By Gabe Licht
An auto repair shop will be allowed to operate in the former county shed at 428 W. River Rd., behind Country Mall, following a 3-1 vote by the Delano City Council Tuesday to rezone the property.
Councilwoman Betsy Stolfa voted against the rezoning of the property and Councilwoman Holly Schrupp was absent.
Property owner Randy Valek and Realtor David Moore first approached the council in February to request the property to be rezoned so it could be sold to a small excavation company.
“In talking to city staff, they indicated that use would not be allowed within the B-2 zoning that does not allow for contractor’s yards, outdoor storage, or auto repair,” City Planner Al Brixius said.
By rezoning the property to B-3, auto repair and outdoor storage would be allowed with a Conditional Use Permit.
Reactions to the request were mixed, with some council members stating it would allow the site to be used similarly to how it had been used in the past and clean up the site, while others did not believe the change would fit into the city’s comprehensive plan for the area.
“The present owner drastically improved the look of that building,” Councilman Jack Russek said. “The only bad thing is, right on the south end, we have residential (properties). That’s been there years and years. I’m sure it wasn’t good for them when the county was there. They were moving salt at 2 a.m. An auto shop isn’t going to be using it at 2 a.m.”
Councilman Jason Franzen said he had met with Valek and Moore to discuss the issue. He relayed that Valek said he has never received a complaint from residential neighbors, and had a good relationship with them, as evidenced by him plowing their driveway.
“I’m in favor of this,” Franzen said. “I’d love to see the site get cleaned up.”
Stolfa agreed that the site would likely be cleaned up if it were rezoned, but still had reservations.
“My view is, when we put together the comprehensive plan, we had a vision for that corner of Highway 12 to have compatible businesses that played off each other that were commercial and consistent with B-2, not B-3,” Stolfa said. “The city has longstanding goals in place to make an aesthetic appeal to the town. I think this will improve aesthetics, but not as much as B-2 . . . so I’m not in favor of it.”
Franzen contended that he would be more concerned about aesthetics if the site was not set back from Highway 12 as far as it is and if the property would not be fenced, as will be required by the Conditional Use Permit. He also noted that other properties have been rezoned from B-2 to B-3, so “there’s clearly a precedence for this.”
“It’s not far back from residences adjacent to it, or people coming into the area on (Wright County Road) 16,” Stolfa said. “All these things were considered as part of the comprehensive plan development. When we were looking at the vision of the town, we were not looking at outdoor storage.”
Russek suggested accepting the recommendation of the planning commission to rezone the property with a number of conditions.
One condition is for the area being used for outdoor storage, parking, or a driveway be paved and that parking spaces, including a handicapped-accessible space as required by the American with Disabilities Act, be striped.
“We’ll ask for how the building is used to make sure they have adequate parking,” Brixius said.
Before the property can be occupied, it will need to be inspected, and the uses for outdoor storage will need to be specified.
“We have real concern with establishing storage yards with what’s going in them,” Brixius said. “We’d like to have a list of how outdoor storage will be used.”
He emphasized the importance of complying with the CUP.
“If you don’t understand it and are not going to comply with it, the CUP will be in violation, and you will not be allowed to occupy the site,” Brixius said.
When Moore asked if the full 6,000-square-foot area be paved, at an estimated cost of $15,000, Brixius replied, “If that’s the area you’re going to include within the fenced area for outdoor storage, yes, that’s what we’re asking for. You’re telling us what your outdoor storage area is. We’re telling you if it’s outdoor storage or driveway, it has to be paved.”
Moore said he would relay those requirements to Valek. Brixius also shared them with Levi Hendrickson, who hopes to use the site for a small auto repair shop.
Ball field flood improvements
In response to flooding of Municipal Stadium Ball Field, the council accepted a bid of $88,945 from Doboszenski and Sons for improvements, contingent upon the city receiving an acceptable bid to restore the sod once the project is complete.
“The project includes converting the configuration of the Central Park ball field from more of a bowl shape to having it crowned in the middle and draining to the outfield and foul line,” City Engineer Vince Vander Top said. “The work includes stripping some of the sod, raising the grades, and also as alternates, we bid storm sewer improvements.”
The quote does not include seeding or sodding, so the city will seek bids for that work, with hopes of approving a bid in July, with work beginning Aug. 10.
Mayor Dale Graunke suggested removing sod from the park and using it in other places in the city, so money allocated for those projects could be used to resod the ball field.
City Administrator Phil Kern said city staff would look into that possibility.
He noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing $92,000 for reimbursement out of the hazard-mitigation fund. That number included funds for restoration, but not for storm sewer improvements. Any amount above $92,000 will need to be paid out of city funds.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• accepted a bid of $63,713 from Pearson Brothers for seal-coating on portions of Aspen Circle, Third and Fourth Street North, Bonita Circle, Maple Avenue East, Marsh Drive, Oak Avenue East, Park Avenue, Tower Drive, and Tiger Drive.
• approved the following requests for address changes: From 768 Settlers Ct. to 768 Watertown Ave. and from 648 Ridgewood Ln. to 648 Lynn Ct.
• approved licenses for club, on-sale liquor, Sunday on-sale liquor, 3.2 malt liquor with and without wine on-sale, 3.2 malt liquor off-sale, brewpubs, taproom, growlers, coin-operated machines, dance/music, fireworks, solid waste, and recycling. Included was the approval of six outdoor music events at Delano Lanes and Entertainment between July 25 and Oct. 10, which led the council to discuss past complaints about outdoor music and an emphasis on decibel limits and other requirements.
• learned that Franzen has been appointed to the Wright County Human Services Commission.