Should the City of Eagan acquire120 acres of land formerly known as the Carriage Hills Golf Course?That’s the question voters will be asked to decide in a referendum on theNovember 4, 2008 ballot.
After four years of litigation regarding
the future of the property, the ballot question lets voters choose whether the City should acquire the land for a
cost of $10.25 million or whether the
owner should be allowed to proceed
with a mixed residential development
on 90 acres of the site, but preserving
30 acres throughout the site as
undeveloped space. The question
appears on the ballot as a direct result
of the settlement of a lawsuit between
the owner and the City. The settlement
set the price at which the owner is willing to sell the land, and also created the opportunity for voters to choose whether the City should bond to buy the land or whether the tract is allowed to develop as housing.
How will the land be used if the City acquires the parcel? What are the developers plans if the land is privately developed? What’s the impact on voters either way? These are just some of the questions addressed in the following fact sheet prepared to offer voters information which may be useful to them in making their decision.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
1. What is the Carriage Hills property and where is it located?
Answer: Carriage Hills is the name of a 120 acre tract of land east of Lexington Avenue near Yankee Doodle Road and Westcott Woodlands. It was used as a privately run golf course from 1965 until it closed in 2004.
2. What is the exact ballot question?
Answer: “Shall the City of Eagan be authorized to issue and sell its general obligation bonds in a principal amount not to exceed $10,250,000 for the purpose of acquiring approximately 120 acres of land formerly known as the Carriage Hills Golf Course for public facilities, recreation, and open space uses?”
3. What does a “yes” vote on the ballot question mean?
Answer: A “yes” vote means you approve issuing up to $10.25 million of bonds by the City of Eagan to pay for the acquisition of the 120 acres of land. It means taxes on your property would increase for the next 20 years to pay off the cost of the general obligation bonds used to finance the land purchase. It also means the land cannot be used for private residential development. The City would acquire the property and hold the land for use at such time as there are identified purposes or community needs. The City must use the land in only three ways—for public facilities, for open space, and for recreational purposes. While the current City Council cannot bind the actions of a future City Council, it has adopted a Visioning Statement that is intended to inform the public about foreseeable uses under those three property categories and how it envisions a community conversation and how a decision on future uses should be made.
4. If the bond referendum passes, what will that do to my taxes?
Answer: Property taxes would go up. A preliminary estimate, not taking into account changes in interest rates or the timing of the bond sale, indicates that for a home with a market value of $150,000 the annual increase would be approximately $13. For a home with a market value of $200,000 the annual increase would be approximately $19. For a home with a market value of $300,000, the annual increase would be approximately $30. For a home with a market value of $500,000 the annual increase would be approximately $51. The bond would be paid back over the next 20 years.
5. What does a “no” vote mean?
Answer: A “no’ vote means the current landowner will be allowed, under a Planned Development, to build up to 480 units of mixed-use housing (including single family homes, townhomes, and apartments) on 90 acres of the site, but must leave a total of 30 acres spread throughout the site that will be undeveloped but privately owned space. The timing of any construction decision would be up to the owner. While the owner is free to sell the property to a third party, any new owner would be bound by the same approvals and restrictions that currently apply in the Planned Development.
6. Is there a difference to my taxes if the land develops vs. if it doesn’t?
Answer: Assuming the property was already developed with the full 480 units and with the mix and per unit values projected by the developer, the property would generate approximately $432,000 annually in Eagan property taxes (estimated revenue calculated at 2009 rates and home values.) While additional homes mean additional revenues, there could be additional City expense to extend City services (police, fire, etc.) into a new neighborhood. The extent of any service level demand or expense is unknown and unquantifiable at this time. If the referendum passes, on the other hand, the City will pay approximately $852,000 per year for 20 years to acquire the property. City-owned land is typically removed from the tax rolls and does not generate property tax income.
7. What happens if I don’t vote either “yes” or “no” on the ballot question?
Answer: Unlike a state constitutional amendment question, a non-vote on this Eagan ballot question has no effect on the outcome, other than to reduce the number of voters on the question. A non-vote is not counted for or against the question. The question is decided by a majority of those who do vote either “yes” or “no.”
8. Why isn’t there one specific land use or public purpose for the property identified in the ballot question?
Answer: The question comes before the voters as a result of contingent settlement of a four year lawsuit against the City. Following that settlement, two public open houses were held prior to the adoption of the ballot question. Approximately 80 residents offered numerous ideas of how the land could or should be used. The complete list will be posted here soon, however, the Council selected the following land uses for the ballot question: public facilities, recreation, and open space uses.
9. What’s allowed under those three uses: public facilities, recreation, and open space?
Answer: Check this Web site for a Carriage Hills Visioning Statement to be adopted by the City Council in October. It will be posted as soon as it is available.
10. Should the referendum pass, what would happen next?
Answer: The City would then purchase the land in January of 2009, per the settlement agreement, for the agreed upon purchase price. The land would then be held for use to meet future public needs or desires. There is no immediate proposal for what to do with the land. A public process to evaluate needs, costs, and benefits, for future public facilities, open space and recreational opportunities is anticipated to occur prior to land use decisions by the City Council.
11. Does the $10.25 million include operational or development dollars to accomplish any of the three types of land use?
Answer: The bond amount is only sufficient to acquire the property and pay for the cost of issuing the bonds. There is no additional money set aside for any public improvements or development.
12. Has the City Council taken a position on the referendum either for or against?
Answer: No, while individual Council Members may have an opinion, the Council as a whole does not and cannot have a position for or against the ballot question.