Developer proposes 12 new ‘cabins’ on St. Croix River

St. Croix Falls proposal would sell city land for construction of second homes.




3 minute read

This view from Minnesota shows part of the shoreline where the development would be built, along the visible river bank on the right side of the photo. (Greg Seitz/St. Croix 360)

A Stillwater company is proposing to build 12 new houses along a stretch of the St. Croix River north of the St. Croix Falls hydroelectric dam, working with the city, which owns the land. Several local citizens object to the plan after details were shared at a March 31 public meeting. Another discussion is planned at the city’s Plan Commission’s meeting on May 16.

The city of St. Croix Falls purchased the land from Xcel Energy about 20 years ago. Officials have now signed an agreement to sell it to GreenHalo Builds, a developer based in Stillwater. The sale is contingent on approval by the city and other agencies.

“Tucked away on a stretch of exquisite St. Croix riverfront, GreenHalo’s EcoRiver is meant as a secluded haven of second homes built with sustainability in mind,” the company says. “This cabin EcoVillage of 12 homesites features modern Scandinavian design and feel with one-level living options and innovative eco-friendly, net-zero ready custom designs. All home-sites offer 50 feet of rivershore with individual dock options on 9 miles of chartered serene, personal watercraft-free St. Croix.”

GreenHalo is hoping to build a total of 12 cabins or second homes on the site. GreenHalo says it is focused on sustainability, with its houses being more energy efficient than average. Calling the proposed new development “EcoRiver,” the builders promise it will be “built with sustainability in mind,” featuring “innovative eco-friendly, net-zero ready custom designs.” There have been no details yet on how it might reduce impacts on the Wild and Scenic St. Croix River.

The legality and ability to get the proposal approved has also been questioned, although St. Croix Falls says they believe it complies with the law. Because the land is located within an incorporated municipality, development restrictions are different than other parts of the river. But questions have already come up about scenic easements and other possible deed restrictions.

“Our understanding is it’s possible to build on there, but we have to wait for that determination to come in,” city administrator Joel West said at the March 31 meeting. “The development needs to go through the full approval process, get comments from the DNR and the federal government, in addition to approval from city council.”

West also said, based on discussions with the developer, homes might be priced about $500,000. St. Croix 360 contacted GreenHalo for comment and received information already publicly available.

Map of development courtesy GreenHalo Builds

Residents at the meeting had many questions and concerns. The lots would be located along a forested stretch of river bank currently owned by the public. New structures would blemish a beautiful river. The surface would switch from soil and native vegetation to asphalt and grass. It would encroach on a quiet area currently occupied by a mobile home community and small marina. New roads would be built, and new outdoor lighting could be added.

The March 31 meeting attendees was “the first step in 50-step process,” administrator West said. “Nothing is written in stone here.”

He pledged that he and other city staff were taking notes and would convey community concerns to the city council. The proposal is also on the agenda for the city’s Plan Commission meeting on May 16. The meeting is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. at St. Croix Falls City Hall, 710 Hwy 35, St. Croix Falls, WI.


27 responses to “Developer proposes 12 new ‘cabins’ on St. Croix River”

  1. Carol Avatar

    Are there no restrictions on the size of shoreline footage that is REQUIRED for any dwelling to be built. Zoning restrictions often require a strict minimum; e.g., 100 ft per building? This sounds like a terrible mis-use of what appears to be ‘public’ shoreland property along a wild, scenic protected riverway.

    1. Lisa Jensen Avatar
      Lisa Jensen

      Please come help us save our neighborhood. May 16th, 7-9. St. Croix Falls City Government bldg or Face book live. You can commen during the public comments at the beginning of the meeting.

    2. Dianne S Polasik Avatar
      Dianne S Polasik

      Think about this. A proposed development of twelve “second” homes or cabins 10 feet apart(requires zoning change from current 20 feet), 50 feet from the river(requires zoning change from 75 to 50 feet). Each property will have an individual dock and will add impermeable surfaces, forever changing the shoreline of this unique wild and scenic river. How does the city plan to balance wild river preservation with development here? Is it a big money maker for the city? They bought the land from Xcel for $346,000 and are selling it to Green Halo development for $375,000. Are they willing to sell part of St. Croix Falls unique beauty for that? I would like to see an opportunity for a conservancy or land trust to be part of this discussion to preserve the intent of the 1968 Wild and Scenic River Act.

  2. Lois Brink Avatar
    Lois Brink

    Nothing private should be put on that land. It should be for public use only!

  3. Nancy Avatar

    I’m not looking forward to the light pollution from the homes and street lights. If this does go through, it is very unfortunate for the river ecosystem.

  4. Richard Avatar

    Shame on you for CONSIDERING this!!!

  5. Jeff D Peterson Avatar
    Jeff D Peterson

    How about 50-foot lots from Solon Springs to Prescot! Why think small. All the hillbilly councils along the river will more than likely hand out tax “incentives” to all of the downtrodden developers that show up at their door. Why think small. May as well hand out permits to a couple of hog farms, and more than a few cattle operations along the St. Croix. Why think small. A nuclear or even a coal burner electric plant to power all of the fifty foot lots outdoor lighting would look great somewhere between Marine and Osceola. Fritz Mondale is rolling over in his grave…

    1. Val Avatar


  6. Luann Kleppe Avatar
    Luann Kleppe

    I have walked every foot of that land proposed to be developed, as I formally lived in community there. It is precious native habitat for multiple non-human animals that make it their home and habitat. Many native plants, shrubs and trees. These “eco-homes” are an outrageous slaughter to the land and river…so rich consumers can have their “second homes” and disrupt the native eco system there. Where is the “eco” in all that? Sounds like the community there will have to endure years of loud noises in the slaughter as well. Do I hear AirBnb frequent rentals too? The Wild and Scenic Riverway was dedicated to preserve…not develop the river and riverfront. A vote for this development is a vote that destroys the heart.

