consultants are sandburs

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Gee isn't that home something. And priced to sell. Strib publishes a gallery of knock-you-out-of-your-socks photos.

Strib, here, a North Oaks Minnesota McMansion. For sale. Yours for only one and a quarter million bucks, asking price.

Before writing that check, Wikipedia on North Oaks, opening two paragraphs:

North Oaks is an affluent suburb 10 miles (16 km) north of Saint Paul in Ramsey County in the U.S. state of Minnesota. The population was 4,469 at the 2010 census.[6]

Formerly a gated community that now posts private access signage, all land is owned by homeowners with the North Oaks Home Owners Association maintaining all roads, plowing, parks, facilities, and recreation trails. Each homeowner's property extends halfway into the street. There is also a city government with a Mayor and City Council that administers basic services such as fire, police, planning, and licensing. The city owns no property. The Metropolitan Council has jurisdiction over the city's comprehensive plan within Minneapolis-Saint Paul, the sixteenth largest metropolitan area in the United States.[7]

Yes, cutting that check buys you into covenants, conditions and restrictions, CCR's, which any potential buyer might wish to read before handing the full payment into escrow. Met Council jurisdiction? What exactly does that mean?

All land is owned by homeowners with the North Oaks Home Owners Association" doing civic upkeep; for what annual cost, each home, that one? It is not merely a question of looking at City Hall tax records; although they count too. But that Association, it constrains, it costs.

Looking at the homeowners' association books and records might be a wise step for any potential purchaser, and earnest money contracts can be conditioned upon buyer's subjective approval of CCRs and association fee structure and amounts - the books and records. That golf course, what's its annual cost to that homesite, past, present, likely future? Conditioning a purchase and sale agreement that way only makes sense. Doing the research before having a discernible interest might be viewed as foolhardy. While doing duly diligent investigation, putting in the time, paying the lawyer(s), some other family might buy the place and you've burned investigative investment; so you might, if a potential purchaser, want a string to things before that expense.

Don't those images in Strib look appealing, and only one and a quarter million bucks, asking price. Who could say no?

Who would ever be so impudent as to ask in advance: What's the buy-in get you in terms of headaches as well as amenities; and is the balance appealing to you? If you had the cash to buy-in, that financial power, but only that, and plunged; there might be a surprise. But, only those who are like-minded in owning and enjoying the privacy and good cheer would want in, and would govern their collective accordingly, Wikipedia noting mid-item:

Louis Hill later owned North Oaks Farm until death in 1950. Ownership passed to Louis' children who decided to develop the land into a model residential community. They incorporated the North Oaks Company with a mission to build with respect for the natural environment, having witnessed metropolitan sprawl during this time. To ensure their mission would be fulfilled, land was subdivided and sold with a warranty deed that created the North Oaks Home Owners’ Association (NOHOA) to be responsible for roads and recreation. Each deed placed each home's property line halfway into the street, placing all roads into private ownership.

Remaining land in the city is owned by the North Oaks Company. The original farm buildings have been restored and are viewable to the public along with informational displays; tours are also available. Two of the remaining structures, the Blacksmith Shop and Machine Shop and Dairy Building, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In May 2008, NOHOA sent a letter to internet search company Google, stating that its Street View software contained images that violated their trespassing ordinance, and requested their removal.[8]

Whatever might anyone have to object to, in that? Is Wikipedia correct, a home owners association having their own ordinances? Or is it a municipal ordinance, inspired by the NOHOA? North Oaks Company, LLC? Original filing; spring of 1996; Louis Hill's death, 1950. There is time there for a history to have evolved; and from 1996 to today's home purchase opportunity, more history. An opportunity to buy a home in a distinct community. Under Met Council jurisdiction; so a prudent buyer has another investigative notice - are homes on private well and septic, for good; or in line for metro sewer and water hook-ups in the future and consequent fees? Or might that transition have already happened, which homeowner association records might reveal?

Isn't the story of life, always more questions than easily found online answers? Zillow:

Two web pages of for sale listings? Prices vary. You can research the list by price, lot size, when built, so this one is not the highest ticket item per Zillow. Is this an inordinate amount of listing action, for that kind of community? If so, is there cause, or coincidence?

With that home not being the highest priced, per Zillow, one might ask, Glen Taylor's Strib, are they running an advertisement as if news; not captioning it as advertisement even if the listing agent/brokerage paid a fee? Strib and the brokerage know, but it's not clear to readers of the online item. The item is categorized by Strib, "Variety." How was that one opportunity picked to feature, and with it alone featured, where is the "variety?" Is this a view home; or a secluded wooded property? The Strib gallery shows no grounds/gardening, nor view.

High end North Oaks prices do vary, per Zillow:

More Zillow, here, for bottom feeders in a top tier community. This:

Enough, if not already too much.

__________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
"Enough" said too soon.

198 pages of LAND USE ordinances of the City; apart from the NOHOA's documents. Latest City online minutes (a 12/8/16 meeting); sewer/water and storm water were topics. Easement question noted between NOHOA and the Company; Mail thefts(Huh?); and that's but one recent meeting.

Community organizations. Local Restaurants. More organizations than restaurants.

A screen capture, from City of North Oaks website, "HELPFUL LINKS"

click image to enlarge and read

FURTHER: City of North Oaks, 2008 Met Council mandated Comprehensive Plan [no-maps]. No more recent comp plan for that town was located from the City website's site map page. If a more current plan, or a draft of one is in existence, inquiry of city planning officials should yield the info; along with planning maps. If a consultant is being retained for comp plan purposes, ditto; vs combing through town online minutes. It's unfortunately a cottage industry in the Twin Cities metro area; comp plan consulting; and those practicing it are of a quality that can be judged from the plans submitted to Met Council; with the online 2008 North Oaks plan [no-maps] being 96 pages; shorter than the LAND USE ordinances. Planners and planning consultants are who they are.

A ten-year old plan noting a single PUD as "development" per these screen captures of the final two pages of the linked item begs a host of questions. The older homes on well/septic; are they being channeled to Met Council - municipal services, with SAC and WAC charges looming; or is Met Council not that bloodthirsty with this locale? Interesting questions; and why a ten year old plan is all that is in town records aside from meeting agendas and minutes is one such interesting hummer. Caveat emptor? Buyer diligence seems due; if popping a million plus for a property. (click a thumbnail to enlarge and read)

Back to Wikipedia, noting early (as is also written in the 2008 Comp Plan [no maps], with parallel wording under a "HISTORY" segment):

Structured around Pleasant Lake, the area began as a water source for the Saint Paul municipal water system, which still maintains water access rights today. The land was later purchased by Saint Paul magnate James J. Hill in 1883 and expanded into a 5,000-acre (20 km2) breeding and hobby farm.

With others in Ramsey County having Pleasant Lake as their domestic water reservoir, populous areas, water quality considerations for the lake would affect questions of remaining homes on private septic systems with any adjacency to the reservoir, as well as lawn and garden chemical runoff considerations where algal blooms would not add to tap water taste or quality; and with a host of different homeowner associations identified, as of 2008; having a lawyer skilled in land use law and the reading of a title policy would seem a first step for any duly diligent potential purchaser of a million dollar plus home. There is an old saying about penny wise, pound foolish, which would apply to choosing and funding legal help.

_______________FURTHER UPDATE______________
The opening page of the most recent [Sept. 2016] 2-page North Oaks Planning Commisison online minutes notes Comp Plan updating is a pending consideration; per this screen capture.

click to enlarge and read

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