Met Council gives Parkview plans green light

The Metropolitan Council unanimously approved on Oct. 10 an amendment to Eagan’s comprehensive guide plan that changes Parkview Golf Course’s guided land use from private recreation to low-density residential. – Photo by Jessica Harper

A controversial plan to turn an Eagan golf course into a housing development is moving forward.

On Oct. 10, the Metropolitan Council unanimously approved an amendment to change Parkview Golf Course’s guided land use from private recreation to low-density residential. The proposal will return to the Eagan City Council for a final approval.

Met Council Member Wendy Wulff said she believes the amendment is a local issue that should be decided locally.

Eden Prairie-based real estate developer Hunter Emerson faced resistance from residential groups immediately after announcing its plans in May to build 173 homes on the 80-acre site.

The developer’s plans for the site at 1310 and 1290 Cliff Road also call for a clubhouse, community gathering space, neighborhood parks and a bike path that would connect the new development to the Fairway Hills neighborhood and Lebanon Hills Regional Park. Home prices would range from $200,000 to $650,000.

Though no one spoke against the proposal at the Metropolitan Council meeting, residents packed City Council and Planning Commission meetings in June to voice their opposition.

Several people expressed concerns about the loss of one of Eagan’s two golf courses (Lost Spur is the other), while others said they worry about losing green space.

One group put up signs saying “Save Parkview” throughout the neighborhood surrounding the property, and someone anonymously sent threatening letters to members of the City Council.

Parkview co-owner Robert Zaviheim said he has attempted to sell the failing golf course for some time and determined selling it to developers would be the most feasible option.

Zaviheim entered into a purchase agreement with Hunter Emerson in May, which is contingent upon a guide plan change, rezoning and plat approvals that would allow a project to move forward.

When the City Council approved submitting the proposal to the Metropolitan Council in June, council members agreed the plan would be the most viable option for the property.  Council members added that they fear if they left the property owner without a viable option, the city could face litigation as it did over the Carriage Hills development.

“We can’t favor a public benefit that disproportionately falls on a private property owner,” Mayor Mike Maguire said at the June meeting.

In 2004, the council declined to change its guide plan to allow Wensmann Homes to develop the Carriage Hills golf course property. The city was subsequently sued by the developer, which claimed it incurred losses as a result of the council’s decision. The case eventually went to Minnesota Supreme Court in 2007, and the city settled with the developer before a ruling could be made.

Though Wensmann intended to redevelop the property, its plans were stalled in 2008 by the recession. Another developer has since started construction on the property.

Several steps will need to be taken before Hunter Emerson can break ground. Among other things, the City Council would need to rezone the site as residential and approve detailed plans before the project can move forward.