with---only two months before his 16 clustered units were draw up. This is shown via the second link above: 8 single family homes, developed on the same flat portion of the property as the 16 clustered units. Note that the "fingerprint" for the 8 single family units is roughly the same size in area as the fingerprint for the 16 clustered units.

In all candor, the only way the clustering in this context would be beneficial would be if the number of units were kept the same: 8 clustered units vs. 8 single family units---in this manner the "fingerprint" for the 8 clustered units would be roughly half that of the 8 single family residences.

The reason why Mr. Miller went to the 16 units in the first place was because he thought he wasn't going to obtain park access and would be required to construct a new road into the property from Diffley (an expensive venture). So, in order to make "the numbers work out" [his words], he doubled the number of units via clustered town homes. The price tags on these town homes, by the way, are estimated to be $600,000.

If you would like to see Council remain faithful to the existing zoning for single family residences, let them know, and feel free to refer to the diagrams above. E-mail addresses for City Council can be found at:

Remind them that according to City Code, the single decision criteria they have regarding the rezoning is benefit to the community. Rezoning will clearly have a great deal of benefit to Mr. Miller---doubling the number of units on the property relative to his plans from late last year. But given the double density, double traffic, and double overall congestion, one would be hard pressed to find added benefit to the community in such a proposal. As one community member put it during the first hearing last month: "Eagan of late is suffering from a growing tackiness in its developments," and this clearly appears to be one prime example of that.

If you share these concerns, do let your Council members hear from you.

Jack Conrad

Friends of the Eagan Core Greenway

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