Eagan City Council, uphold open space zoning at Parkview

by Christie Soderling
Special to Sun Thisweek

It’s not too late to save Parkview Golf Course as open space. The Eagan City Council should take a careful look at the request to rezone the Parkview parcel to residential housing, and turn it down decisively. The thoughtful 2010 Comprehensive Plan is a blueprint for Eagan that guides zoning, and protects and values natural spaces and livability.

The long-standing designation of Parkview Golf Course as Private Recreation, which is sustained in the Plan, complements the surrounding area and is vital to the best interests of all Eagan residents.  The housing development proposed for this site is inappropriate because of its density and location. Listed below are some of the detrimental effects this development would have on Eagan’s residents.

Traffic – A city-approved traffic study documents that burdensome levels of  traffic would flow in and out of the proposed development. The expected traffic volume has prompted the Dakota County Plat Commission to recommend a change to the Cliff Road median that would limit access to right in/right out turns only at Parkcliff Drive and Dunberry Lane, while allowing the proposed development to have a full access intersection.

Traffic safety for the Parkcliff neighborhood would be seriously impaired by re-routing traffic and requiring U-turns on Cliff Road. In addition, the high traffic volume flowing from the proposed development through Fairway Hills would further burden the residents who already contend with excessive Ohmann Park sports traffic and have difficulty turning left onto Cliff and Pilot Knob Roads. Neighborhood traffic volumes would violate the Metropolitan Council’s recommended traffic parameters (see the Met Council’s 2030 Transportation Policy Plan). They would also violate common sense safety and community standards for everyone.

Park Impacts – Both citizens and local officials have major concerns about the proposed development affecting users of Lebanon Hills Regional Park. There is no effective mature wooded buffer that would ensure that park visitors could maintain their sense of being in a place apart. This is a key value for park users, and if the proposed housing development is allowed, the county’s options for using adjacent park property would be restricted in order to preserve a desirable park experience.  Only in its current configuration can the Comprehensive Plan designation for this parcel complement Lebanon Hills Park.

Water Quality – Eagan and Dakota County have successfully teamed up to improve water quality in this part of the city. The location at the top of the highest hill in Eagan means that any water issues cannot be localized to this parcel.  No holding pond scenario can fully accommodate the vastly increased runoff from the paved surfaces of the proposed 177-home development, or the many contaminants that would inevitably accompany the runoff.

These changes would push back the dramatic progress that has been made to protect our ground water resources and clean up our surface water.

Recreation – Parkview Golf Course is the last 18-hole golf course in Eagan. With nearly 40,000 rounds played this past year, it is a viable and thriving business.  Parkview successfully appeals to all ages and a variety of skill levels, supporting kids’ golf programs, local school teams and senior leagues.  It is an asset that Eagan needs, uses, and deserves to keep. We should work together to explore every opportunity to allow Parkview to continue as a golf course.

Park Dedication – This proposal, which removes 80 acres of open space, does not meet the minimum 10 percent park dedication for new developments.  In the final plan, the developer did not even include the four acres (5 percent) requested by the Advisory Parks Commission. This is a disservice to the greater community for whom the dedication requirement is an intended benefit.

Property Values – The city has an obligation to its residents to maintain consistent public policy that allows those residents to make sound financial decisions. If this development were to proceed, well-documented data indicates that many Eagan property owners would lose value in their most valuable assets — their homes. Every resident should have the right to rely on reasonable expectations established by the Comprehensive Plan. Changing that plan without just cause violates those rights.

The best way to serve the 64,000 residents of Eagan is to uphold the current Comprehensive Plan at Parkview Golf Course and protect this valuable open space that benefits us all.  We ask the City Council to stand by its vision that values open space, clean water, and livability.  By doing so, it will preserve opportunities of future generations to enjoy the well-balanced community we treasure today.

Christie Soderling wrote this on behalf of the Parkview Coalition. Columns reflect the opinion of the author.