NEWPORT - The biggest housing development to come to Newport hit a new milestone last week.

To mark its official opening to the public, Bailey Meadows hosted an open house with city staff and councilmembers on March 7. The new neighborhood will have about 185 homes ranging from $400,000-$600,000 - adding to a housing boom the city hasn't seen since the '80s, said city planner Sherri Buss.

In the past two years, Newport has seen more homes added than it did in the decade prior. Since 2017, the city has approved 37 permits for homes, including six this year for Bailey Meadows, said Travis Brierley, assistant to the city administrator. From 2006-2016, 24 homes were built.

"It's a big boost for Newport, in terms of property taxes and fees for the sewer and water system," Buss said.

National homebuilder M/I Homes and Golden Valley Land Co., which developed the lots, began construction in July 2018. About 100 units will be single-family homes, while the rest are main floor living-style villas, built with empty nesters in mind, said John Rask, vice president of land development for M/I Homes.

Students are zoned to go to Newport Elementary School, Oltman Middle School and East Ridge High School, Buss said.

Twenty units have been sold so far, Rask said.

"This property has been on our radar for a long time ... but it took the right economy to come along with a developer with a big enough checkbook to want to do it," said Newport City Council member Kevin Chapdelaine.

Another key factor was finding a developer who could wait while the city determined it could extend sewer and water lines to the area, said City Administrator Deb Hill. The project cost the city about $3 million, which the developers will reimburse.

"We ran the numbers, and it's a big benefit to the city long-term," Mayor Dan Lund said at the event.

Chapdelaine said that while the new neighborhood will benefit the city by increasing the tax base, he wants to ensure that runoff doesn't lower the quality of the nearby La and Ria lakes - a concern some residents shared leading up to the city's approval of the development.

Still, drainage mechanisms such as ponds and swales are expected to keep runoff from increasing, said John Loomis, water resources program manager at the South Washington County Watershed District.