Big Lake again leads in housing starts

By Gary W. Meyer
The vista has changed significantly as one travels north of Big Lake along Co. Rd. 5. In mid-summer of 1999, the farm pasture of the Bud Mitchell family, just across Hiawatha from the City of Big Lake, sported the early morning calls of the Mitchell's herd of cattle.
The cattle and their pasture have given way to another of Arcon's housing additions, with an estimated 150 homes alone springing up in that area over the past year.
Although housing growth in Sherburne County did slow a bit during 2000, given the annual report of the county planning and zoning office, it was still of a major impact, as the region continues its metamorphosis from quiet-rural to bustling-urban.
Big Lake City allotted permits for 239 new single family residences, down from 294 the year prior but still enough to retain their leadership in construction throughout the county. Added to the mix for Big Lake this year was a 65-unit seniors apartment complex on South Hwy. 25 and four more townhome units. Given the zoning office's population estimates, the city could have over 7,000 residents. A more likely estimate, as many of the seniors apartments and some homes remain open, is that the city had about a 6,500 population at year's end.
Second fastest growing community this year was the City of Elk River, with 172 new homes, 26 duplex units and 86 more multi-family units, for an estimated population of 17,868.
Baldwin Twp. continued its surge in residential construction, with 154 homes. Thereafter followed Livonia Twp., also in the Hwy. 169 corridor, with 93 homes; Becker Twp., 90 homes; Zimmerman, 68 homes; Big Lake Twp., 67 homes; Becker City, 56 homes; Blue Hill Twp., 34 homes; Santiago and Orrock Twps., each with 24 homes; Palmer Twp., 20 homes; Clear Lake Twp., 14 homes; Haven Twp., 10 homes; East St. Cloud, seven homes; and Princeton and Clear Lake cities, each with no new homes.
The zoning office estimates, based on those growth figures, that cities within the county have 37,344 residents and townships have 33,039 residents, for a total of 70,472. (See map showing breakdown of estimated population inside this issue of the Tribune.)
Valuation of the homes in many townships dropped from 1999 to 2000, although there were notable exceptions, the zoners report.
The average value of Big Lake Twp.'s 67 homes dropped to $129,940 from an average of $137,131 (for 91 homes) in 1999. The average value of Livonia's 93 homes dropped to $121,140 in 2000 from $136,719 (for 107 homes) in 1999. The average value of Baldwin's 154 homes dropped to $105,181 in 2002 from an average of $114,586 (for 87 homes) the year prior. Palmer Twp. also saw its average valuation drop, to $116,000, from $123,888 (for 27 homes) in 1999.
Orrock saw a slight increase in its valuations, from $122,071 last year to $124,625 in 2000. Clear Lake Twp. valuation increased to $147,071 from $140,200 (for 15 homes) in 1999. Santiago Twp. saw a significant increase in the valuation of its new homes - to $137,958 - from $99,472 in 1999. Haven Twp., building only 10 new homes, saw an average valuation of $177,200 for those residences, compared to $112,400 for 10 homes in 1999.
Total valuation for the 520 homes built in the townships during 2000 was $63,472,000. As a result, 2000 house building dropped in valuation to an average $120,000 per building, down from $123,000 in 1999 and $121,000 the year prior. Another $10,763,000 in valuation was gained for other building permits, such as remodelings, garages, outbuildings and pole buildings. During the year, there were 1,311 permits for all construction in the county.
No valuations were reported for homes built within cities.
Septic system upgrades, generally required with the sale of homes in townships, numbered 233 for the year, pretty much in line with 235 upgrades in 1999 and 261 in 1998s.
Forty-three plats were recorded from townships in 2000, from which 400 lots (17 commercial) were developed. The total number of lots is down significantly from those approved from 1996 through 1999, when anywhere from 517 to 612 were recorded.
But those 400 lots meant 1,463 acres of land were rezoned for housing or commercial use during the year. As of the end of 2000, agricultural acreage in Sherburne County had shrunk to 93,384 acres, from 109,772 acres when zoning officials began reporting such platting activity in 1972.


BIG LAKE BULL RIDER Mike Wolbeck poses for a picture with his daughter, Paisley, and fiancee, Amanda Langerud.

Lily Noble helps the 4x200 relay team to first place

LIFE IN OLD TIME BIG LAKE was a very different proposition then it is today, middle school students from April Bischoff and Ann Segner’s classes discovered when they had some guest speakers come to class Wednesday. Sharing their history were long-time residents Darlene Lanz and Dee and Norm Leslie. That’s me on the right. (Photo by April Bischoff).

BIG LAKE Finance Director Deb Wegeleben was serving as an interim but was awarded the position permanently because she did the job so well.