Proposed living facility will have a commercial kitchen

February 25, 2008

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The Dassel City Council scheduled a special hearing for Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 5 p.m. in Dassel City Hall to consider a conditional use permit for an assisted living facility at the intersection of Highways 12 and 15.

City council members agreed Tuesday that the intent of the planning and zoning commission Jan. 15 was that Roz Ewald’s application for the 48-unit facility should be a conditional use permit, and not a variance. The council denied the variance, and then scheduled the hearing for the permit application.

The $3.5 million facility will provide 24-hour customized living services, and is proposed for the northwest corner of the intersection, in a commercial zone.

The proposed facility is licensed by the Department of Health as a motel/hotel, partly because the individual living units won’t have kitchens. The food for residents will be prepared in the facility’s commercial kitchen, Ewald said.

Council Member Bob Wilde said the lack of individual kitchens in the rooms fit the city’s definition of a hotel or motel.

City Administrator Myles McGrath, however, said according to a strict interpretation of the zoning ordinance, he believed the assisted-living facility will not fit in a commercial zone. McGrath said the residential land south of John Dahl’s development, in the southwest corner of Dassel would be more appropriate.

Wilde added that there is so much senior housing in that corner of Dassel, many residents call it “Geezer” Street.

Ewald said, though, that Cedar Crest, another assisted living facility, in Hutchinson, was in a residential area at Shady Ridge Road. The neighbors complained of the large trucks bringing food, oxygen tanks and other supplies to the facility. Ewald wanted the new facility to be well away from private residences, she said.

Ewald said the intersection of Highways 12 and 15 was the gateway or entryway to Dassel. The facility will sell its services to the general public as other commercial entities do.

“The exposure would do us good,” she said.

Ewald also pointed out the city is considering amending the ordinance for a C2 zone to allow light manufacturing with a conditional use permit. Factories don’t sell to the general public, as the proposed facility will. Factories sell to other companies, she said.

Mayor Ava Flachmeyer pointed out how attractive the facility will be, and that it might be built next door to a manufacturing plant proposed by Spectralytics.

“I don’t see you meshing,” Flachmeyer said.

Ewald and her attorney, Kelsey Page of Minnetonka, told about other places in the area they researched for the facility, such as Cherry Circle development, and the area farther south of Dassel. The other locations were either too small, the facility needs at least four acres, or too residential, Page said.

Page said the proposed facility will be good for the economy in Dassel. It will provide 40 jobs, and bring in extra customers for local businesses. Ewald is not looking for anything free or subsidized.

“It’s nothing but a benefit for this community,” Page said.

Later, Flachmeyer agreed. “I see it as an asset to Dassel,” she said.

Conditions to the permit might include a requirement that the proposed facility not interfere with the commercial or manufacturing business around them. Permits in areas zoned agricultural often include a condition that the property owner applying for the permit can not interfere or complain about the agricultural business around them, Wilde said.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• greeted the new city attorney, Kyle Hartnett. The former city attorney, Kristen Carr, moved to Colorado.

• authorized calling for bids for the new $900,000 water tower project in two parts, the tower, and the water main additions.

• authorized calling for bids for the Dassel Area Historical Society’s addition on the Ergot building. The bids will have two parts, a bid for just annex, and a bid for the entire project including an annex and a community room.

• approved a vacation of a utility easement filed by Peter Aho of the AAA development in the Summit Addition.

• approved a request to close Atlantic Avenue between Second and Fourth Streets for Sunday, Aug. 31, to conduct a Minn-E-Rod Association event.

• noted the results of a speed study conducted on Highways 12 and 15 within Dassel by MnDOT, that no changes should be made.

• approved buying 10 snowflake street decorations for a total of $2,058, which is 40 percent off the regular price.

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