Shown from above, the potential future site of the Prairie Gardens housing

Shown from above, the potential future site of the Prairie Gardens housing subdivision lies in the southern portion of Belle Plaine, near the Belle Plaine High School Athletic Complex. The yellow line shows the approximate perimeter of the proposed development.

As the Minneapolis and St. Paul area continues to diversify and grow, people are looking to the suburbs as a preference for affordable housing, small town community life and opportunities to work remotely, with options for easily commuting into the Twin Cities.

Prairie Gardens, a phased residential subdivision consisting of 111 townhome units, is officially moving forward as planned for 16.4 acres in the 900 block of Commerce Drive West on the southern edge of Belle Plaine.

The property is slated for medium to high density residential development and appropriately zoned R-7, single-family residential zone which regulates the construction of single-family homes on existing lots and provides design guidance for single-family residential subdivisions. The R-7 code designation can be viewed online at https://bit.ly/39uz4BZ.

The development site sits on the periphery of the “Suburban Residential Neighborhood” area in a location transitioning from lower residential densities to higher capacity streets and higher intensity uses. As such, the development site is suitable for higher intensity uses that townhome units will bring into the area.

Phase one of the project will include construction of dwelling units abutting proposed Oakwood Drive, construction of Oakwood Drive, construction of a storm water pond, construction of a storm sewer necessary for phase one construction, preliminary grading of the entire site, dedication of parkland, and installation of sanitary sewer and drinking water mains for Oakwood Drive. Phase one construction is anticipated for 2021.

Phase two, which will come at a later date,  will include improvement of Oakwood Drive, installation of remaining utilities and construction of dwelling units adjacent to Oakwood Drive.

The developer is proposing to dedicate 1.64 acres of property to the public for a park, according to Cynthia Smith Strack, Community Development Director for the City of Belle Plaine.

“We are only going to do the south half as stage one of a two -stage development,” said the developer Gary Crosby of Gary Crosby Construction. “This would include the south half of Oakwood and south half of Viburnum Street, the pond, and dedicated park area of approximately 1.64 acres. The plan is that each property next to the park will add land to the size of the park when they are developed.”

All new roads will be privately funded by the developers, Gary and Lynn Crosby. The site is to be served by Oakwood Drive, a planned north-south through street connecting to Commerce Drive and existing Oakwood Drive, dependent on future development of parcels under separate ownership. Viburnum Street connects to Oakwood Drive in the proposed subdivision and may in the future connect to Elk Street.

Alternately, a 30 foot right of way is being dedicated at the northern property line to preserve potential for future east-west street connection or pedestrian corridor providing for the reasonable development of future subdivisions.

 All streets within the plat plan (map drawn to scale) have a functional classification of ‘local street’ and are designed as 60-foot ROW width to be consistent with requirements contained in the City Code.

The watershed plan, as required by law which requires zero runoff impact, will have a pond designed for the size of the development.

“We hope to include some flower-shrub type of gardens throughout the development,” said Gary Crosby, “and suggest to the city to have a park with gardens and walking paths included someday in the park.”

Community impact of such a development is always on the minds of Belle Plaine residents, as locals are wondering what this new development and their new neighbors will bring into the community.

“This is a 111-unit townhome development; dwellings will be two, three, and four-unit structures,” said Cynthia Smith Strack. “An association will be formed to take care of common elements of the development like exterior structure maintenance and lawn care. The development expands available housing options in a thoughtful manner.”

“The development provides a form of housing that  Belle Plaine needs,” said Gary Crosby. “Each unit will be sold individually; owner-occupied is the hope.”

“We are always excited to work with new development within the City of Belle Plaine in both the commercial and residential areas,” said Chris  Meyer, Mayor of Belle Plaine. “As a city we are committed to making the process as easy as possible to foster the growth of our tax base and bring in additional amenities.”

The Planned Unit Development Plan for Prairie Gardens can be viewed online at https://belleplaine.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=692&meta_id=57233.

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