Fletcher Hills Addition gets OK, despite neighbors’ protests

By Sue Webber
Contributing Writer

The Fletcher Hills 2nd Addition final plat and development agreement won approval Aug. 22 from the Rogers City Council, but some of the neighbors aren’t happy about it.

The council originally approved the project in September 2014, but the approvals have expired and the applicant has reapplied for approval, according to Sheila Sellman, Rogers City Planner and Community Development Coordinator.

The proposed plat will create 17 single-family lots on a cul-de-sac, an extension of Poate Court north of Territorial Road. Lots range in size from 14,090 to 29,108 square feet, with an average of 19,090 square feet. Additional right-of-way may be needed along Main Street and Territorial, Sellman said.

Several residents opposed to the project appeared at the Aug. 15 Planning Commission meeting and voiced concerns about traffic, speeding cars and lot sizes, since only two lots are under the 15,000-square foot requirement by which the existing neighborhood lots were developed.

Some residents are concerned about access to the development.

“Traffic has always been a concern,” Sellman said.

City Engineer Bret Weiss said the area was always intended for development, and added that the current proposal is the same as the original plan in 2014.

He estimated that the 17 single-family homes will generate another 170 vehicle trips a day to the area. All the traffic is destination traffic, rather than pass-through, and includes garbage, mail and delivery vehicles, Weiss said.

A number of residents spoke during the hour-long discussion.

“We’ve got a good bit of traffic already,” resident Clint Foster said. “Seventeen more going around this fairly sharp corner is going to be tough. All the construction traffic coming through the same location is going to be even more difficult.”

Though he has talked to Rogers Police Department about conducting a speed study in the neighborhood, Foster said, “The police are never able to catch the [construction] people bringing in heavier loads than what is legal. That’s going to be happening here, too.

“If and when something happens, it will be catastrophic. We want to prevent that from happening.”

Weiss said the property has to be developed, and conceded that “for a momentary time you will have some disturbance. The increase will be somewhat incremental. There’s not much we can do about the traffic during construction.”

Councilor Darren Jakel suggested that residents call and complain to the companies whose trucks are exceeding the speed limit and ask them to slow down.

John Seifert, Rogers Public Works superintendent, said the city has a 5-ton limit for trucks, but added that the loads of wood and cement needed for construction are going to be heavy.

“This is a beautiful neighborhood, and this addition will enhance what you have there,” Mayor Rick Ihli said. “It will be inconvenient for a while.”

Police Chief Jeff Beahen said the Rogers Police Department has received 13 calls for service in the Fletcher Hills neighborhood since 2012, and only two have been about overweight trucks.

“We’ve had no accidents there in seven years,” Beahen said. “The development was put in with natural traffic calming [measures], though the curve may seem like a handicap.”

Weiss asked that the neighbors “give us the benefit of the doubt. We will support you. We have a great Police Department and a strong Public Works Department. There will be more traffic, but it won’t be a problem for a long time.”

Adding that he appreciates the residents’ concerns about traffic during construction, Weiss added, “You are our eyes and ears. If you see someone who is a problem, we can take care of it for you.”

Ihli agreed. “This is a work in progress,” he said. “We’re not going to abandon you. We will make sure you and your families are safe. That’s a promise.”

Resident Duane Erdman said residents need another access out of the neighborhood. “The traffic is always an issue,” he said. “It’s never going away.”

Erdman also took issue with the city’s allocating money to study a pedestrian crossing for Interstate 94 that he said will affect only about 50 walkers a day. “Why can’t that be put into Fletcher Lane now?” Erdman said. “That makes no sense, council. You guys are way out of whack.”

According to Weiss, the city is trying to leverage outside funding for the Fletcher Lane project. “It would not be prudent to put more traffic on a gravel road,” Weiss said. “I ask you to have a little faith in what we’re doing.”

Ihli said Rogers officials ask Minnesota legislators every year for funding for the Fletcher Bypass. “We want that built,” Ihli said. “It’s one of our top priorities. We have 17,000 cars a day on Main Street now.”

Calling Fletcher Lane “an old farm road,” Erdman said, “It needs to happen now or later, and earlier would help us. It’s a big critical thing to get us out that back door.”

The Fletcher Lane project design is slated for 2018, Weiss said. “We have to put skin in the game if we want to get dollars back out,” he said. “Two years from now is absolutely the fastest it could go.”

Erdman added that he has “a bad opinion about 17 lots versus the original 12 that were proposed.” And, he said, “I don’t want to see these big trucks coming down my street. I’ve worked for these contractors for 40 years, and I know what these people do. It’s seven days a week, all day long, and late. You’re disrupting people who’ve got to listen to the equipment roar or the steady beep of the back hoe.”

However, Weiss said most people would like to get the work done as soon as possible, rather than lengthening the time frame.

Councilor Mark Eiden agreed, adding that the original proposal was for multi-family housing on the site. “The residents want the project done as quickly as possible,” he said. “Isn’t that the best outcome?”

Results from a five-day speed study in the Fletcher Hills neighborhood should be available by Aug. 30, Beahen said.