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Cedar's Bluff gets green light in Afton

The Cedar's Bluff saga in Afton has finally come to an end. On May 26 the Afton City Council directed staff to revise the development agreement for approval at their June meeting.

"My goal all along here was to do what is right and not push beyond what is allowable," Cedar's Bluff developer Len Pratt said. "I'm concerned with the preservation of Afton's historic character."

The Cedar's Bluff Homestead, Afton's first housing development, was approved in 2006.

Over the last two years, the development has hit a few road blocks. These include, litigation, which is why Pratt made a request for a two-year extension on Jan. 20, but the council said they were wary of granting this extension until further discussion.

The council has since granted two 60-day extensions to the agreement so that the discussions can continue.

Previously, council members voiced their concerns over the proposed development in a variety of areas.

Some of these concerns included a communal septic system, the issue of density in Afton, the proposed three-fourths acre lots and the preservation of open space through a land trust.

"I don't know if I'm totally on board with the open space concept," council member Joe Richter said.

During the special meeting on May 26, Pratt presented yet another revised plan, this time having all lots at least 2.5 acres. Pratt said the proposed number of lots would be between 22 and 29. The council said they would prefer 22.

In order to acquire the 2.5 acre lots, Pratt had to move some of the lots out into the conservation easement and reallocate the acreage elsewhere.

During their discussions, several council members voiced concerns over the road widths, but Pratt said that would not be an issue because he was willing to change them as necessary.

Council member Randy Nelson, who was in support of the project from the very beginning, did not support the properties moving out into the conservation easement since that would scatter the acreage and take away the whole vision of the project.

Nelson also apologized to Pratt for everything that he has had to go through over the last several months.

"I want to apologize for everything that you've had to deal with," he said.

After some more discussion, council member Richter proposed that they lessen the requested extension from two years to 12-14 months so that they can verify that the project will get underway.

Council member Palmquist supported this proposal since there is a lot of public opinion about the project and a longer extension would leave room for more delays.

"There is a substantial amount of public opinion about your project," he said.

The council, with a 4-1 vote, Nelson dissenting, directed staff to come back to their June meeting with revisions to the development agreement that would address the time frame for completion and the road widths.

Before the council can approve the agreement though, Pratt has to reach an agreement with the Land Trust over the conservation easement changes.

"I want to do this with diplomacy," Pratt said. "We'll work towards those milestones."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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