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    6.    
City Council Regular
Meeting Date: 04/02/2019  
Subject:    PC 19-3, Consider Preliminary and Final Site Plan for 136 Single Family Homes, PORT Riverwalk, Centra Homes
From: Scott Harlicker, Planner

INTRODUCTION
Centra Homes, the applicant, is requesting preliminary and final site plan approval for 136 detached single family homes. The proposal includes a request for use flexibility for single family homes and density, and design flexibility for setbacks, street pavement width and sidewalks. The applicant is also requesting approval for a corresponding preliminary plat for 136 lots.
DISCUSSION
The applicant is proposing a preliminary and final site plan for a 136 unit single family development. In conjunction with the site plan, the applicant has also requested preliminary plat approval. The site is 43.34 acres; on the west end is a large wetland and low area that is remaining undeveloped. On the east end is Coon Creek. The site plan includes three different housing types, including court homes, two story and single story homes. Main access into the site is from Egret Boulevard on the west and Coon Rapids Boulevard near the center of the site at Avocet Street. The site is being developed at a density of 3.14 units per acre.

Streets, Parking and Sidewalks

The internal street layout works well and is connected into the adjacent street network. The main street through the project, Riverwalk Drive runs west to east through the site parallel to Coon Rapids Boulevard. The north/south streets, Drake, Bluebird, Avocet and Zilla connect with the adjacent streets. The main entrance into the project is located at the existing signalized intersection of Avocet and Coon Rapids Boulevard. This intersection is being upgraded as part of the County's project to upgrade the section of Coon Rapids Boulevard from Egret Boulevard to Avocet (which will be renamed/re-signed as Zilla Street). The single level and two story homes have access from public streets. The court homes have access from private drives. An emergency access from Coon Rapids Boulevard is provided at the end of Riverwalk Drive cul de sac.

Off street parking is provided on the driveways and garages. Four spaces are provided for each of the homes, two in the driveway and two in the garage. On street parking is provided on one side of the public streets. The private drives are not designed to accommodate parking; four designated parking areas are provided, one area at the end of each block. 

Sidewalks are provided along each of the public streets. Most streets have sidewalks on both sides; however, portions of Riverwalk Drive and Bluebird Street will have sidewalks on only one side. A sidewalk is shown on the west side of Drake Street only; a sidewalk should also be provided on the east side that can eventually connect with the existing sidewalk to the south. A sidewalk should also be installed on the west side of Avocet Street. Trail connections are provided between Riverwalk Drive and the Coon Rapids Boulevard trail along the storm ponds located on Outlot C.

Setbacks

Since the proposed use was not contemplated when the setback requirements were established for the PORTs, the setback requirements are geared to apartments and townhomes, not single family detached homes. Staff had to find criteria by which to establish appropriate setback requirements. Staff looked to the setback requirements located in the Varied Density Residential standards found in the River Rapids Overlay District, where single family dwellings are an allowed use as a Varied Density Residential development. The setbacks are as follows:
 
Another principal structure 20 feet
Non-Arterial Street 30 feet from the curb but not less than 22 feet from the right-of-way
Arterial Street 40 feet from the curb but not less than 22 feet from the right-of-way
Interior Access Drive 10 feet
 
The applicant is proposing the following setbacks:

Court Homes
Arterial Streets 40' from ROW
Local Streets 20' from ROW
Between Homes 10'
Interior Access Drive 22'

Two Story and Single Level Homes
Arterial Streets 40' from ROW
Local Streets 25' from ROW (except side yards on corner lots - 20' proposed)
Between Homes 10'

Street Pavement Widths

Street pavement widths range between 37 feet and 29 feet. The code requires a minimum pavement width of 32 feet. Portions of Avocet and Bluebird Streets as well as Riverwalk Drive cul de sac are 29 feet wide. The pavement width on the private streets is 24 feet; which is wide enough for two-way traffic.

