The Mounds View City Council once again made the decision to postpone the approval of a preliminary plat for “Boulevard,” the property with a MWF Properties development proposal.
The council tabled the item at the Aug. 14 meeting. The matter will be discussed at the Monday, Aug. 28 meeting. It was first postponed at the July 24 meeting.
MWF has proposed a 60-unit workforce housing apartment complex at the northwest corner of Mounds View Boulevard and Groveland Road. The decision regarding the preliminary plat is the third step of a four-step process. This step would combine the current four lot property into one property. The final step is the approval of a development review, which is the actual approval of the apartment building, an item that is also scheduled for the Aug. 28 meeting.
Concerns with traffic safety has been at the top of the discussion and decision-making of the project. Currently, the proposal plan features a vehicle access point on Groveland Road on the east side of the building. This has been a concern for residents and the council, as it would add a significant amount of traffic on the residential road. There are also concerns with vehicles turning east onto Mounds View Boulevard from Groveland since the intersection does not have a stop light.
The original development proposal had access to Mounds View Boulevard, which was turned down by Ramsey County. At the meeting, Ramsey County Traffic Engineer Erin Laberee spoke about the decision on denial of the access point.
Laberee referred to the county’s access management policy, which states that access for a development should come off a minor road, which would be Groveland in this case. The policy is meant to control access onto county roads for safety and traffic flow.
Councilmember Gary Meehlhause asked Laberee what the process would be to get a traffic signal at the intersection. Laberee said the intersection would have to meet a traffic warrant, eight standards that are mostly based on volume of traffic on both the major and minor road. She said spacing could also be an issue for a potential installation since the intersection is only about 1,000 feet from Red Oak Drive.
“There is a lot of analysis that needs to happen to decide what to do to make the intersection safer,” Laberee said.
Councilmember Bill Bergeron said the concerns raised from residents about traffic safety and neighborhood disruption could be resolved with the original design that came from the developers.
“I am concerned that the county seems to be more intent on maintaining their policy than listening to the residents, or even to the city, and that does disturb me greatly on this matter,” Bergeron said.
Bergeron asked what compelling reason it would take for the county to consider allowing access onto Mounds View Boulevard.
“Someone needs to tell us why we are being unreasonable,” Laberee said. “Groveland Road is a public road, it’s made to handle traffic. The traffic generation from this site is not unreasonable to go onto Groveland.”
Bergeron asked about an appeals process to where the city can make their case for a compelling reason to the county.
Laberee said the council could speak to her public works supervisor, although many developers run into similar situations and exceptions cannot be made for all situations.
Postponing the decision
Meehlhause asked Laberee about a scenario if the corner parcel of the property, 7980 Groveland Rd., was not part of the development. This parcel is the property that connects the development to Groveland. If it was not included, the development would not have a connection to the residential road, thus bypassing the policy by Ramsey County.
Laberee said that although the county cannot legally land-lock property, they want to try to work with communities and developments and come to an agreement.
The council decided to table the preliminary plat decision at the request of MWF Development Manager Chris Stokka, who said that postponing the decision could allow for more time for discussion and negotiations with Ramsey County. Stokka also said that the development review is on the Aug. 28 council agenda, and it would make sense for both items to be discussed at the same meeting.
When considering removing the parcel attached to Groveland Road, City Administrator Jim Ericson said rather than omitting the whole lot, part of the parcel adjacent to Groveland could be removed.
“This has happened in the past, not necessarily in Mounds View,” Ericson said. “Counties where they have access management policies like this, there are developers who purposely replat properties so as to intentionally restrict access to the highway, such as County Road 10.”
He added that he doesn’t think Ramsey County would be happy with this choice, as it could be looked at as being disingenuous to collude to bypass policies of the county.
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