Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Feb. 19, 2001

DNR letter stalls progress of Prairie Ridge development

By Patrice Salmon

Plans for the Prairie Ridge development have hit a snag, as the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has notified housing developer David Segal that the variances required to proceed would not be supported by its office.

Segal reported at last Monday's Lester Prairie City Council meeting that he had just received a letter from Robert Kollet of the DNR, stating that he would not approve the variances necessary for the development.

"I can't see how variances connect with his problem (the DNR)," commented Mayor Eric Angvall.

In response to the Kollet's letter, Rick Harrison, designer of the development, spoke about the plans, which include a coving design.

An advantage to coving, Harrison explained, is that in a coving design, there are more curved streets. Drivers on curved streets don't gain as much speed as drivers on straight streets. Slower speeds mean, safer streets.

Of the 7,000 new home sites in Minnesota in 2000, none had street widths greater than 32 feet.

The length of right-of-way has traditionally been 50 feet. The reduction to 32 feet is made possible by the coving design. The reduction in street width aids in snow removal, as there is less paved area to plow.

"From his (Kollet) point of view, he doesn't realize that with coving there are fewer lots than if it were a standard development," said Harrison.

If Prairie Ridge were to be designed along traditional lines, there would be 203 lots. With the coving design, there are only 180 lots, but the coving design also requires variances. The DNR opposes this use of variances.

Harrison explained some of the trends in Minnesota housing, showing how Prairie Ridge follows the direction of other housing areas.

Also covered were some of the aesthetic reasons for the new coving design, such as decreased side yards, allowing for larger front and back yards. The development also allows for less density of houses.

"The trend - developers are dropping density to develop something better - it will be a nice addition to the city," said Harrison.

The DNR is not in favor of the number of variances requested, and is thus, not in favor of the development.

"I don't see how they (the number of variances) relate to anything," said Angvall.

Following Harrison's presentation, Angvall called for approval of the necessary variances, subject to working out an arrangement with the DNR.

The motion was approved. Segal will pursue DNR approval.

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