www.herald-journal.com
Extension of sewer and water to Independence discussed

July 7, 2008

Commercial development, including a potential Target, is the main reason for meeting

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

A meeting took place June 27 with representatives of the City of Delano, City of Independence, and also Ryan Companies, based in Minneapolis, regarding the possible extension of sewer and water utilities from Delano into Independence for future commercial development.

Mark Schoening and Tony Barranco, representing Ryan Companies’ retail development division, met with the Independence Planning Commission Jan. 14 to discuss development in the area of Highway 12 and County Line Road, near Delano United Methodist Church.

They told the planning commission they would like to develop a tract of land near the corner of Highway 12 and County Line Road, with Target as the anchor store, according to the planning commission minutes.

At the meeting June 27, discussion took place on establishing terms for the extension of sewer and water from Delano into Independence for such a project, said Delano City Administrator Phil Kern.

“It comes down to, if Delano is providing utilities to something in Independence, what does Delano get in terms of compensation for doing that?” Kern said, adding that no decisions were made at the meeting.

The City of Independence does not have a feasible way of providing utilities to the western boundaries of its city limits, which is why Delano is being asked to consider extending its utilities into Independence.

“It is a unique situation,” Kern said, noting the city has never previously extended sewer or water into another jurisdiction.

Another factor coming into play is the City of Independence’s comprehensive land use plan, which is in the process of being updated, and needs to be approved by the Metropolitan Council. All cities in the seven-county metropolitan area are required to review comprehensive plans and submit a revised plan to the Metropolitan Council in 2008.

“It’s a little different than being in Wright County,” said Independence Mayor Marvin Johnson. “Every proposal has to go there. There’s a couple of cities that found that out the hard way.”

Johnson said it is expected the land use plan will be presented to the city council this year, with consideration from the Met Council coming, at the earliest, in 2009. He said that process needs to happen and be approved before any development could take place in the area of Highway 12 and County Line Road.

At the Independence Planning Commission meeting Jan. 17, Barranco said it is unorthodox to come to the planning commission so early in the process, but said he realizes the City of Independence is in the process of updating its comprehensive plan, and said he would like the commission to consider rezoning this land to commercial, according to the planning commission minutes.

If it looks like it would be considered, they would continue to work on a plan. If not, they wouldn’t pursue the development further, according to the minutes. He stated that they have looked at the area surrounding Delano carefully, and there are few opportunities.

“They did a wonderful job of their presentation,” Johnson said. “They understand policy and procedures and so forth – they were very good about stating this doesn’t mean they are making a proposal, but they want to have it for consideration, because in the future, they might.”

Discussion then took place at the planning commission meeting as to whether Independence can support a Target. The Target Corporation representative replied that it’s just a little early, but very close.

A resident in attendance at the planning commission meeting stated this would be a great opportunity for Target, but wonders how it will affect small businesses in Maple Plain and Delano. She stated if Independence is looking for a big-box store, this is a great spot for it.

Commissioner Carl Phillips felt this would be a drastic change, but it could be what people want. Commissioner Greg Gardella felt the idea is worth the effort to do a little more work on a buffer detail, as that is probably the most important piece of the plan, according to the minutes.

Commissioner Mario Crespo thinks this is a long shot, since a proposed polo field was too invasive for the agricultural district. But, he thinks it’s a great spot, and felt the city should see what the people in that area will say.

Planning Commission Chairman Brad Spencer agreed that such a development would be a huge change for that area, and the conversation should be continued with the task force studying its comprehensive land use plan updates.

Reached recently, Barranco said he’s been working with both municipalities (Delano and Independence) in an effort to bring more retail to the market area.

“At this time, we are making progress with the plans, and working through all the details,” Barranco said. “We’d love to get active in doing this as fast as we can.”

Keeping in mind the update to the comprehensive land use plan, as well as working with the existing land owners, Barranco said it’s probably a year or two out before any plans could come to fruition.

Ryan Companies is a design-build general contractor.

Do you know more about this subject, or have a comment? E-mail news@hjpub.com