St. Michael flexible on developer’s request for smaller lots

The St. Michael City Council reviewed a developer’s request for an updated concept plan to include smaller lots at the “O’Donnell/LaBeaux” property along Gonz Lake in southwestern St. Michael.

Trying to meet market demand at County Rd. 19 site

The St. Michael City Council agreed there were no major objections to a developer’s request to allow smaller lots sizes at a housing site abutting Gonz Lake west of County Rd. 19.

The council also approved a joint sewer agreement with Albertville concerning a proposed 182-lot development in St. Michael near the Albertville border.

GONZ LAKE

Community Development Director Marc Weigle updated the council regarding the recent Planning Commission meeting, where the commission considered a request to allow smaller lots than was initially proposed two years ago.

The “O’Donnell/LaBeaux” site is located along the eastern shore of Gonz Lake, in southwestern St. Michael just west of County Rd. 19 and just north of 15th Street.

Weigle said the Gonyea Development Company has included a new concept plan for the site. He said the original concept had minimum 70-foot wide lot sizes, but after talking to regional builders about market trends, the developer is now requesting a mix of single-family lots with minimum lot widths ranging from 55 to 73 feet wide, in addition to larger lots on the Gonz Lake peninsula.

Gonyea’s Justin Bannwarth told the Planning Commission that younger families prefer more home square footage and less property to maintain outside, with a lot of success with villa type homes (detached townhomes).

Commission members were concerned with limited storage space in the proposed smaller homes, and Bannwarth said the homeowners buying the properties would understand the limitations, and that outdoor storage and landscaping requirements would be maintained by the homeowner’s association.

From the city’s standpoint, Weigle said the smaller lots are more efficient, with less street to maintain for each house. He said St. Michael’s ordinance requires a minimum garage size of 400 square feet, regardless of house size. He added that a Planned Unit Development would allow flexibility for some trade-offs that are of benefit to the city, such as extra trail connections, open space or other public amenities.

Weigle concluded that, overall, the commission is comfortable with 55-foot wide villa lots, but wants more details regarding architecture plans for the single-family, 55-foot wide lots.

Mayor Kevin Kasel and councilors Cody Gulick, Matt Kammann and Keith Wettschreck expressed some hesitancy with the smaller lots, but overall had no major objections since there does appear to be a market for smaller lots, and that this project has a mix of lot types.

ALBERTVILLE AGREEMENT

In other matters, the council considered a joint sewer agreement with Albertville concerning the “Fieldstone Passage” residential site near Fieldstone Elementary School and St. Michael-Albertville High School.

Excelsior Group is proposing 182 lots at the site, and the sanitary sewer for the project is proposed to be serviced from the city of Albertville, which also services STMA High School and Fieldstone Elementary (each located in St. Michael). There isn’t capacity in the existing St. Michael trunk lines to service development in that area.

Community Development Director Weigle said the Albertville City Council approved the joint sewer agreement. He said Fieldstone Passage residents would pay Albertville sewer rates plus an additional 3 percent administrative fee. St. Michael would still own and maintain the sewer lines.

Councilor Gulick said he appreciates the cooperation between the cities and hopes it continues in the future.

Weigle earlier this spring told the council that the developer would like to begin grading the project this fall “with possibly one or two model homes started before winter.”

The council unanimously approved entering into a joint sewer agreement with Albertville, contingent on city attorney and city administrator approval.