Long-vacant land along Highway 3 gaining interest

Residential developers interested in 10 acres along Red Pine Lane

A plot of land that has sat undeveloped for decades along Highway 3 in southeastern Eagan could see some development soon.

The Lincoln Group Inc. has plans to build 34 twin homes on about 10 acres southeast of Red Pine Lane and Highway 3 in Eagan.

The Eagan City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday to direct staff to submit a comprehensive guide plan amendment to the Metropolitan Council to change the land-use designation from retail commercial to low density.

It’s a first step in the process.

“It’s all speculative,” Mayor Mike Maguire said. “The development can’t come forward with a plan until we make this first step.”

There’s still several hurdles to clear.

Council Members Cyndee Fields and Paul Bakken both voted no. Comprehensive guide plan amendments require at least four votes.

Fields said she used to live in the neighborhood. She said she not comfortable because there’s industrial property and railroad tracks nearby and doesn’t want to “spot zone” the area.

The land has been zoned for mixed office or retail commercial development, mixed residential, single-family residential and limited industrial at times in the past 40 years, but nothing has been built.

“The market hasn’t told you that commercial should stay what it is,” said Maguire, who voted yes. “We haven’t had anyone in here wanting to use it as industrial. The area, to me, is predominately residential.”

He said the council will see if the neighbors share that concern when the plans come back to the council for a vote.

Council Members Meg Tilly and Gary Hansen both felt that, since it wasn’t working as retail, residential development would fit.

There was a plan to build a big-box grocery story on the land about 10 years ago, according to Kurt Manley, a representative from the development team who spoke during the public hearing last month at the Planning Commission meeting, but Kowalski’s, Cub Foods and Aldi grocery stores opened nearby, not at this location.

Manley said based on a market study, the neighborhood is good for upscale twin homes.

Their neighbors would include single-family residential neighbors to the north and Red Pine Elementary is within walking distance.

Another question, if the hurdles are cleared, remains about the West End Hunting and Fishing Club to the south.

They people who live there will likely hear the gun club.

According to a letter sent by a concerned neighbor to city staff during the public hearing last month, a neighbor in a nearby development wrote he can hear gun shots at about 85 decibels while sitting on his back deck and he’s unable to entertain guests until after 9 p.m.

Developers are well aware of the gun club.

Manley said he developed residential property near the gun club in the past, and sales were swift.

He mentioned several times during the Planning Commission meeting last month the developers will add several noise-diminishing features, such as thicker windows, to the houses.

“We’ll take every step we can above and beyond what is required by code,” Manley said.

Scott Swenson, representing the West End Hunting and Fishing Club, spoke at the hearing last month as well.

He had no objection to the development, but wanted it to be clear that potential residents should know there’s a gun club nearby so there will be no surprises.

He said activity is growing at the gun club, particularly due to high school leagues.

“We don’t want neighbors to be surprised or disappointed they can’t be on their deck until 9 p.m. at night,” Swenson said.

Neither did Maguire.

“It should be clear to the applicant they’re responsible to mitigate noise,” Maguire said. “We would like to know how to disclose the buyers about the noise.”

There’s a railroad to the west, which doesn’t have a high use, Manley said.

Unlike a few other Eagan residents, one thing residents wouldn’t have to worry much about is airport noise because it’s outside of the Airport Noise Policy Zone area.

The main access to the development would be along Biscayne Avenue.

At least one wetland is located on the property, thus a wetland delineation will be required.

But first, the Metropolitan Council has to approve the land use designation change and the developers will need another vote by the Eagan City Council.