Ravinia to grow to 270 homes in Corcoran

The Corcoran City Council, Thursday, July 27, granted key approvals for the seventh addition of the Ravinia single-family residential subdivision, making it possible for U.S. Homes (doing business as Lennar) to increase the size of Ravinia to 270 housing units.

At the meeting, the City Council also delved into other issues, such as strategies for developing downtown Corcoran, city finances and the moratorium on solar energy facilities. Here are meeting highlights.

RAVINIA

The Ravinia subdivision, located north of Hackamore Road and west of County Road 101, has grown steadily since December 2013. Then Lennar got preliminary approvals for the planned unit development. Lennar has been building Ravinia in phases ranging from 27 to 43 housing units.

On July 27, the City Council approved the final planned unit development plan and final plat for the seventh addition, located north of Gleason Parkway and west of Carriage Way. The plat shows 36 single-family lots and three outlots.

Lennar now has approvals to construct a total of 270 of the 447 single-family housing units proposed for Ravinia — 60 percent of the development. When Ravinia is completed, it will span 274 gross acres.

Lots in the seventh addition will be 65 feet wide. A neighborhood park and a trail are part of the plat, with Lennar doing grading and landscaping of the park. Residents will be asked for input on what they would like to see in the park.

SOLAR ENERGY MORATORIUM

Corcoran has approved two community solar gardens — one at 23710 Highway 55 and the other at 23850 County Road 50 N. Some neighbors of the County Road 50 facility objected to the project. The city council followed city ordinances and approved the County Road 50 proposal from Minnesota Solar.

After hearing objections from neighbors, the council, in May, enacted a moratorium on community solar gardens to enable the city to review its ordinances regulating facilities for producing solar energy.

At the July 27 meeting, Corcoran Planning Consultant Kendra Lindahl asked the city council for direction on potential changes to the solar energy ordinance. Did the council want to prohibit construction of community solar gardens while allowing options for individuals to produce solar energy?

Options for individuals include solar panels attached to a building, roof mounted solar energy panels and ground mounted solar panels, Lindahl said.

Several city councilors said they were uncomfortable with allowing community solar gardens. They mentioned potential effects on neighbors and financial risks to the city, if a CSG would file for bankruptcy. Councilor Mike Keefe said he wanted to learn more about CSGs and to see how long the industry will last.

The city council supported individual options for producing solar energy.

Lindahl expected to bring a revised solar energy ordinance before the Planning Commission on Sept. 7 and before the city council on Sept. 28. The revised ordinance would eliminate community solar gardens as an allowed land use in all zoning districts.

CITY FINANCES

City Administrator Brad Martens asked the City Council to review a first draft of Corcoran’s 2018 budget. The draft estimates total expenditures to amount to $4,948,361, an increase of $309,154 from the 2017 budget. This amount includes both debt service and the General Fund, which pays city operating expenses.

Martens estimated that the property tax levy for 2018 would amount to $3,936,195, including debt service. This would be a 6.31 percent ($220,030) increase from the $3,716,165 total levy for 2017. He expected the market value of new construction in Corcoran to give city taxpayers $100,000 worth of tax relief.

The City Council will review future budget updates and then approve Corcoran’s preliminary 2018 General Fund budget and property tax levy on Sept. 14. Hennepin County will use the preliminary budget and tax levy information in notices to Corcoran taxpayers in November. The notices will show the maximum amount of taxes a property owner will pay in 2018, with taxes added in from all local jurisdictions, including the city, school district, watershed districts and Hennepin County.

The Corcoran council is scheduled to approve the final city 2018 General Fund budget and property tax levy on Dec. 14. The final figures can be equal to or lower than the preliminary figures, but not higher.

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT PLAN

The City Council heard a presentation from Tammy Omdal, of Northland Securities, about Corcoran’s updated five-year financial management plan. Corcoran adopted its first financial management plan in 2012 to help the city set a schedule for large expenditures and prepare for them financially. The management plan has helped Corcoran implement financing for bringing in municipal water and sanitary sewers.

HOW CORCORAN COULD USE TIF

At a previous meeting, the council asked for information on how Corcoran could use tax increment financing to encourage development in downtown Corcoran. On July 27, Architect Mike Fischer spoke about using TIF districts for redeveloping blighted areas and renewing and renovating areas that need improvements.

Fischer said cities use TIF to encourage development that would not ordinarily happen without financial assistance. He is a City Councilor in Edina, which has used TIF to spark redevelopment.

OTHER

The City Council also:

HEARD a presentation from Donna Hartley describing services available via the I-94 West Chamber of Commerce, including assistance to cities wanting to attract new businesses and supporting existing businesses.

APPROVED a temporary on sale malt liquor license requested by the Northwest Area Jaycees for Corcoran Country Daze, Aug. 17 – 20, at Corcoran Lions Park.

RENEWED liquor licenses for Stanchion Bar Inc.

APPROVED a charitable gambling license for Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for Sept. 9 event at 20037 County Road 10.