by Jim Boyle


The Otsego City Council on March 8 denied an application for an amendment to the Planned Unit Development Stage Plan for Little Tree Properties and Northstar Regional Riverwood campus.

The PUD District was amended on April 13, 2020, to allow for use of the property as a residential treatment program with plans for remodeling of three buildings on the site designated as the Courtyard Building, Bluff House and Timothy’s Restaurant as a more viable long-term use that is limited in scale and would be compatible with surrounding rural uses.

Northstar Regional changed its plans for a fourth building on the site and sought and got approval for its remodel from the city’s building department.

The Otsego City Council took issue on Feb. 22 with the proposed use of the East Side House on the property for the treatment program. In order for that to be approved, an amendment to the PUD was needed.

The request to use the East Side House for the residential treatment program expands the number and area of buildings involved in the residential treatment program beyond three buildings identified in the PUD Development Stage Plan approved on April 13. To make matters worse from the council’s perspective, the East Side House is set back from the closest property lines approximately 8 feet to the east. There are existing mature trees in the yards between the East Side House and property lines, but they provide a canopy and not screening. The expansion of the residential treatment program to a fourth building and the proximity of the proposed East Side House to adjacent properties, specifically the east property line, create compatibility issues between the subject site and the surrounding rural and agricultural properties, city officials noted in a resolution for denial of the amendment.

Neighbors and people who operate a garden on the neighboring property spoke against the amendment, which they said would drastically alter their use, safety and enjoyment of their property.

Those developing the project had garnered support and goodwill for the residential and outpatient treatment facility in Otsego leading into the April 2020 approval.

Things took a turn when work on the East Side House began, and the city put an end to a building project that had been awarded a building permit to proceed. The city informed the folks with Northstar Regional that the project would require an amendment to the PUD before it could proceed.

After a lengthy discussion on the matter on Feb. 22, the Otsego City Council directed staff to prepare a resolution for denial and reasons behind it. The denial was approved in short order on March 8.

Northstar, with facilities in Chaska, Chanhassen, Shakopee and Maple Grove, has not responded to emails or calls from the Star News to discuss reaction to the council’s Feb. 22 and March 8 decisions or their next steps.

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