Grading Drainage and Utilities

Grading, drainage and utilities are addressed in the City engineer's memo. In general, the applicant has been working with the city and Coon Creek Watershed District on stormwater management. The developer and their engineer has prepared a more detailed landscape plan for the stormwater infiltration basins.  The basins will function for temporary storm water retention and infiltration, but are not intended as open space for recreation.  As part of site demolition, existing streets and most of the utilities will either be replaced or relocated to accommodate the proposed development. Three lots on the south side of Riverwalk Drive cul de sac are within the Mississippi River Critical Corridor Area (MRCCA). Any grading or land disturbance within the MRCCA must comply with the standards found in Section 11-1001 Mississippi River Critical Corridor Area Overlay District. 

Housing Products
Below are descriptions of the three proposed housing types:

Court Homes
The 67 court homes will be located between Riverwalk Drive and Coon Rapids Boulevard. They are designed as a "neighborhood within a neighborhood". The neighborhood will have smaller lots and private streets. The homes are designed with front porches and rear loaded two-car garages. The front of most of the homes will face either Riverwalk Drive or Coon Rapids Boulevard. Some of the homes will face the open areas around the stormwater ponds. The private drives will provide access to the garages located at the rear of the homes. The homes will be two story with a mix of exterior materials. The materials include cement board siding in a mix of lap, shake and board & batten styles. Areas of the first floor will include brick or stone. The roof lines include a mix of gables and dormers.

Single Level Homes
The 35 single level homes will be located at the west and east end of the site along Riverwalk Drive. These homes have everything located on one level; however, many of the homes do include walkout basements. The lots are larger than the court homes and include front and rear yards. To address potential buyers concerns, these homes are placed so that they are not adjacent to the two story homes. Exterior materials include cement board siding in lap and board & batten styles along with a mix of either brick or stone. The roof line is broken up by various gables. These homes include front loaded 2-car garages.

Two Story Homes
The 34 two story homes are located south of Riverwalk Drive along Bluebird, Avocet and Zilla Streets. These homes are larger than the court and single level homes and are designed for growing families. The living spaces are on the first floor with bedrooms on the second. These homes are slab on grade. The lots are the largest in the development. The homes include front loaded 2-car garages with living space above; this design gives the garages a less prominent appearance. The materials include cement board siding in a mix of lap, shake and board and batten styles. Areas of the first floor will include brick or stone. The roof lines include a mix of gables and dormers. The front doors are recessed, covered with a portico.
  
There will be a home owners association that will be responsible for various aspects of the development. The association will provide architectural control, landscaping maintenance and neighborhood services. The association will also be responsible for the private roads around the court homes.

Landscaping

Court Homes
The court home neighborhood includes a mix of  overstory, ornamental and evergreen trees. A mix of overstory trees are planted along Riverwalk Drive, Egret Boulevard and Coon Rapids Boulevard. The average spacing between the trees is 40 feet, which is the standard spacing between street trees on public streets. The overstory trees include lindens, maples, hackberrys and honey locusts. Overstory trees are also proposed between the front of homes facing the stormwater ponds. Evergreens are proposed along Coon Rapids Boulevard at the ends of the private drives and along the side yards of homes; they provide screening for the homes and screen headlights from shining on to Coon Rapids Boulevard. Ornamental trees are proposed along the private drives, to the rear of the homes.

Single  Level and Two Story Homes
Evergreen trees are shown in the back yards of the lots located along Bluebird, Avocet and Zilla. The evergreens provide screening between the homes that back up to each other. Typical landscape plans for the individual lots will be provided; the plan will include foundation planting and yard trees.

Public Streets and Stormwater Ponds
Street trees are planted at an average of 40 feet on center along the public street. The trees are a mix of overstory trees including maples, oaks, lindens and hackberrys. Landscaping around the stormwater ponds will include a mix of native plantings, shrubs and trees to provide a natural appearance. 

