Protecting a natural legacy

Eden Prairie / Minnetonka, Minnesota
For the public good
Join in | Events | Issues | News | Tour the Woods | Speak Out | Archive
Bent Creek issue packs council meeting again

January 4, 2006
Bent Creek issue packs council meeting again; City attorney’s report encouraging to residents who want to preserve golf course
By Karla Wennerstrom, Eden Prairie News

The first surprise at Tuesday's City Council meeting was the large turnout. The first meeting of the year is normally a "housekeeping" meeting with the Eden Prairie Council OK'ing things like council appointments to various commissions and meeting dates and times for the coming year. As Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens said, usually there are a few staff members in attendance – "and that's about it." Instead, a packed house waited through the housekeeping for an item labeled "Edenvale PUD" in a staff report.

The group was made up of residents concerned about the future of the Bent Creek Golf Course, formerly known as Edenvale – and a few Eden Prairie High School students attending the meeting for class.
" We have not received a proposal to develop the golf course," City Manager Scott Neal pointed out.

When the co-owner of Bent Creek, Herbert Koch, died last spring, he left his share of the property to 18 heirs. They and the other owner, Sam Hertogs, are selling the property. A news release said that it is to remain a golf course through the 2006 golfing season. Neal encouraged council members to ask questions during the report, but he discouraged any statements for or against any development, which could mean legal issues for the council in the future.

City attorney Ric Rosow said any application would be entitled to the city's normal process. Rosow also told the council he discouraged a premature conclusion about any development proposal. He said the reaction of the courts has not been kind when it appeared a decision had been made before any public hearing.
Rosow displayed a 1968 guide plan that showed the golf course in a slightly different configuration. He said a 1977 guide plan called the golf course, and other areas, "quasi-public." Today's Comprehensive Plan shows the same configuration and the same guiding, he said. It is zoned "rural" and guided "quasi-public." "There's no sea change here," Rosow said. "This is the way the community has developed."

The 106-acre course, now valued at more than $2 million (sic), was part of the Edenvale planned unit development. Rosow said that, according to several documents, developers made a commitment to guarantee the land's use as recreational land and prohibit future use as building sites.

Rosow cited state and federal law case history on zoning issues. He said a developer would have a hard time proving that the zoning would need to be changed to make reasonable use of the site. "This would not be an ordinary simple matter," Rosow said. "If I had to apply these factors in a vacuum now," Rosow said, he would find it unlikely that the owner could expect the property to be rezoned for more intense use.

Rosow said if an application comes forward, staff will analyze it, meet with the applicant, as they do with any applicant and go through the information-gathering process. The application would then go to the Planning Commission, which would make a recommendation to the City Council. The process would involve public hearings. He said until that time, the council would not make any decisions on the merits of any application.

Councilmember Phil Young pointed out that, although the council couldn't reach a conclusion, council members could individually express opinions. "You're elected to have an opinion," Rosow said. He said council members are expected to put those opinions aside and make a decision based on testimony.

The last surprise was the rousing round of applause Rosow received after his detailed presentation, rare for a staff report. "I am extremely pleased," said resident Steve Chelesnik. "It substantiates everything we've been saying."

Home | Join in | Events | Issues | News | Tour | Speak Out | Archive | Contact us
Sponsored by The Friends of Birch Island Woods. Copyright © 2000. All rights reserved.