This suburb located ten miles north of downtown St. Paul was once a gated community that now has all city land owned by the homeowners of the North Oaks Home Owners Association (NOHOA). The Association maintains all city services. Hence, all land is private; the city itself owns no property. Thus, the Metropolitan Council has no jurisdiction regarding North Oaks’ master plan within the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.
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The land on which the town sits was once the North Oaks Farm, owned by railroad magnate James J. Hill. The farm remained in the family until 1950 when Hill’s grandchildren developed the tract into a residential community and incorporated the North Oaks Company. Concerned with urban sprawl, they sold subdivided plots that came with a warranty deed creating the NOHOA. Since each deed established the homeowner’s property line halfway into the street, all roads are privately owned. North Oaks has approximately 4,500 residents.
North Oaks is served by Mounds View Public School District. Chippewa Middle (6-8), located with the city limits, is one of the few public middle schools in Minnesota to receive a coveted GreatSchools rating of 10 out of 10. The school district also includes Oak Grove Senior Special Education (9-12). Also within the city limits is Oak Hill Montessori. Note that Minnesota has a “interdistrict choice” option; this means a child can attend any school outside of the home district.
According to Sperling’s BestPlaces, “recent job growth is negative” in North Oaks. This is one reason why the city is considered a bedroom community; the average commute time to work is 28 minutes. The largest employers in town are the North Oaks Country Club, Macy’s, Oak Grove High and Chippewa Middle, each estimated with 100 – 249 employees.
Parks and Recreation
Since the NOHOA owns the parks and recreational areas, they are considered private property and intended for residential use only. The NOHOA takes wide latitude and a narrow view toward trespassing; in May 2008, the Association filed a complaint with Google, claiming that their Street View software images violated the town’s trespassing ordinance and asked that the images be deleted. Google complied to the extent that the street image of Hwy 96 W between Galtier Street and Hodgson Road does not appear due to the fact that the North Oaks city limits extend over the entire roadway. The exclusive North Oaks Golf Club has both social and golf memberships available. The nearest public park is Turtle Creek Park on the shores of Turtle Lake across Hodgson Road in St. Paul.
The City of North Oaks sponsors what is known as “Playgroup,” a gathering for North Oak parents and their preschool children. During the summer, they often meet at the beach or playground with a picnic lunch.
Did You Know …
… the original buildings on James J. Hill’s farm have been restored for public viewing and that the Blacksmith and Machine Shop and the Dairy Building are listed on the National Register of Historic Places?
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