ROCHESTER — Neighbors have threatened to appeal and potentially go to court over an approved waiver related to an affordable housing project on the southern edge of Country Club Manor.
“If this is approved tonight, we will definitely appeal this decision, and if the (Rochester) city council does the same, we will seek legal advice,” Terry Fields told the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals during an interview. a public hearing Tuesday before council. 5-1 vote to approve the waiver requested.
The application sought leniency related to the amount of impermeable surface allowed within 300 feet of Cascade Creek, which is south of the site and across Country Club Road.
Fields, who was joined by about a dozen neighbors from the site of the proposed apartment, said the developer should have been required to prove that the relaxation of the rules would not affect neighbors.
Existing limits restrict the amount of solid surface, such as buildings, sidewalks and parking lots, to 25% of the defined area, but the developer has asked to increase the percentage to 60% for the affected part of the property.
Titan Development is planning a 72-unit apartment complex, dubbed Manor Hills, on the site. The project has been approved to receive state tax credits and local tax increase funding to keep rents below market rates.
The developer is reportedly looking to fill a funding gap, but city staff said construction is expected to begin in August with completion expected in 2023.
On Wednesday, Rochester Community Development staff recommended the waiver be approved, as long as it could be proven that the results will not be detrimental to neighboring properties.
“The plaintiff has not fully demonstrated that exceeding the 25% impervious surface requirement will not materially adversely affect other properties in the area,” the staff report states. “However, the same could be true at this stage of the development process, even if the proposed project complied with the 25% impervious surface requirement.”
Allison Sosa, Rochester’s planning supervisor, said increasing the impermeable area on the site will make it harder to meet city requirements that prohibit new construction from diverting stormwater to other developed properties. .
“The water that draws on this site is going to have to be managed,” she said.
Jason Scrimshaw, project manager at Kimley-Horn, which is under contract with Titan Development for the project, said analysis is continuing in efforts to design the property to handle runoff from neighboring church property. People of Hope, as well as other higher ground, which includes neighboring houses.
He said two ponds are planned to manage the water that fills the site, which will be raised during the construction of the planned apartment complex.
Zoning Appeal Board Chairman Kurt Wayne said he understands neighbors’ concerns about potential flooding, but added that the developer’s team appears to be aware of challenges with the terms of the approved waiver. .
“We’ve heard what I think are some very good responses from the claimant. There are ways to mitigate that,” he said, noting that continued review is expected.
Neighbors said they are still concerned that more stormwater will be channeled into their properties and basements if the project is allowed to go ahead.
“When I heard about this development I was a bit appalled by it and the kind of variations they have to do,” said neighbor Melissa Fulton, pointing to existing concerns about standing water in his yard after heavy rain.
“My husband and I will have no choice but to join our neighbors in taking legal action if this unfortunately materializes,” she added.
Neighbor Marty Klann pointed to Country Club Manor’s decades-long history to question the site’s development logic.
“If it was appropriate to build there, it would have been developed years ago,” she said.
Sosa said the neighbors had 10 days to file an appeal with the community development department. An appeal would send the matter to the city council for consideration.
In another action on Wednesday, the council:
Approval of a requested reduction for required parking associated with an indoor play area planned by the Southeastern Minnesota Center for Independent Living near the intersection of Badger Hills Drive Northwest and Superior Drive. A larger setback for the project was also approved.
Approval of a reduction for required parking associated with the expansion of the Old Abe Coffee Shop, 832 Seventh St NW, tied to the planned expansion in the adjacent property.
What happened: The Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals has approved an increase in the permitted impermeable area within 300 feet of Cascade Creek for a proposed 72-unit apartment complex at the south end of Country Club Manor.
Why is this important: The proposed apartment building is being developed to provide below-market housing, but neighbors are concerned about potential stormwater impacts with the new development.
And after: The discrepancy allows the developer to continue its planning efforts, unless the neighbors appeal the decision by asking the Rochester City Council to review the matter.