All of the usual pain associated with infill development, and then some, was on display Monday, Aug. 28, at a public hearing for a 42-unit townhome development proposed southeast of the corner of Pioneer Trail and Dell Road.
In the end, the Eden Prairie Planning Commission recommended over the objection of neighbors, on a 4-3 vote, that the city council approve the Kinsley townhome development by Pulte Homes, including a Valley Road extension that’s being urged by city staff.
The project in southwestern Eden Prairie is considered “infill development” because it’s on a vacant parcel, just 6.13 acres, and bordered by single-family homes and townhomes that have existed for years. These small, remnant properties are among the last to develop in Eden Prairie and sometimes create outcry from neighbors who oppose development or have different expectations for the land.
The Kinsley plan has also generated opposition because city staff want to extend existing Valley Road west to connect with Dell Road as part of this project, in order to provide another access to the wider neighborhood. That extension has been planned since at least 2001, according to city staff, but has awaited further housing development.
Making that public-street connection will add traffic to the existing portion of Valley Road and to Cedar Forest Road where it connects to Pioneer Trail, noted Valley Road resident Don Patterson, who lives adjacent to the proposed development.
“It’s a shortcut,” he predicted. “What do people do on shortcuts? They do ‘em fast.”
Neighbors have produced a 67-signature petition opposing the Valley Road connection with Dell Road.
The density of the Kinsley plan – 6.8 units per acre – is also supported by city staff but opposed by neighbors who say they expected fewer homes on the parcel.
“There are so many homes crammed in a small space,” Libby Lane resident Marv Cofer testified about the plan Monday. “There’s an incompatibility there.”
The project, as proposed this week, requires five waivers from city code, on matters such as lot size and setback from a public road.
Dean Lotter, representing Pulte Homes, said the 42 owner-occupied, two-story townhomes would be constructed as buildings of four, five, and six units each. The units would be priced from the low $400,000s to the mid-$500,00s, he said. If the city council were to approve the project this fall, construction would begin next spring, he added.
Acknowledging that the plan pushes the boundaries on density, most commissioners on Monday said they viewed the extension of Valley Road through the property as the neighborhood’s primary objection.
Those who voted to support the plan noted city staff’s recommendation to make the public-street connection. Staff in its report said the extension “would enhance accessibility and safety for the existing and future residents surrounding this neighborhood by providing a new alternative access to a lower volume, lower speed Dell Road.”
Commissioner John Kirk, who voted against the project, saw it differently.
“Part of our job is to listen to the community and react to it,” he said, noting that neighbors had voiced “overwhelming dissatisfaction with the road.”
The city council is expected to hold a public hearing and review the project in September or October.
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