The days of driving out to the woods near White Bear Lake in your roadster to dine at an exclusive dinner club have been over for more than a year now.
That icon of a bygone age could soon be gone permanently if the vacant Lakeside Club building is razed to make room for a proposed 40-unit market rate apartment complex.
Mahmood Properties, which owns the Lakeside Club property at the east end of Old Wildwood Road, has contracted with Hearth Development of St. Paul to develop an apartment complex to be called Mahtomedi Lakes.
The apartment units will range in size from one-bedroom to two-bedroom, plus den. Every unit will have at least one dedicated underground parking stall.
The site is zoned for high-density housing, but is surrounded by low-density residential properties.
Neighbors have raised flags about the replacement of a one-story building surrounded by a parking lot by a three-story apartment building.
Developers are working with the Mahtomedi Planning Commission to obtain a few variances and conditional use permits (CUP) for specifications that don’t fall within acceptable requirements.
The developers have asked for seven variances due to what they say are “practical difficulties with the conditions of the parcel” such as wetlands and the size of the “actual buildable footprint.”
Some of the variance and CUP requests include 16.7 units per net developable acre; decreased required lot area per unit from 4,356 square feet to 3,200 square feet; an increase from the maximum 25 foot height to 40 feet; an increase in the 25 foot height in the Shoreland Overlay District, and a 40-foot variance from the required north setback of 50 feet.
In other words, the developers would like to build a structure that is substantially taller and closer to the street than is normally allowable in the zoning area.
About two dozen nearby residents and interested citizens held a neighborhood Zoom meeting to prepare a presentation for the April 13 Planning Commission public hearing when the Mahtomedi Lakes proposal will be on the agenda.
The neighbors said that while they fully support the Mahmood family in making the most favorable financial decisions for themselves, they will be the ones living with the results and want to make sure the transition is done right.
Although the site is zoned for high density, the proposed development doesn’t fit into the neighborhood, with a height and scale not conducive to the area, neighbor Joe McGraw said.
Ian Harding said he was concerned about bike and pedestrian safety, the 10-foot setback and flooding issues.
Brett Petersen said that during the CSAH 12/Wildwood Road project, scheduled for 2022, traffic would likely be rerouted to Old Wildwood Road. That extra traffic added to apartment construction traffic could produce a perfect storm of frustration for anyone living in the area.
Stacy Triplat, who lives across the street from the Lakeside Club, said the 40-unit apartment complex would greatly impact her family’s world, saying she already has drivers cutting across her lawn. Motorists already speed down Old Wildwood Road; how many more will do so now? she wondered. “Our house was flooded last summer; I’m baffled at how (the developers) could do anything underground over there.”
Neighbors were concerned about “all the variances“ that the city appears willing to grant for the developer that haven’t been approved for single-family homes.
“We support the Mahmood family,” Paul Colton said. “But it has to be done in the appropriate way. We just want the Lakeside developer to follow the rules everyone else has to follow.”