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Afton City Council turns down housing development

A proposed residential project didn’t get the green light it had hoped for Tuesday evening when developers asked Afton city officials to amend the city’s comprehensive plan in order to turn a swath of agriculturally-zoned land into residential.

Developer Will Anderson submitted plans to the city hoping to build 18 residential homes on more than 100 acres of land in the southern part of the city west of Trading Post Trail. At a tall request, the project needed City Council approval to re-zone the area, as well as change Afton’s comprehensive plan, which the council voted to deny at its Sept. 20 meeting.

Afton Mayor Richard Bend said that even if council approved the project, the Metropolitan Council may not allow it because the city’s plan has to align with its guidelines. Bend added that he is not opposed to developers coming to Afton to make money but not at the cost of “destroying the lifestyles of our residents.”

At a higher density than most of the city, council member Joe Richter said the area would resemble a Twin Cities suburb if developed under the proposal.

The council unanimously denied the project, following the Afton planning commission 8-1 decision to also deny the project.

About a half dozen residents attending the meeting voiced sharp criticism of the project, mainly touching on environmental impacts and traffic increases, as well as concerns about amending the city’s comprehensive plan would set.

Afton resident Patrick Lahey who lives near the project said changes to the comprehensive plan may lead to future problems when developers buy land in Afton.

When he read the city’s comprehensive plan, which outlines the city’s long-term goals, he said he felt the plan captured the type of values he wanted for raising a family and changing that plan ”sets a dangerous precedent going forward.”

Ryan Bluhm, a spokesman for the developer, said that many of the resident’s concerns were valid and it was not the developer's intention to potentially affect the nearby trout stream and other sensitive environmental issues.

He said he is open to refiling modified plans that better fit with the city.

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