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St. Mary's project, waterfront building, get city OK

The St. Mary's Innovis Health Center campus plan came before the Detroit Lakes City Council for a preliminary vote Tuesday night and passed as submitted after more than two hours of discussion.

After a third public meeting on the planned unit development, neighbors showed up in full force this time to dispute a portion of the proposal.

"We seek to be a good neighbor," CEO Tom Thompson said.

"We don't see it in evidence," resident Mark Olson replied.

Thompson said that if he could do the process over, he would have met one-on-one with neighbors to discuss the matter with them. Being as it is though, neighbors came out Tuesday evening to express their concerns with bringing delivery truck traffic down Oak Street, past many of their houses. The main concerns were about the cost of street repairs, truck traffic and safety, employees parking on Oak Street and in front of driveways, and noise.

City Engineer Gary Nansen said that Oak Street does have the capacity to accommodate truck traffic, and that any extra traffic would not be enough to speed the deterioration of the street.

Thompson said the noise issue would be null with the loading dock because delivery trucks would back up to the loading dock rather than dropping a ramp on the street.

It was also suggested that St. Mary's control their own traffic by using Park Street, which St. Mary's plans to ask be vacated in the near future. Thompson argued that that would cause more safety concerns because it would run past the Lincoln Park living facilities.

Besides the opposition to trucks running on Oak Street, residents said parking is a problem now and will only get worse with the proposed plan. Employee parking is proposed for the northwest corner of the campus, where parking is currently located. Audience members said those that work at Lincoln Park and Oak Crossing would not park there, but instead continue to park on Oak Street and Lincoln Avenue.

"Parking is atrocious," Clayton Olsen said. "And I don't like the idea of big trucks on Oak."

It was determined that truck traffic would be re-routed away from Oak Street, but would use Lincoln Avenue instead, which also affected Olsen, who lives at the corner of Oak Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Judy Coleman said since she doesn't work, "my hobby has become parking on our street." She said she watches as cars bump each other, trying to fit into a spot that isn't even a spot along Oak Street.

She pointed out that there already exists a parking lot behind Lincoln Park Assisted Living but that no one parks in the lot. Maybe the Oak Street residents should use the lot, since the employees don't, she suggested, which drew laughter from everyone.

Alderman GL Tucker said he didn't want to "encumber" St. Mary's, but he also didn't want the truck traffic going through the residential area. And no matter what streets St. Mary's may tell truck drivers to take, there will be some drivers who do what they want and will end up taking Oak Street because it's the shortest distance.

"The only thing, the only thing that makes sense, because you can control it, is to bring (truck traffic) on Park Street," he said.

"You have essentially landlocked yourself. Do something on your own campus," Alderman Ron Zeman agreed.

"We are landlocked," agreed Thompson. "But this is the site. It's not like we're going out to a green field" and starting with a new project, he said.

The truck traffic is already using Lincoln Avenue, Thompson said. If St. Mary's was to redesign and use Park Avenue, the general public would only use it as a shortcut to somewhere and cause more concerns.

Different truck routes were proposed, including using Washington and McKinley avenues to access Willow Street and then Lincoln Avenue. But, it was then proposed that Park Street be used to get to the loading dock rather than Oak Street or Lincoln Avenue. The motion failed 5-4, with Leonard Heltemes, Jamie Marks Erickson, Zeman and Tucker voting in favor of Park Avenue.

A second proposal was made to accept the plan as submitted, but posting a sign at Oak Street that no trucks were allowed, and requiring St. Mary's to rout trucks down Washington or Roosevelt avenues only to Willow Street and north on Lincoln Avenue. That motion passed.

As for the parking issue, while the council didn't take action, it will keep in mind the street may need to be posted for residential parking only.

"Get your staff together and solve this tomorrow," Tucker said to Thompson, adding that he would be very disappointed if the city has to enforce the parking issue on Oak Street because St. Mary's can't get its employees to use its own parking lots.

Not much discussion was given to the location of the EMS building. Aldermen said they had gotten many of their questions answered and supported that portion of the proposal. They took a vote and 8-1 (Zeman voting against) agreed the McKinley location was acceptable for the emergency bus building.

"We try to be as respectful as we can to the residents," manager Dave Langworthy said.

Waterfront project


The council approved the Detroit Lakes Waterfront LLC project at West Lake Drive and Washington Avenue.

Alderman Ron Zeman said the city giving three variances to the development set off a red flag for him.

"I want something down there, but I don't want all these variance to do it," he said.

Developer Drew Olson said although the request is for 58 percent impervious surface, he has the proposal down to 52 percent. He also assured Zeman that he has been told over and over again that underground parking will work in that location.

Scott Walz, Meadowland Surveying, said with technology improvements, the impervious surface requirements shouldn't be about water treatment but rather green space.

The Department of Natural Resources set the 25 percent impervious requirement in the 1980s, he said, for water-off with no treatment. Since then though, any development, residential or commercial, is required to treat the water, therefore it could be 100 percent impervious but all be treated before it goes into the lake.

"We can make the water clean no matter what the impervious surface," he said, adding that it's about green space now.

The project passed with Imholte and Marks Erickson abstaining from the vote due to conflicts of interest.

Library gives up

expansion plans

The council agreed to replace all of the windows in the DL Library. Many of the windows "are in very, very bad shape," Librarian Mary Haney said. "You can just about put a finger clean through."

The window casings along the south side are the most rotten, but the council decided it would make more sense to replace all of the windows at once. Funding will come from the liquor fund.

The sidewalk and curb with also be replaced, with the library fund paying for the sidewalk portion. The fund is from donations to be used when the city can't cover the cost of an improvement to the library.

Haney also said the plans for an addition to the library are off the table. To have a building that resembles the standing one would cost about $11 million.

$100,000 road study for high-growth area

The council agreed to enter into an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Becker County on long range planning for transportation from south of Highway 10 to County Road 6, west of the airport to west of Highway 59.

The plan will look at a frontage road, access to the Ray J. Anderson property, what to do if Airport Road closes, a possible overpass or underpass at the railroad tracks west of town, and other issues

Total cost of the project is estimated to be $100,000, with MnDOT paying $50,000, the city paying $40,000 and the county paying $10,000. MnDOT will be in charge of the project.

The city's portion will be taken out of the permanent improvement fund.

Also at the meeting:

n The council agreed the sidewalk assessment policy in the commercial district will stay the way it is, with commercial owners being responsible for 100 percent of the sidewalk.

n A Crush the Rush event will take place today (Wednesday) from 5 to 7 p.m. at the city beach. This is in conjunction with Young Life's upcoming triathlon event this weekend.