Alexandria, Minnesota 56308
Minutes of the meeting of August 31, 2021
A regular meeting/public hearing of the Planning Commission of Alexandria Township was held on the 31st day of August, 2021 at the Alexandria City Hall Council Chambers and via teleconference.
Roll Call: Commission members present were Shad Steinbrecher, Larry Steidl, Linda Dokken-McFann and Julie Haar. Also present were Bonnie Fulghum, Deputy Clerk, and Ben Oleson, Township Zoning Administrator. As said members formed a quorum and the meeting was called to order by Chairman Steidl at 5:00 p.m.
Agenda: Dokken-McFann, seconded by Haar, made a motion to approve the agenda as written. Motion carried unanimously.
Chairman Steidl recessed the meeting to open the public hearing which had been tabled on August 23, 2021 regarding the rezoning request submitted by Massman Companies, Inc. The request is to rezone two adjoining parcels, approximately 20 acres and 40 acres, from Urban Residential (UR) to Industrial (I), Commercial-Rural (C-R) or Commercial-Urban (C-U). Massman was represented by Jeff Hohn, CEO, Duane Taillefer, VP Operations, and Sandy Bell, CFO.
Public Hearing: Zoning Administrator Oleson explained the public hearing procedure.
Chairman Steidl recognized Jeff Hohn, who summarized the intent of their company and provided a visual presentation. Reference points include: becoming a strong member of the community; connection to sanitary sewer; providing an attractive outdoor environment for their employees; maintaining open space; and protecting wetlands. Expectations include: building a facility with 60 employees; creation of jobs; preserving up to 50 acres of the land; less than 200 additional cars on the road each day. They plan to comply with the township’s comprehensive plan in a 5-step approach: promote economic growth; phased orderly growth; protecting the health and safety of residents; developing buffers and maintaining property values. He expounded on building goals, economic impact, and buffer areas.
Zoning Administrator Oleson provided a visual of the township’s official zoning map. He stated that the current zoning district for the proposed site is Urban Residential (UR). He explained the uses allowed in the various zoning districts. He said the township’s comprehensive plan is a guide for the future of the township, to lay out the goals the township hopes to accomplish over the next 30 – 40 years. Normally a comprehensive plan is reviewed around every ten years or so. He acknowledged the township’s plan is due for review as it was adopted in 2006-2007.
Chairman Steidl opened the hearing to the public for comment.
Camille Norris, 3505 Maple Drive Southeast – her question is why choose to build in a residential neighborhood? Is it financially the best property?
Steve Sternhagen – 3515 Maple Drive – his family has owned their property for 44 years. Being in essence a farming community, a commercial building, with lights and parking, will take away the feeling of serenity and well-being. It won’t be quiet. It will de-value their property. He feels a residential neighborhood is not the right place for this facility and recommends the township keep it residential.
Nicole Fernholz – Economic Development Commission Executive Director, spoke in support of the project. She emphasized we don’t often have a manufacturing company seeking to move to our community and that this is a project that happens infrequently. The rezoning request is for
one building, not an industrial site. She stated she had contacted the county concerning property values. They indicated there would be no impact on the surrounding property values based upon this project. She concluded by recommending the project, saying this was an opportunity for growth for both Massman, their employees, and the community.
Tim Oldenkamp – 4004 E. Burgen Road SE – if the rezoning is granted, an industrial park in that area will happen, perhaps not in our lifetimes, but at some point in the future. Massman will expand. There will be more industry. He urged the commission to use foresight when making their recommendation.
Mike Kunstle – 2613 Lois Lane SE. Presented a revised petition with up to 193 signatures in opposition of the rezoning. Quoted from the comprehensive plan, referencing pages 15 and 19. Quoted from the staff report regarding the buffer. Asked that the township consider future repercussions. Rezoning would impact all property owners and the vision of the township in a negative way. The community wants residential growth, not industrial.
Jessie Henningsgaard – 3311 S. Lake Jessie Road. The entire property line of the 60 acres to be purchased by Massman abuts theirs on the south side. He expressed concerns as to possible flooding of his property and run-off flowing into Lake Jessie, which will, in turn, affect other area lakes. How do you stop polluting people’s wells? How large of a well will be put in? He also stated his concern as to drainage running onto his property with possible contaminants from chemicals, like paint, plus run-off from the parking lot.