  7. Valoree Avatar

    What about the Wild and Scenic Riverway designation? Did that law anticipate shoreline homes, let alone second homes?

  8. Glen Nelson Avatar
    Glen Nelson

    Provides avenues for runoff, replacing the buffer zone that is currently provided between humanity and the river. The encroachment of of the river purportedly to give people who can afford ” Scenic river cabin 2nd homes” to display their opulence while blocking the view for the general populace. The absurd “eco river and green halo” labeling should trigger anyone to recognize the development is an afront to the spirit, or ecological well being of the area.

  9. KEITH SMITH Avatar

    Any one paying 500,000 is going to want a view of the river that means almost clear cutting all the trees x 12 houses = one big swatch gone forever , this can not happen say NO! its all about money NOT ECO!!!!!!!!!

  10. Oliver Bigelow Avatar
    Oliver Bigelow

    I have taken my daughter to the national park service building there almost yearly! When she was only 4 she went on a scavenger hunt to find certain things in this area and became a “park ranger” here. I still have pictures of her smile after she achieved it! Such a disgusting shame that city council would even consider this, none of your community wants this! No tourists want this! Every year I take her through this walkway and see countless other people walking their dogs etc. disgusting abuse of city council power.

  11. Mike Buck Avatar
    Mike Buck

    I’m a disabled person and enjoy kayaking on the river we’re you building these homes is I launch them along with my wife for years people tried to put a dock down there and the city stopped it now your letting 12 homes with docks? My question is are they going to put a dock or something in so can enjoy time also on the river you know that you can’t cross there Land GOD NO so your going to take a disabled person’s enjoyment of having access to fun and making the load it up drive to ramp launch it reload ir drive back home thus is BS

    1. Sc0tty Avatar

      Damn straight whatever happened to the National Wildlife Rivers right next to the shore that’s just what we need a bunch of bulshit leave that land alone should run up a hundred feet from the river all the way National Scenic River way

  12. Paul Jensen Avatar
    Paul Jensen

    Natural Scenic Riverway. Breeding grounds. Walter Mondale would cringe at the thought. Financial gains ARE in question here. The public are questioning here and i see “Check yourself because you are wrecking yourself”. The eye shed will be compromised significantly. The public will walk the nature walk to see What? This? Alas all i have to this is my vote is one big “NO THANK YOU”.

  13. Deah Avatar

    EVERYone GET to those MEETINGS! Being heard does make a difference. Across the river, Shafer stopped a 12 house development close but not quite on the park this year. This stuff needs people to fight for it.

  14. Andy Avatar

    Isn’t this almost exactly what previous Gov Scott Walker wanted by allowing one time short business profits over public enjoyment and nature resilience for the next 100+ years.

    I smell a very few eying long term Airbnb profits while the community will suffer from our of town party seekers forever.

    1. Jessica Huntington Avatar
      Jessica Huntington

      Yep, this has Airbnb written all over it.

  15. Michael J Kaiser Avatar
    Michael J Kaiser

    Somebody is getting ” Kick Backs “

  16. Chris P. B. Avatar
    Chris P. B.

    This Eco community sounds awesome! Such a great option got this community.

  17. steven graham Avatar
    steven graham

    Why not a Walgreens and a gas dock?
    Shame on you for even thinking this is a good idea!

  18. Jerry K. Avatar
    Jerry K.

    3 objectives to the development plan. Block the view from the fixed income residents, privatize the riverfront, gentrify the neighborhood by developing high taxed homes. This will ultimately displace the fixed and middle class residents who live here. Ever see million dollar homes built next to a trailer park?

  19. lisa west Avatar
    lisa west

    The park has been here for over 50 years. We leased the riverfront property for many years keeping it in its natural state and maintaining it. When the utility company put it up for sale the city snatched it up. We were under the impression they had preservation in mind. So we kept maintaining it for the 4 years they have owned it. Boy were we wrong. They never had any intentions of putting roads in. This developer “Green halo” offered to pay for these streets so they can get their hands on the shoreline land. What good are eco homes when they wipe out the thousands of trees and wildlife to do so. How many trees can they put around solar homes. It is not a balance of our nature. We need to protect it. Only if the trees and wildlife could talk. They would tell us what is.

  20. Doug Vezina Avatar
    Doug Vezina

    It is ironic that only about a half mile down the road the city has a plaque honoring Gaylord Nelson for the efforts he put into preserving the St Croix River.

  21. Nancy Avatar

    No re zoning keep it for all to enjoy in its natural state.
    Why continue to always build. Leave it be.

  22. Keith smith Avatar
    Keith smith

    MR. west we will do every thing in power to get ride fo you like they did in Osieola


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Developer proposes 12 new ‘cabins’ on St. Croix River