Park Dedication

Park dedication in the amount of $272,000 ($2,000 x 136 lots) must be paid prior to releasing the final plat for recording.

Requests for Use and Design Flexibility

Use Flexibility
Per Section 11-903.12(4), Use Flexibility may be approved provided the following findings are made:
  • The modification significantly advances the intent of this Section;
  • The modification is necessary to develop the property in an efficient well organized way; and
  • The plan provides significant site amenities, buffers, and other elements to offset any potential harmful effects that could be caused by the use
Single Family Homes and Density

The applicant is proposing to develop the site with detached single family homes at a density of 3.14 units per acre. Detached single family homes are not a permitted use and the minimum density is 8 units per acre; therefore, the applicant is requesting use flexibility. Use flexibility may be approved provided the following findings are made:

The modification significantly advances the intent of this Section: The development of this site with single family homes on small lots promotes a vigorous development that can take advantage of the nearby transit and commercial opportunities. It includes a well organized vehicular and pedestrian circulation pattern by utilizing connections to the existing street network and including a sidewalk network. The homes will be constructed of high-quality materials and the development will reflect a distinctive and unique character. The multiple housing types, court homes, single level and two level homes will provide a variety of housing options within the development. The proposed Home Owners Association will insure long term maintenance, management and upkeep.

The modification is necessary to develop the property in an efficient well organized way: The project's street layout will tie seamlessly into the existing streets, will not require an additional access Coon Rapids Boulevard and preserve existing wetlands and scenic areas along Coon Creek. The court homes along Coon Rapids Boulevard will face the Boulevard and Riverwalk Drive, thereby providing a "front face" to the the streets. The rear or service areas will be internal to the project.  

The plan provides significant site amenities, buffers, and other elements to offset any potential harmful effects that could be caused by the use: The project will include reconstruction of the trail along Coon Rapids Boulevard and an internal sidewalk system that provides connections through the site to the trail. The reduction in density will reduce the impact of increased traffic and provide a cleaner and safer neighborhood.  It should also be noted with regard to park space, that residents will use existing parks and trails.  The site is not large enough to accomodate additional park space and both city staff and the developer agree that small private, pocket parks are diffcult to manage and maintain.  Part of the rationale for including sidewalks and trails is to help ensure pedestrian access to existing park amenities. 

Design Flexibility
Per Section 11-903.12(3), Design Flexibility may be approved provided the following findings are made:
 
  • The modification is necessary to respond to site conditions, will result in better integration of uses or additional public amenities, and will further the intent of this Section.
Setbacks

The applicant is proposing a 10 foot setback between homes; the required setback is 20 feet. The applicant is also proposing 20 foot minimum setback on local streets; the required setback is 22 feet. The plan includes a minimum 5 foot side yard setback for a total of 10 feet between units. The plan includes 20 foot minimum setback form local streets for all the court homes with frontage on Riverwalk Drive and the larger lots that have side yards that front on local streets; therefore the applicant is requesting design flexibility. Design flexibility may be approved provided the following findings are made:  

The modification is necessary to respond to site conditions, will result in better integration of uses or additional public amenities, and will further the intent of this Section: The reduced setback on the court homes is a result of the smaller lots. Since the court homes do not have direct access to Riverwalk Drive, a larger setback is not required to provide for parking in a driveway.The proposed setbacks still provide space for a front yard while providing more of a neighborhood feel and a walkable corridor along Riverwalk Drive. The proposed 20 foot setback for the larger lots that have side yard frontage is the same as the side yard setback required for our typical LDR2 lots. The section of the code that was used to assess setbacks does not have a separate side yard setback. The proposed 10 foot setback between homes ia also a response to smaller lots and will result in a more walkable compact neighborhood. 

