Proposed development in Afton aims to protect trout brook

A proposed development project in the Afton, Minnesota is drawing praise and criticism on how developers aim to conserve a trout brook that is protected by the Department of Natural Resources.                

Joe Bush of J.P. Bush homes gave Fox 9 a tour of the 218-acre piece of property he wants to develop into the  Afton Creek Preserve. Bush says the project would include 20 houses placed on five-acre lots.

The other 109 acres would be set aside for a conservation easement, including walking paths, scenic overlooks for the public, buffer strips and wildflowers aimed at filtering pesticides from what is currently farm land and maintain the natural picturesque setting. Bush plans to construct all of this while also preserving the already protected trout brook running through the middle.

“We are taking what is a hazard and creating an enjoyable, usable profit in the end," Bush said. 

But, as with any development, neighbors have concerns. The Grahams recognize a development is appropriate here, but believe too many houses are being put onto delicate soil and the road is too close to a dangerous curve.

“It’s a narrow gravel road and they would substantially increase traffic on that road," said Randy Graham. "The intersection would be unsafe. There would have to be major modifications.”

“If you were  to put a road on the west side you would be putting a road through the heart and soul of our conservation,” Bush said. 

Bush points to a letter from the South Washington County Watershed District commending the City of Afton and the developer on the project saying, “It is our hope this project serves as model for future developments in Afton and  the surrounding communities in South Washington County.”

Time will tell whether this particular project will meet criteria by city engineers and city council as well. 

“It’s a beautiful piece of property, if its developed right it could be fantastic,” Graham said.