Medina previews senior housing concept

BY SUSAN VAN CLEAF
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS

More options for senior housing might soon be constructed in Medina, if Lunski Inc. decides to go ahead with a project proposed for property located north of Highway 55 and west of Mohawk Drive.

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, the Medina City Council gave the developer feedback on his concept plan for an 80-unit assisted/independent senior housing building, 42,000 square foot medical office building and 5,000 square foot commercial building. Lunski Inc., of Hopkins, will use the feedback to determine whether to seek city approvals for the development.

At the meeting, the City Council also took up other business.

SENIOR HOUSING
Dean Lunski said his firm purchased the Highway property in 2005 and has been waiting for an opportunity to develop it for senior housing. Now the aging population in Medina is “growing substantially.”

“We’re ready to move,” he said.

In his proposal letter, Lunski said the senior living community would consist of three stories. “The design…will accommodate a variable mix of assisted living and independent living units depending upon leasing demand. Amenities will include on-site dining, a bistro café/ coffee shop, beauty salon, exercise/ wellness room and various group gathering areas…Extensive outdoor spaces including porches, patios and trails across the site provide additional opportunities for residents to engage in the natural setting,” Lunski said.

City Planner Dusty Finke said the development would be located on a 10.8 acre site that has a 2.6 acre wetland in the middle. Access would be from Chippewa Road. The city engineer was recommending a traffic study to determine what improvements the applicant would be required to construct on Chippewa.

Finke said Lunski would need to resolve land use issues. Medina’s current comprehensive plan classifies the property as Rural Commercial Holding, an interim land use for property that is not yet developed. An assisted/independent living facility is not a permitted use in a commercial zoning district.

Meanwhile, Medina is in the process of updating its comprehensive plan. The draft 2020–2040 plan update proposes to change the land use of the Lunski property to business. Nursing homes, assisted living facilities and independent living facilities associated with such uses are allowed in the business zoning district.

Lunski could ask Medina and the Met Council for a comprehensive plan amendment, Finke said. This process could happen more quickly than approval of the updated comp plan. A portion of the site could be designated for high-density housing before the new comp plan is approved. The Met Council would count the 80 units in the Lunski proposal as high-density housing.

Finke asked the city council whether it would support a rezoning to business before the comp plan update is approved.

City Councilor Lorie Cousineau said that Medina might get more high density housing than it needs if developers of a number of properties seek rezoning from commercial to business for assisted living facilities. She also thought the Lunski proposal showed a lot of hard surface on the property.

Mayor Bob Mitchell said the development would contain “a lot of units on not so much land.” In general, he favored the proposal. He called it a “terrific use” that is not intensive like a Walmart would be.

City Councilor John Anderson said Medina has been telling other developers that they must follow the current comprehensive plan and now a developer wants the city to follow a comp plan that is not yet in place. “This is the real issue,” he said.

City Councilor Jeff Pederson called the proposal “a good fit for the area.” He favored it if the details could be worked out. However, Medina would need to look at improvements that would be needed for Chippewa Road.

City Councilor Kathleen Martin was not at the meeting.

BIKEWAY GRANT APPLICATION
In other business, the city council approved a resolution supporting Medina’s application for a grant from the Hennepin County Bikeway Participation Program. The grants are a 50/50 match of local dollars up to a maximum of $100,000.

The proposed project includes a trail segment along Pinto Drive from Hamel Road to Tower Drive and a second segment along Hamel Road from Rainwater Park across Elm Creek. The city engineer has estimated the cost of the Pinto Drive segment at $99,000. The Hamel Road segment has an estimated cost of $168,000 to $204,000.

OTHER
At the meeting, the city council also directed city staff to route the 2020–2040 Comprehensive Plan for comments from affected jurisdictions, including school and watershed districts and neighboring cities. After receiving the comments, Medina can ask the Met Council to approve the comp plan.

The council appointed Lauren Lubenow as a youth member of the Medina Park Commission.

Lastly, the council approved Orono’s request for support in having the Long Lake Fire Department service the portion of Orono currently serviced by the Wayzata Fire Department.