Street Pavement Width

The applicant is proposing street width of 29 feet on three streets. The minimum street width allowed is 32 feet; therefore, the applicant is requesting design flexibility. Design flexibility may be approved provided the following findings are made:

The modification is necessary to respond to site conditions, will result in better integration of uses or additional public amenities, and will further the intent of this Section: The street pavement width requirement is 32 feet. The pavement width on three streets are less than the required 32'. Those streets are Avocet, Bluebird and Riverwalk Drive cul de sac. The applicant is proposing 29' pavement width on those three streets. The proposed pavement width of Avocet and Bluebird are a response to site conditions in that they match the width of the existing street that they are connecting with. The width is needed to provide clear and smooth connections to the existing streets. The narrower pavement on Riverwalk cul de sac will aid in calming traffic on a dead end street while still providing enough width for parking on one side of the street. The narrower streets will also reduce stormwater runoff and environmental impacts.

Sidewalks on Both Sides of Public Streets

The applicant is proposing sidewalks on one side of Drake Street, Bluebird Street and a portion of Riverwalk Drive. The code requires that public streets be designed with sidewalks on both side of the street; therefore, the applicant is requesting design flexibility. Design flexibility may be approved provided the following findings are made:

The modification is necessary to respond to site conditions, will result in better integration of uses or additional public amenities, and will further the intent of this Section: There are sidewalks on both side of the majority of the public streets. The project does not have sidewalks on both sides of a portion of Riverwalk Drive or Bluebird streets. The southern side of the western portion of Riverwalk Drive does not have a sidewalk. The lots on this section have driveway access that would conflict with pedestrian traffic. There is a sidewalk on the north side with connections to the regional trail along Coon Rapids Boulevard. There are no sidewalks on the west side of Bluebird Street. These sections of streets without sidewalk on both sides will not adversely impact pedestrian mobility or safety.

Planning Commission Meeting

At the Planning Commission meeting held on March 21st, no one spoke at the public hearing. Dave Pattberg, Centra Homes, provided an overview of the project. The Commission asked if there was a development in the city with lots similar in size to the court homes. The lots at Villas on the Boulevard are a similar size. The Commission asked about the responsibilities of the Home Owners Association. The HOA would be responsible for maintenance of the private streets and the landscaping on all of the lots. Staff reviewed the location of the sidewalks. The Commission discussed additional landscaping along Coon Rapids Boulevard and intermingling the tree species along Riverwalk Drive; the applicant is willing to work with staff on the additional landscaping. The Commission asked about severe weather plans. Mr. Pattberg explained it was his experience that severe weather enhancements were not a high priority of potential buyers. However, the area under the stairs was often used as a place of safety.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the preliminary and final site plan as well as use flexibility for single family homes and density, and design flexibility for setbacks, street pavement width and sidewalks.



 
RECOMMENDATION
Planning Case 19-3, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the proposed preliminary and final site plan with the following conditions:
  1. Compliance with Title 11.
  2. All Engineering comments be addressed.
  3. The Homeowners Association Agreement must be approved by the City Attorney.
  4. All comments from Anoka County Highway Department be addressed.
  5. The applicant enter into a site security agreement with the City.
  6. The preliminary and final plat are approved.
  7. Park dedication in the amount of $272,000 be paid prior to releasing the final plat for recording.
  8. A sidewalk along the east side of Drake Street and the west side of Avocet Street must be installed.
  9. The cement board siding will be installed on all four sides of the homes.
  10. Landscaping around the stormwater ponds will include a mix of native plantings, shrubs and trees to provide a natural appearance.
  11. Use flexibilty for single family homes and density, and design flexibility for setbacks, street widths and sidewalks are approved
  12. Additional evergreen trees will be planted along Coon Rapids Boulevard adjacent to lot 151 and between Zilla Street and Coon Creek as determined by staff and the applicant. The applicant will intermingle the overstory tree species along Riverwalk Drive and change the ornamental trees along Avocet Street to overstory trees.
The Commision also recommended approval of use and design flexibility.

