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2006-05-06
Apple Valley MN. “Front Porch Attitude” Runs Into Super Target

Residents in Apple Valley, Minnesota are learning that the developer who sold them homes based on a small town sales pitch, now has another target in mind. Here's their story, filed with Sprawl-Busters this week: "Our developer, Tradition, trying to put a SuperTarget in our neighborhood in Apple Valley Minnesota. Here's a recap of our situation: Cobblestone Lake is a development that is built around a small lake. The land around the lake is city park, and my home backs up to the city park. The homes all had to follow strict architectural guidelines, including four-sided architecture, Hardie Plank or wood siding (no vinyl or aluminum), all designs had to be something that would have been built between 1890 and 1940, and all homes required a front porch. It was to be a "return to the way things used to be". "Front Porch Attitude" is their slogan. A slower pace of life, neighbors knowing each other, safe for children to run and play, quiet, etc. We were told that there would be a single street of small "mom & pop" stores (an ice cream parlor, coffee shop, and neighborhood restaurant) in our development, across the lake from my house (small 40 acre lake). It was to be unique. And now Tradition is trying to put in a SuperTarget. The city of Apple Valley is approximately 55,000 residents in size, and we have a SuperTarget in our city, exactly 2 miles from the site of this proposed Super Target. We are a suburb of St. Paul, and already have pretty much every big box that exists already, all in one area of the city -- the commercial area. This proposed Super Target would be in a residential area, connected to our neighborhood streets, incorporated into the neighborhood without any of the usual buffers. In fact, the only way to access the Target is through our neighborhood entrances. And traffic would be drawn from the downtown area, out to a residential area. The developer, Tradition, is saying that a large anchor is needed for this to be successful, that the only way to get the small "mom & pop" shops that they promised is to have a Super Target, or its equivalent. They say they are trying to deliver the vision that they sold us. My husband and I were specifically told when we bought that the shops would be of such a small scale as to be supportable by the residents and lake visitors alone, and that traffic and noise would certainly not be something to worry about. I was very concerned because I know how sound carries across the lake, so asked a lot of questions. This whole neighborhood was focused on being family-friendly. As a result, the vast majority of the residents in the single family (there is also a large number of town houses) are young families with young kids, most under the age of 4. This proposal needs approval by city council. It requires some change in zoning. Right now we are trying to figure out how to get city-wide support and are focusing on what could happen to the downtown retailers if a large number of people no longer shop at the Super Target there, and also the neighborhood street connect issue. Are we ready to say as a community that it is now okay to take high-impact retail and insert it into a neighborhood, attach it to its streets? How do we keep our children out of the dangerous parking lot? Out of the busy streets? Is this best for the residents of the city? The current Super Target is the 3rd busiest in the nation and currently does approximately 3,500 transactions a day. Even half of that is inappropriate for a neighborhood to have to cope with. The "poor us, we were lied to" angle isn't going to garner community involvement, and city has hinted strongly that they need a strong showing of community opposition to the plan or they will pass it."

What you can do: This project raises a number of issues pertinent to a zoning case: 1) If the land is not properly zoned, the city has to show that rezoning the land will protect the health, safety and welfare of local residents. Traffic is clearly a concern, and there may be some environmental issues at this location as well. Residents will have to retain a land use attorney to fight the rezoning issue, and they may need to bring in their own traffic engineer. The homeowners may also have a good "breach of contract" case to take the developer, Tradition, to court, having pulled a 'bait and switch' on purchasers who were assured that any retail development would be small scale. This is a common story, in which developers sell homes on certain assurances, then change the game plan, leaving the residents with devalued properties. Homeowners were literally "sold" a lifestyle, and what they are getting now is a big box lifestyle instead. There is clearly no market need for this store, since there is already a Super Target on Cedar Avenue in Apple Valley, a short drive from the proposed site, plus a Target in Burnsville and Eagan, Minnesota nearby. For local contacts in Apple Valley, contact info@sprawl-busters.com










 
 
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