Rachel Narveson – 2008 E. Lake Victoria SE – owns a residential house on Co Rd 81. She stated 81 is a heavily trafficked road with a speed limit of 35 mph. She expressed concern as to the potential increased flow of traffic as well as the excessive speed of vehicles through that area. She asked questions about their proposed growth relating to additional employees and building expansion.
Tina Brekken – 2012 E. Lake Victoria SE – she is opposed to the project. The area is zoned residential currently and feels it should stay that way. Concerned that there is a lot of farmland that could potentially be rezoned in the future. Thinks Massman can do this project in existing commercial areas. She asked if there are any specific permissions that would be needed for development of the land, such as for trailer parks, storage facilities, etc.
Jay Paulson – 4045 Rosewood Lane SE – thinks adding more jobs is great for the economy but feels it is not the right location for the Massman facility. He stated the comprehensive plan identifies that area for long-term residential. He perceives Alexandria Township as a bedroom community versus commercial/industry. Industry should be located along the Co Rd 82 and 29 corridors. His perspective is that of a builder/developer. He said the staff report states to approve the rezoning only if the township finds that the broader area/corridor along Hazel Hill Road is suitable for commercial/light industrial uses. The neighborhood wishes to remain residential and that should suffice as rationale to leave the zoning as residential.
Russell Henningsgaard – 2625 Southside Drive – the land owned by Mr. Patrick adjoins his property. He stated his property is the buffer zone. He plans to build a home in the near future where the settling pond is proposed to be. He theorized that 60% of the property to be purchased by Massman adjoins his land on the south side. He also has a 40 acre parcel kitty corner to the Patrick property that has been in the family for 98 years. He is opposed to the project if it will change the zoning of his land. He is worried about the water flow changing, especially with the sloughs on the lower area. Wants to keep it residential.
Justin Anderson – 3802 Hazel Hill Rd – owns 21 acres to the east of the proposed project. He is also a builder in the community and feels that keeping the area residential should be the township’s goal. He acknowledged Massman proposes to hook up to ALASD, which is currently at the 4-way stop. It will be expensive to run the line and does not feel the residents should be assessed. Think about the costs.
Shawn Struck – 2535 Alpine Drive – moved here 9 years ago. He wouldn’t have moved here if he knew there would be a potential for an industrial park in the area. Concerned that if Massman is allowed to build, that will pave the way for other industries as well, setting a precedent.
Duane Klimek – 2207 Maple Drive – speaking on behalf of his parents, 3109 Maple Drive, who own a lot of land in the area. If the sanitary sewer is extended, what would it cost his family? It would be too prohibitive. Why should they have to put up with the sewer? They don’t have sanitary sewer now.
Dave Hagberg – 3822 Maple Drive – even though Massman indicated semi-trailers would be pulled inside, there is the possibility they could be left running outside if the facility isn’t open, which would translate to air pollution from fumes, noise, etc. He said he is a commercial trucker by trade. These problematic issues were some of the things he and his wife were hoping to leave behind when they moved to the area. Why are you moving from Villard? Lots of chemicals and fluids will come in and out of the facility which will need to be transported by truck or something.
Nancy Runge – 3907 Maple Drive SE – they have lived in the area for 39 years. Watched it grow as a residential area. Watched their kids and grandkids grow up here. Wants to know when they did the traffic count. Traffic for the schools start at 6:30 in the morning. Picks up again at 2:15 during school days and runs till 6:30 at night. If Massman comes in, the area will have a higher traffic count. She is opposed to it. How long do the semis stay there? When do they come? Great company, but build somewhere else.
Sarah Overland – 2912 Lake Park Court SE – wants to know more about the various studies. Interested in the lake study and cited an example of a culvert situation. Traffic study from MnDOT for 2018. Any study done during COVID would show the traffic was minimal. Some traffic areas are already dangerous and that would only increase if the project were allowed to go through.
Tim Nelson – 3403 Maple Drive SE, and also 2716 and 2700 Hazel Hill Road. The company seems reputable and he hopes they feel no disrespect towards them. Bottom line is there is a buyer and a seller doing business. He feels the perception is that if the property were rezoned, it would be easier to sell. He wishes Massman would consider an existing industrial park, feeling it would be better set up for the type of business they do.
Bill Rosten – 2883 Wilderness Ridge Road SE – no dimensions for the machines was given in the presentation. The machines need to be delivered on tractor-trailers. 60 acres provides a lot of room for expansion. Expansion could translate into a 2nd and 3rd shift, which would entail vehicles and traffic 24/7. It is zoned residential to give homeowners protection, and no one wants to give it up. How much raw material comes into their plant?
