BAXTER -- With a route selected for the extension of Cypress Drive into the former Pine Meadows Golf Course, the city of Baxter now has to determine how the proposed development on the course will look.
On Tuesday, the Baxter City Council, based on recommendations from several city commissions, approved locating Cypress Drive on the east side of the property closer to the Paul Bunyan Trail. A second option had the road bisecting the golf course.
Several concerns were expressed about the road location as it was displayed on a sketch provided by Baxter Town Center LLC, the company that plans to develop the golf course. On the sketch there was a 30-foot buffer between the trail right-of-way and the road right-of-way. Several in attendance felt that was too small of a buffer. The sketch is required under Baxter's new planned unit development ordinance before formal application is made.
Todd Holman, community development director for the Minnesota Nature Conservancy, said the road as it was placed on the sketch provided by Baxter Town Center LLC was not the option selected by city commissions. He noted that the two options reviewed by the city commissions, presented by Benshoof and Associates, a Hopkins transportation engineering firm hired by the city of Baxter and Crow Wing County to conduct a traffic study, didn't show buffer distances.
Holman said he was concerned that the 30-foot distance on the sketch plan would become the set distance if the city council approved the sketch. Baxter Mayor Darrel Olson said the city's goal Tuesday was to select a route, not set specific numbers on buffers. He said the 30-foot buffer shouldn't have been included in the sketch.
"This is simply a comment period to open up discussion" before Baxter Town Center LLC goes through the PUD process, said City Attorney Brad Person. "The council is not locked in any way in the terms of this layout. Anything is possible."
The city council, however, rejected Baxter Town Center LLC's sketch because it lacked specific the details that are required when the developer would submit its planned unit development application.
As submitted to the city council, the sketch showed a section of the property for senior housing and other apartments; a section for a medical or dental clinic, restaurants or a day care; a section for retail sales or a gas station; a section for pedestrian-friendly shops; and a section for an entertainment district.
Council member Mark Cross said the sketch should have included more detail on where buildings and parking lots were to be located, buffer zones and storm water layout -- things that will be required in the PUD process. In denying the sketch, the council asked Baxter Town Center LLC to return with a more detailed sketch to the city.
"This is so far from what is needed for a PUD application," Cross said. "There's no information there."
Olson also suggested more buffer area be included in the area around Country Club Estates housing area adjacent to the golf course to protect those residents.
Craig Fink, a partner in Baxter Town Center LLC, said the sketch was all his group was asked to bring to the council meeting. Jaren Johnson, Baxter Town Center LLC attorney, said his group probably wouldn't be developing the entire property, but would instead be selling to different developers to build, making it difficult to determine where buildings would be located.
As an alternative that doesn't take into consideration an extension of Cypress Drive, Baxter Town Center LLC also has submitted to the city a preliminary plat to include 45 single-family dwellings along with a mixture of office space and commercial buildings. The city has until Aug. 26 to act on the preliminary plat, but would likely reject the preliminary plat if a new sketch is submitted.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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