The following findings are offered for Use Flexibility
  • The modifiation significantly advances the intent of this Section;
  • The modification is necessary to develop the property in an efficient well organized way; and
  • The plan provides significant site amenities, buffers, and other elements to offset any potential harmful effects that could be caused by the use.
Single Family Homes and Density

The modification significantly advances the intent of this Section: The development of this site with single family homes on small lots promotes a vigorous development that can take advantage of the nearby transit and commercial opportunities. It includes a well organized vehicular and pedestrian circulation pattern by utilizing connections to the existing street network and including a sidewalk network. The homes will be constructed of high quality materials and the development will reflect a distrinctive and unique character. The multiple housing types, court homes, single level and two level homes will provide a variety of housing options within the development. The proposed Home Owners Association will insure long term maintenance, management and upkeep.

The modification is necessary to develop the property in an efficient well organized way: The project's street layout will tie seamlessly into the existing streets, will not require an addtional access Coon Rapids Boulevard and preserve existing wetlands and scenic areas along Coon Creek. The court homes along Coon Rapids Boulevard will face the Bouelvard and Riverwalk Drive, thereby providing a "front face" to the the streets. The rear or service areas will be internal to the project.  

The plan provides significant site amenities, buffers, and other elements to offset any potential harmful effects that could be caused by the use: The project will include reconstruction of the trail along Coon Rapids Boulevard and an internal sidewalk system that provides connections through the site to the trail. The reduction in density will reduce the impact of increased traffic and provide a cleaner and safer neighborhood.

The following findings are offered for Design Flexibility:
  • The modification is necessary to respond to site conditions, will result in better integration of uses or additional public amenities, and will further the intent of this Section.
Setbacks

The modification is necessary to respond to site conditions, will result in better integration of uses or additional public amenities, and will further the intent of this Section: The reduced setback on the court homes is a result of the smaller lots. Since the court homes do not have direct access to Riverwalk Drive, a larger setback is not required to provide for parking in a driveway. The proposed setbacks still provide space for a front yard while providing more of a neighborhhod feel and a walkable corridor  along Riverwalk Drive. The proposed 20 foot setback for the larger lots that have side yard frontage is the same as the side yard setback required for our typical LDR2 lots. The section of the code that was used to assess setbacks does not have a separate side yard setback. The proposed 10 foot setback between homes is also a response to smaller lots and will result in a more walkable, compact neighborhood. 

Street Pavement Width

The modification is necessary to respond to site conditions, will result in better integration of uses or additional public amenities, and will further the intent of this Section: The street pavement width requirement is 32 feet. The pavement width on three streets are less than the required 32'. Those streets are Avocet, Bluebird and Riverwalk Drive cul de sac. The applicant is proposing 29' pavement width on those three streets. The proposed pavement width of Avocet and Bluebird are a response to site conditions in that they match the width of the existing street that they are connecting with. The width is needed to provide clear and smooth connections to the existing streets. The narrower pavement on Riverwalk cul de sac will aid in claming traffic on a dead end street while still providing enough width for parking on one side of the street. The narrower streets will also reduce stormwater runoff and environmental impacts.

Sidewalks on Both Sides of Public Streets

The modification is necessary to respond to site conditions, will result in better integration of uses or additional public amenities, and will further the intent of this Section: There are sidewalks on both side of the majority of the public streets. The project does not have sidewalks on both sides of a portion of Riverwalk Drive or Bluebird streets. The southern side of the western portion of Riverwalk Drive does not have a sidewalk. The lots on this section have driveway access that would conflict with pedestrian traffic. There is a sidewalk on the north side with connections to the regional trail along Coon Rapids Boulevard. There are no sidewalks to connect on the west side of Bluebird Street. These sections of streets without sidewalks on both sides will not adversly impact pedestrian mobility or safety.
 

Attachments
Location Map
Development Plans
Site Plan
Housing Type Location Map
Typical Home Elevations
Landscape Plan
Landscape Plan Storm Basins
Example landscaped Storm Basin
Engineering Comments
Applicant's Narrative

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