Stillwater developer wants Baytown horse farm annexed to Bayport
A Stillwater development company known for its energy-efficient designs wants to build 46 single-family houses on a horse farm in Baytown Township, and they want the development to have a Bayport address.
Green Halo Builds is proposing to build a planned-unit development on 26 acres of land near Barker’s Alps Park in Bayport. Company officials are in the process of having the land annexed into the city in order to provide the development with city water and sewer and zoning options that are not allowed in the township.
The development, called EcoHaven, would be Green Halo Builds’ biggest project to date, said John Sharkey, the company’s CEO. The company is an “eco-friendly” builder, and each of the proposed 2,600-square-foot houses would be highly energy efficient, according to Sharkey.
“We’re committed to building environmentally sustainable homes achieving ‘net-zero’ energy use – or as close to it as possible,” Sharkey said. The company also prides itself on building “healthy” homes using materials and techniques that are safer for habitation, he said.
The houses will be designed for solar panels and will have advanced building envelope systems — structural insulated panels — to ensure they are airtight. The panels are just as strong as traditional stick framing, but are much more energy-efficient because the insulation isn’t interrupted by wood studs or rafters, Sharkey said.
“It’s a continuous wall of insulation,” he said. “A typical home has a stud every 16 inches, so that means every stud is an energy break – it’s touching the interior wall and the exterior wall. With SIP, we can run a wall for 24 feet without an energy break, and that translates into a higher R value and lower energy costs. Your house isn’t losing heat or losing air conditioning or working as hard.”
R-value is the measurement of an insulation material’s effectiveness in terms of its thermal resistance.
Owners wanted green development
Bradley and Janet Anderson, the owners of the horse farm, are winding down their equine venture and were interested in having a builder who uses green initiatives develop the site and houses, Sharkey said. “She came to me because she really likes what we are doing,” he said.
The farm, which includes a large meadow, is surrounded by mature trees.
“I had driven by that property hundreds of times, and I had no idea it was a horse ranch,” Sharkey said. “Once we walked up there and saw it, it was amazing. It has views of the St. Croix River Valley at certain times of the year. It’s rare for a property like this to become available.”
The development is designed to fit within the pasture area with minimal tree removal, according to Sharkey. “We’re not a builder that tries to pack them in there,” he said. “A green development works really well there. Each home backs up to trees. They’re very secluded and private.”
The home designs feature “main-level living” and have options for three- or four-bedrooms, he said. “We’re really big into outdoor spaces, four-season porches. When we design, we really look at every square foot of the home and try to have zero negative spaces. There is no wasted square footage.”
Bayport City Administrator Matt Kline said Green Halo officials expect to submit a planned-unit development application within the next month, which will then be presented to the city’s planning commission and city council. The PUD application will be done concurrently with the annexation application, he said.
Bayport officials have requested several items in conjunction with the PUD application, including working with Washington County transportation officials on potential improvements needed at the the intersection of Stagecoach Trail North (Washington County Highway 21) and Fifth Avenue North (Washington County Highway 14); developing a shared-road agreement with Baytown Township; and coordinating an easement for sewer and water connections to Fifth Ave North, Kline said.
Green Halo hopes to break ground on EcoHaven later this year or in early 2024 and have residents moving into EcoHaven a year from now, Sharkey said. He anticipates a three-year build out.
Green Halo officials went to all the neighbors and asked if they wanted to join annexation as a courtesy, Sharkey said, and officials with the James B. and Christine N. Otto Trust asked that 1.5 acres of their land in Baytown Township – three lots in all – be included in the petition.
The properties are currently served by on-site septic and well systems.
Annexation by ordinance
State law allows for annexation to the city by adoption of an ordinance when a petition is made by all property owners for land that is 120 acres or less in area and not presently served by public sewer utilities. The Anderson property abuts the current city limits on its east boundary and meets the criteria for requirements for annexation by ordinance; the Otto lots also meet the criteria for annexation by ordinance provided the Anderson parcel is annexed, Kline said.
Baytown Township officials are “neither promoting nor objecting to the plan, but are staying on the sidelines waiting for the process to play out,” said Town Board Supervisor Rick Weyrauch.
“The long-term position of the township desires to remain its current municipality as long as possible,” he said. “We’re tired of being eaten up. We like operating the township the way we do, and the residents hope to remain as we are into the foreseeable future.”
The township has restricted land development — 2 ½-acre minimum lot size requirements — and township officials would not consider “customizing” zoning ordinances for the development, he said.
Under township zoning regulations, the developer could have put 11 houses on the property, along with the road and cul de sac, said Town Board Chairman John Hall.
“When you look at this, townships don’t have a lot of defensive opportunities,” Hall said. “If the willing property owners are there, the township can’t really stop the annexation.”