Neighbors question workforce housing program development
But some of the potential neighbors had plenty of questions during a public hearing at the Rosemount Planning Commission meeting March 20.
The complex would be owned and maintained by the CDA and developed under its workforce housing program, similar to the Carbury Hills townhomes.
The city approved a concept plan and master development plan for the property in 2007, but many of the residents near the proposed workforce housing are uneasy about their plans.
Several residents said had they had known about the project, they wouldn’t have moved there and threatened to move if it is built.
Others admitted they were nervous about their new low-income neighbors.
The Planning Commission approved the plans 4-1.
Commissioner Michael Clements said a simple search would have revealed this site was owned by the CDA, and it hasn’t changed since 2007.
Clements defended their potential neighbors by saying he used to be a low-income person and “I’m a good guy.”
“We hear this a lot any time when higher density residential comes in, people come in an say ‘not in my neighborhood, not in my neighborhood, not in my neighborhood,’” Clements said. “But eventually we’re not going to have higher density, which is what the city needs.”
He said even if he didn’t want them to build the property, telling the CDA they can’t isn’t the role of the Planning Commission in this situation.
“If they want to put an application for what it’s zoned for, we have to allow it,” Clements said.
Melissa Kenninger, commission chair, said the application meets the requirements and they can’t discriminate the type of housing that they build.
The city approved medium-density residential zoning plan with an apartment complex in mind in 2007.
The current plans are similar to 2007 and they are consistent with Rosmeount’s goals for development as well, according to Rosemount Senior Planner Kyle Klatt.
“The housing section of the city’s (comprehensive plan) does encourage a mix of rental and home ownership opportunity throughout the community,” Klatt said. “It does call for dispersing of medium- and high-density housing rather than concentrating it in one area.”
Since 2007, several developments, mostly low-density, have sprouted around the property, including the Greystone development to the north.
Several Greystone residents spoke during last week’s public hearing. One thought CDA was taking advantage of a zoning loophole.
“What is being brought forward tonight is consistent with the overall city’s land use plan and the preliminary plans for the site,” Klatt said. “I wouldn’t call that a loophole. The city is bound to do its planning under the state rules land use planning act and Met Council. The city has to plan for a mix of housing and a needs to accommodate some additional density to comply with those state land use planning requirements.”
Klatt said the research has shown affordable rental housing development does not impact surrounding housing values. He used the current Carbury Hill townhomes in Rosemount at the northwest corner of South Robert Trail and Connemara Trail as a reference.
Carbury Hills is the only other CDA workforce housing development in Rosemount, which was built in 2008.
Some residents were worried the development will be dangerous.
Klatt said he spoke with the Rosemount Police Department, who said the Carbury neighborhood is about the same as any other neighborhood of its size in terms of calls.
Others residents were worried about traffic and said it’s already congested in the area.
“There have been some changes to plans to lower density, so, if anything, there’s been a reduction in the level of traffic out there compared to the preliminary plans,” Klatt said.
Several more road connections are planned in the surrounding area in the coming years, but it bothered one commission member enough to vote no.
Commission Member Brandon Henrie voted no mostly because he said he wanted a traffic study completed, but he also said he worried about the consistency of the housing developing in the area.
Kari Gill, CDA deputy executive director and director of housing development, said they chose the area in part because it was close to the Dakota County Technical College. She said whether it’s a spouse or a child, many workforce families have a member in school.
She also said commercial and industrial property is zoned along County Road 42 to the south.
Residents at the meeting noted that the property isn’t along a bus route, but Gills said the tenants will almost always have a vehicle.
Gill said tenants tend to work in the health care and education fields.
“It is people working in modest-paying jobs,” Gill said.
Rent would be between $630 and $775, depending on the size of the townhome.
The CDA has built several workforce housing townhomes in Apple Valley (three), Burnsville (two), Eagan (five), Farmington (one), Hastings (three), Inver Grove Heights (three) and Lakeville (five).
The waiting list is between 12 and 24 months, depending on the location and size of the unit.
Gill said several times they’re diligent with property management and have an extensive tenant screening process.
With an affordable rent, it allows the tenants to build credit and save to buy a house, Gill said.
Construction is expected to begin in 2018 and the complex would open in 2019.
It’s designed for moderate-income families, with children younger than 19, with an income between approximately $20,000 and $45,000.
The development helps Dakota County reach its affordable housing goal and provides housing for a market not being met by the private market.
CDA owns the approximately 20-acre plot, but the Prestwick Place townhouse would be placed on about 6 acres. Klatt said the CDA doesn’t have plans to develop the remaining property.
Gill said there might not be much interest if they decide to sell it.
“It wasn’t meant as an investment,” Gill said. “We had to buy more property than we were interested. I don’t think we’ll make a lot of money.”
Pamela VanderWiel, Planning Commission vice chair, said while the city has a duty to follow the land use plan and the zoning, residents can influence the future development and reminded city officials are working on its 2040 comprehensive plan.
The Rosemount City Council will make the final vote at an upcoming meeting.