The Hastings City Council approved distribution of an Environmental Assessment Worksheet for the proposed development of Walden at Hastings, which would include 511 housing units off Hwy. 316 at …
The Hastings City Council approved distribution of an Environmental Assessment Worksheet for the proposed development of Walden at Hastings, which would include 511 housing units off Hwy. 316 at Michael Avenue.
The EAW will be reviewed by local, state and national authorities and will be published in the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board’s EQB Monitor Dec. 12. A 30-day public comment period would expire Jan. 11, 2024. Responses to the public comment are then prepared. After that, the city council will consider adoption of a resolution to determine if further environmental review is necessary.
The Walden at Hastings is proposed as consisting of single family, twin home, town home, apartment and senior housing. When it was proposed last year, neighbors expressed concern about the amount of traffic that would be generated from the development onto Hwy. 316.
The city approved annexation of the site last allowing for the environmental and traffic studies to be done. The property is currently used for agriculture and has been owned for at least 25 years by Best Development, which has an agreement with LandEquity, LLC, the Walden developer.
Walden at Hastings is planned as “life-cycle housing,” meaning housing for every stage of life. The development would have trails and park-like amenities, according to plans.
City Community Development Director John Hinzman said at a city council meeting last year the city’s Comprehensive Plan earmarks the site for residential use.
LandEquity plans for the development to be all rental units, with rents in the neighborhood of $2,000-$4,000 monthly. The size of the proposed development triggered the need for environmental and traffic studies. The initial proposal called for 450 units. However, materials included in the environmental review done by the developer’s engineering firm, SEH, shows 511 units.
If the project clears environmental hurdles, the city’s Comprehensive Plan would need to be amended because of the size of the project. There would also be preliminary and final plat approval and land use permits approved by the city council.
Developers hope to start on the site in 2024 and build the multifamily and senior units.
The environmental study states, “The project aims to incorporate family living in one development. Whether a person is owning their first, having their second child, living their active lives in their senior years or needs assistance and care, they are welcome. The goal is to have families living and thriving in the same development.”
Proposed are 54 twin homes, 68 town homes, 170 apartments, assisted living unit complexes of 24 and 80 units and 60 active senior living units. In 2029, plans are for construction to start on 55 single family homes.
The 17.5-acre natural Sand Coulee within the parcel will be maintained as a preserve.
The traffic study completed for the development doesn’t foresee problems on roads.
“New public and private roadways will be constructed to provide access to the development from Hwy. 316. Sidewalks will be constructed along several roadways to provide pedestrian mobility,” the SEH analysis states.
The project purpose in the engineering firm’s analysis states: “The purpose of the project is to construct 511 residential units of varying sizes and price ranges within the City of Hastings. The need of the project is to expand the number of affordable residential housing opportunities within the City of Hastings and the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. This is a private project being completed as a business opportunity to develop and sell lots for commercial gain.”
The traffic study shows 7,502 vehicles per day on Hwy. 316 past the development now. The plan would be for Michael Avenue and a second road to access the development. Both would have dedicated turn lanes and the intersection with Michael Avenue would include a westbound bypass lane. The study predicts 2,190 “trips” daily from the developments first phase and 519 for the single family home phase.
Peak traffic periods, under the study, were listed as 7:15-8:15 a.m. and 4-5 p.m. It was determined that 90 percent of the development traffic would travel to and from the north and west and 10 percent to the south and east.
With the turn lanes, the study concluded that traffic at the development would be at “LOS A”, which means a level of service with free flow of traffic.
“A traffic operations analysis was conducted to determine the impact of the proposed development to the surrounding roadway network. Based upon guidance provided by MnDOT, turn lanes were provided at each development access point along Hwy. 316. With the addition of these geometric changes, all study intersections operate at LOS A and the minor stop-controlled approaches also operate at LOS A under all analyzed scenarios,” the study states.