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Old Mill Creek Part 4 approved

Developer calls for codified park requirements

SOLON– Another 17 residential lots and a small park area are on the way for the Old Mill Creek subdivision.
Council members approved a preliminary plat and developer’s agreement for Part 4 of the residential development at a March 4 meeting.
At the end of the meeting, however, developer Cory Hodapp recommended codification of the city’s park requirements and objected to some engineering costs.
According to City Administrator Cami Rasmussen, the plat for Part 4 was submitted to Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) back in November, but park space promised for Part 3 of the development needed to be addressed and completed before moving forward.
The original development has been around since the first homes were built in 2000, but the lack of a second access hamstrung the subdivision.
It was resurrected in 2015 by Hodapp and the preliminary plat for Part 3 was approved in November of 2016, with a developer’s agreement following in March of 2017. Hodapp was originally asked to put an emergency siren and a paved trail around a detention pond in the third phase, but council members agreed for some flexibility in providing park space in the overall development.
That park space was to be included as part of the fourth phase considered by the P&Z members, but Rasmussen said city staff were not sure, “if they understood it was intended for the entire development or just that particular phase.”
She said staff didn’t think the original proposal was adequate, and Hodapp subsequently presented plans for fencing, a picnic table and playground equipment on the 0.11 acre outlot.
Hodapp told council members he wanted to incorporate rocks and boulders from the property into the park area.
“They’re big rocks and I think it’d be fun for the kids to climb on, and have fun and play on,” he said.
A swing set and a smaller play set, designed for young children, would also be included, he said. The amenities would be purchased and installed by Hodapp after being approved by city staff.
Responding to a question from council member John Farlinger, Hodapp indicated one more phase remains for the subdivision, although no additional public space is planned.
Council members unanimously approved the developer’s agreement and preliminary plat without further comment.
Just before the end of the meeting, however, Hodapp asked to speak again.
Mayor Steve Stange, who had just sought a motion for adjournment, explained the time for public comments passed, but allowed Hodapp to proceed.
“Is there any way we can get specifics that simplify the process of what the definition of park space is?” Hodapp asked.
He sought clarification for himself and other developers to clearly define what the city expects to be provided, so decisions are not made at the last minute.
“I think it’s on the developer to do a presentation on what they’re going to do,” Stange responded.
Stange said he didn’t want the fourth phase of the Old Mill Creek development on the council agenda until the formal park proposal promised in the third phase was made.
The council needs to be completely informed before voting, he noted, “So that we don’t get halfway through this and we find out it’s a swing and a park bench and we don’t have any recourse.”
Each development is going to be different because each developer presents a different idea of a park, Stange continued. The Old Mill Creek development site had drainage issues, and if the city adopted a hard rule on park space, it might have stuck Hodapp with a large expense, he noted.
“I think the developer is going to have the benefit of having that discussion and present a plan,” he said.
The important thing for the city is to have a formal plan, Stange added. “Once we approve that developer’s agreement, we’re helpless.”
Hodapp agreed with Stange, but council member John Farlinger had a question.
“So when development comes through, we don’t tell the developer, based on this many lots you need this much green space?” Farlinger asked.
City Attorney Kevin Olson explained while other cities set percentages for residential development, Solon does not have standards for public space requirements.
But he agreed the absence of rules provided the city with some flexibility. In the case of Old Mill Creek Parts 3 and 4 (63 lots), the dedicated outlot likely wouldn’t have met standard requirements for park space.
“But he (Hodapp) did what we asked him to do,” Olson noted, and city staff approved the proposal.
Given the features of the land surrounding Solon, Stange said, development should be unique to each area instead of set regulations.
“I’m not sure that’s in the best interests of Solon,” he added.
For Hodapp, the important point was for developers to be aware of the city’s desire for land.
The city’s preliminary plat checklist makes no mention of park requirements, he said, and while there was discussion for Old Mill Part 3, it came after the preliminary plat was approved.
He suggested making the requirement part of the city’s ordinances.
When a developer comes to town and reviews city ordinances, they’ll know they have to plan for a park, Hodapp said.
“There’s nothing stated in your ordinance right now, which is the code, that tells you what you’re supposed to do about the parks,” he continued. “You guys want to have parks, but you need to have it in there so they can prepare for that. That’s all I’m saying.”
Stange said the city would take the suggestion under advisement.
Hodapp went on to express concerns about thousands of dollars in engineering fees billed to him for plat and construction document review.
“I’m just going on what the developer’s agreement says, that I’m supposed to pay for any inspections that are done at the job site,” he said. “Not every communication the city has with Dave (City Engineer Dave Schechinger), not every communication I have with Dave.”
Stange asked if Hodapp felt the city should pay for engineering fees associated with the development and asked City Attorney Olson if it was normal practice.
Olson indicated part of the problem derived from Schechinger making corrections in the field.
“You’re not going to get all that stuff for free,” Olson said. “The developers shouldn’t expect the town to be paying for development costs.”
Rasmussen noted when private developers apply to the city for a site plan, zoning, annexation or subdivision, they agree as part of the process to reimburse engineering fees.
Hodapp also asked the city to reconsider holding the escrow for the subdivision until seeding germinated.
Schechinger noted the escrow was set up to ensure the city would not have to pay for an uncompleted punch list item.
Stange asked council members if they had problems with any of the processes, and received no comments.