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Email message to City Council
concerning Bent Creek Golf Course from
Steve Chelesnik

From: Chelesnik, Steve
Sent: Monday, November 28, 2005 5:15 PM
To: 'ntyra-lukens@edenprairie.org'; 'baho@edenprairie.org'; 'pyoung@edenprairie.org'; 'sbuthcher@edenprairie.org'; 'rcase@edenprairie.org'

Subject: Bent Creek
Importance: High

Dear Councilpersons,

Thanks again for the opportunity to address you very briefly on the subject of the impending sale of the Bent Creek golf course during the pre-meeting open forum on Tuesday, November 15th.

I was asked to express the significant and growing concern in the community among homeowners, golfers and those interested in preserving open space regarding the potential loss of the Bent Creek golf course to development. This growing concern was based upon speculation that the remaining principal owner of Bent Creek was moving quickly toward selling to a private developer who wished to replace most or all of the golf course with a residential development, and that private buyers who might wish to continue to operate the golf course as a golf course could not be financially competitive with such a developer. We discussed the fact that this golf course, under various names, has been a community asset contributing to Eden Prairie's enhanced quality of life for the past 50 years and that it would be a shame to lose the 105 acres of quasi public open space it represents and the social and recreational opportunities it provides for the community, including the Eden Prairie high school golf team. We also discussed the City's interest over the years, as reflected in the 2002 Park and Open Space System Plan, in potentially providing an 18-hole municipal golf course with a driving range for the citizens of Eden Prairie and the fact that the impending sale of the Bent Creek golf course may provide the City with a unique opportunity to further consider this interest.

Since I last addressed you on this subject, we have learned that a developer has in fact contacted the City informally on at least a couple of occasions to present general concepts for the development of this property without submitting a formal development plan. Knowledge of these contacts by the developer have heighten the level of concern felt by the various community constituent groups who wish to preserve the golf course as open space, as well as motivate private parties who might wish to acquire the golf course to operate it as a golf course to organize to explore their options.

We have also been working closely and cooperatively over the past several weeks with very helpful City staff to research the history of the Bent Creek golf course property. This research has proven extremely useful. We have confirmed that approval of the original 1000 acre Edenvale Planned Unit Development ("PUD") in the early 70's was made explicitly contingent upon the original developer agreeing the golf course would always remain quasi public open space for the benefit of the community and would not be used for future building sites. This agreement by the developer was the last and most critical requirement the City imposed as a condition for approval of the 1000 acre Edenvale PUD. The City was looking for approximately 250 acres of open space to be dedicated by the developer, but the developer had only been able to come up with approximately 140 acres. Without the City's agreement to bend the rules slightly and count the privately owned acreage of the golf course (then 116 acres) as part of the open space dedication requirement, this PUD would never have been approved. All of this is very clearly and unambiguously established by contemporaneous City Council meeting minutes, Planning Commission meeting minutes, correspondence between the developer and the City, published news articles, maps, plans and more.

We strongly believe the factual record of the approval process for the original Edenvale PUD places the City in a very strong position to deny any subsequent request to develop the Bent Creek golf course property as being a breach of the express published promises made to the City and the community by the original developer of the Edenvale PUD that the golf course would always remain quasi public open space. The golf course was the center piece of the Edenvale PUD and several generations of Eden Prairie citizens have since made substantial investments in homes in this area at least in part in reliance on these promises and the unique quality of life they afford. We know the Council is working diligently with the City's legal counsel to carefully research all of the relevant legal issues and trust the City will soon feel comfortable taking a firm public position in favor of preserving the golf course property as open space for the benefit of all present and future generations of Eden Prairie citizens. We believe such a decision by the City would not only be defensible as a legitimate non-arbitrary exercise of its governmental powers, but absolutely necessary to uphold the promises to the City and the community upon which the original Edenvale PUD was premised.

We are planning to attend the next regularly scheduled Council meeting on December 5th and hope we can make further progress on this issue at that time.

Thanks again for taking the time to consider this important issue.

(end of email message)


The following is an open letter to the Mayor and City Council of Eden Prairie from a Bent Creek Golf Club Member.

Dear Mayor and City Council Members,
I have heard about the potential development of the Bent Creek Golf Club and have read many of the strong arguments opposing the possible re-zoning. I too oppose the development, however I have personal experience for my objections that I feel should be considered.
I just recently moved from Eden Prairie after having resided in your beautiful city for more than 20 years. During those 20 years, 6 years was spent living on the Bent Creek Golf Course, then called Edenvale. I was one of the unfortunate ones who in the storm of 1987 had several inches of water in my home due to the flooding resulting from that storm. We lived on what is now called the 15th fairway. We had to move out of our home for 6 weeks in order to replace all of the dry wall, carpet, furniture etc, ruined by the flood. Some of the units around us has to be completely demolished. During this time, many City Council meetings took place regarding flood plains and development in Eden Prairie. I discovered at one of these meetings that the land my home was built on what was originally designated as a "Flood Plain" area. Many other areas of Eden Prairie sustained substantial flooding that too had been flood plain areas before being developed. It was decided, from my understanding, that Edenvale golf course would remain a flood plain area with no development ever taking place, and the additional acreage would be kept undeveloped as well. The city had already given many acres previously designated as flood plain to be development. For every acre given, two acres had to be replaced as open spaces. It was becoming more difficult to find those 2 acres to give back. This was another reason for the decision. This discussion of flood plains and designations of such went on for several months. Again, my understanding of the decision was that the entire area would be kept status quo. I am not certain if the Original Edenvale PUD was referenced during these discussions or not. The outcome, however was the same.

I am no longer a citizen of Eden Prairie, but I am a 15 year member at Bent Creek Golf Club. I see the course continue to flood both front and back after large rains, and am again reminded of the nightmare many of us experienced years ago. The City Council needs to take these vulnerable areas into consideration along with the Edenvale PUD when deciding to allow any new development to this property. Developing the front nine of the course could cause the damage I sustained years ago to other new homes. I urge you not to take another area that has shown to have flood problems and allow yet another developer to come in and cause additional problems that I have already experienced living in the area. Bent Creek is a wonderful example of the "Open Spaces" your city worked so hard to pass. Let's leave it that way.
Thank you for your time.
Sincerely,
Shea Johnson
Minnetonka


NOTE: Many of the issues regarding the Edenvale PUD and Bent Creek Golf Course were explored by Roger Person (a Board Member of Friends of Birch Island Woods) in his capacity as head of the Edenvale Conservation Group and City Official Gene Dietz. The outlots and trail corridors of the 1000- acre Edenvale section of Eden Prairie generally between Golfview Terrace neighborhoods in the east to Edenvale Boulevard neighborhoods to the west were owned and managed by the now defunct Edenvale Association. Those outlots and corridors are still regarded as public open space by the City of Eden Prairie which is in the process of acquiring them. In November and December 2005, Kings Forest resident Lisa Rolf has been searching public records associated with Edenvale PUD agreements from the early 1970's to determine what kind of development restrictions, if any, may also be attached to the Bent Creek property.

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