Big trucks stir up trouble in Farmington neighborhood
Richard and Pam Tucker have seen a lot of development spring up around their Embers Avenue home on the northern border of Farmington. But it’s a project in Lakeville that has the Tuckers feeling a little dusty these days.
They have lived in their home for nearly 30 years. Theirs was the only house in the area when they first moved in. Houses cropped up around them over the years, but the land to the north in the city of Lakeville always remained undeveloped.
“We always anticipated something like this would happen,” Richard said, with a nod to the north, where a Caterpillar excavator and bulldozer are moving piles of fresh dirt.
It’s not the piles of dirt that is causing them grief these days, though. They’re more concerned about the dump trucks — a dozen or so an hour — that are exiting the Lakeville property off of a gravel track and onto Embers Avenue.
The Lakeville property is owned by a private developer. The developer is constructing a project at another site, but using the property just north of Farmington as a dumping ground for infill from the other site. The dirt is hauled in by the tons as dump trucks and side loaders enter the site from Pilot Knob Road.
Once those dump trucks are empty, they have been routed to a gravel track that connects to Embers Avenue, right in front of the Tuckers’ home. At the stop sign on the corner of the Tuckers’ lot, the trucks turn right onto 180th Street West, and continue to Pilot Knob Road.
On the average, Richard said, about 100 of the large trucks pass their home daily, and the drivers are often driving fast as they come off the gravel track, leaving a plume of dust in their wake.
Having dump trucks barreling through the neighborhood has been a concern. 180th Street West does not have sidewalks, so kids in the neighborhood have no place to ride bikes, other than the street. There are residents who walk along the street, and many of the neighbors have pets. So far, no one has been hurt, but many neighbors have shared their concerns.
“It impacts everybody,” Pam said. “We all leave our windows in the house closed, even on nice days like today, because otherwise everything gets filthy from all of the dust.”
While the neighbors have put up with the dump trucks during the week, it was an unrelated event on Sunday that spurred residents in the neighborhood to complain to Farmington and Dakota County officials.
Another developer, working on a charity housing construction project, had enlisted volunteers to drive truckloads of infill from the charity project site up to the Lakeville project land. The second developer knew the first developer, but had not gotten permission to dump dirt on the site.
Still, all the residents knew was that the dump trucks were running on a Sunday, their one day of reprieve.
Farmington city engineer Kevin Schorzman received a number of complaints on Monday. Even after learning the circumstances surrounding Sunday’s activity, Schorzman went up and met with Pam Tucker.
Relief in sight
Schorzman admits it was his own oversight that residents were not informed about the truck traffic before it began coming through their neighborhood. When the Lakeville project began, the trucks were entering and exiting from Pilot Knob, but the rainy weather and subsequent muddy conditions left a mess on the county road, so Schorzman was asked if the trucks could be re-routed to 180th Street West. He said yes, thinking the empty dump trucks would not cause damage to the residential street.
But after Sunday’s complaints, and a trip to the neighborhood, Schorzman contacted the Lakeville project’s developer.
“I told them the residents weren’t pleased with what was happening, and that people were complaining about the speed and the dust,” he said.
In response, the developer has indicated to Schorzman that an alternate route will be created so the truck traffic will resume its entrance from and exit to Pilot Knob Road. That should happen in a matter of days, he said.
That solution should work just fine for the Tuckers, who enjoy watching the world go by from the comfort of their perennial garden, which faces the Lakeville property.
“It’s going to be interesting to see it progressing,” he said of the project, “but it can progress out to Pilot Knob.”