A little over a year after Louis W. Hill’s death in 1995, Mari Hill Harpur, Louis’ daughter, acquired the North Oaks Company (NOC). She and Douglas, her husband, initiated a new concept of development for the remaining undeveloped 1,650 acres, about a third of the total area of the city. It was proposed that about 40 to 50 percent of the undeveloped land would be set aside as conservation areas: wetlands, slopes, forest, natural areas and habitat that would remain in its natural state.
In 1997, NOC presented a map showing an 885-acre conservancy area (M, N and P on Map 1) to be placed in the Minnesota Land Trust to insure it would forever remain in its natural state, with NOC retaining ownership and responsibility for maintenance. Within the conservancy area there are three classifications of land use and two for trails: conservancy land with emphasis on environmental studies and research (M); agricultural land with emphasis on raising deer and horticulture (N), agricultural land allowable building, the location of the Harpur home (former Louis W. Hill, Jr. home) and farm buildings, primary; and restricted trails (no dogs, cats or motorized vehicles).
With the exception of the Black Lake area, which was scheduled for single-family houses on one to two acre lots (K), NOC proposed to allocate 645 residential homes (the number forecast in the Comprehensive Plan when North Oaks was fully developed) and 21 acres of commercial development in the undeveloped areas. Single-family detached dwellings on reduced lot sizes (B, C, I, and J), mixed residential use (A, D, F and L) and mixed use including residential, office and retail areas (E, G, H on the map) were designated on the
In each area, an estimated number of building units that the area could accommodate was indicated. To provide the flexibility needed in the future to respond to the demand for housing and commercial use, NOC proposed a formula for moving a number of units from one area to another and a maximum parentage of increase in any one area. If an acre of commercial land was relinquished, five dwelling units could be added and vice versa. There could be a density increase of 50% for two areas, D and E, and 30% for all other areas, but the total number of housing could not exceed 645.
To insure the integrity of the total development, NOC requested that the entire 1,650 acres be considered as a Planned Unit Development (PUD) and the City, North Oaks Home Owners’ Association (NOHOA) and NOC sign the Planned Unit Development Agreement (PDA). If the City chose to accept the proposed plan, the City would have to amend the Comprehensive Plan, zoning and subdivision ordinances.
As proposed, the PDA did not permit the City to change ordinance provisions for 30 years for the standards cited in the PDA: land use, density, lot size and layout, setbacks, building heights, street improvement, park dedication and registered land