Mike Schmidt – 3602 E. Burgen Rd – concerned that once the rezoning goes through, a precedent will be set and there would be no stopping the conversion to an industrial park.
Kristi Hagberg – 3822 Maple Drive SE – we have a beautiful resource of lakes. 25% of the property would be wetlands. A disconcerting thought is that in 2018 the state hydrologist, in an article, stated: we do not understand how the aquifers work. With additional growth come more parking lots and buildings, resulting in additional run-off. What will that do to the lakes? She is happy with her well water, as she had become allergic to the municipal water where they used to live. Concerned the wells could be affected and potentially lose water clarity to the lakes. Wants a copy of the material data safety sheets.
Natalie Runge – 2903 South Lake Jessie Road SE – owns the 22 acres on the south side of the Patrick property. I am a mental health professional and run my private practice out of this property. I specialize in nature-based therapy and animal assisted therapy. The nature therapy trail runs at the back end of my property adjacent to the proposed Massman property. I feel the nature and proximity of the facility would be disruptive to my practice, for my clients and the horses. I am not in support of this project.
Kathy Hodges, 3813 Hazel Hill Road SE and Pam Randall, 3801 Hazel Hill Road SE – what is the impact of taxes for residents on Hazel Hill Road? What plans are in place to co-exist with the wildlife in the area?
Tom Welle, 2726 Wilderness Ridge – strongly urge this request be denied. Concerned that future expansion would contribute to negative impacts, such as traffic, pollution, etc. Also concerned about the increased safety risk to pedestrians and additional noise.
Sue Thoennes, 3824 Maple Drive SE – I am opposed to the rezoning. The businesses in that area are small. If the request is approved, it would set a precedent to allow other industries which would create additional noise, light, odor, and environmental concerns. Keep it rural and residential. There are better locations for a business to build. All these companies belong in an industrial park.
Ruth Slaamot – 3818 Maple Drive SE – how many industrial parks is Alexandria going to allow? It seems we need to restrict where large commercial businesses are allowed in residential areas.
Dan Gates, 2905 Wilderness Ridge Road – I’m curious about the growth plan for Massman and how this property fits into their 10-year plan as opposed to the 100-year plan they discussed. Many organizations have a growth plan that includes employees as well as how the property fits in with their physical growth. With the addition of employees, traffic will increase 2-fold. If Massman were to vacate the property, the residents will have no say in what other industry would move in. Would like to see the traffic data. Great company that will provide a lot of value to our community, but they are industrial and should stay in an industrial area.
Kristin Gates, 2905 Wilderness Ridge Road SE– in opposition, not to Massman specifically, but to having that type of facility in this area. Traffic off Hazel Hill Road is bad already. How many people would be coming and going from Massman every day?
Anonymous – this facility will impact bikers, walkers, etc. Massman needs to do a traffic count throughout the day. Massman is a good business, but needs to be located in a commercial area.
Dan Krippner – 2910 Alpine Rd – our area should remain residential as we are in close proximity to schools, churches and several lake accesses.
Cory Peterson – 2676 Lois Lane – while they mentioned studies with additional commercial traffic, residential developments mean more walking paths, playgrounds, etc. which translates to slower traffic, reduced speed limits, etc. More positives with keeping it residential.
Rick Bartels, 3517 Maple Drive SE – lives close to the building site. He stated the new building could potentially be 170 feet from his house. Opposes this request.
Edward Schmidt and Bernadette Obrigewitsch, 2671 Lois Lane SE – opposed to the rezoning request due to the following potential impacts: 1) harm to wildlife, 2) quiet atmosphere; 3) increased traffic; 4) lowered property values.
Gene Berglund, 4511 S. Lake Jessie Road SE – no on the rezoning proposal. Don’t need the extra traffic on Co Rd 81 and 23. The infrastructure in that area would need to be upgraded to accommodate that business and that would add to our taxes.
Tague and Deb Thoennes, 2405 Hazel Hill Road SE – opposed to the proposed change in zoning. While we do like to see industry move into the Alexandria area, we feel that the area chosen for this project is inappropriate for the following reasons: 1) proximity to a residential neighborhood; 2) detriment to wildlife habitat; 3) increase in volume of traffic; 3) devaluation of property; 5) well water contamination; and 6) proximity to land available to purchase that is already zoned for commercial/industrial use.
Rick Bartels, Sr., 3517 Maple Drive SE – opposed to the rezoning request.
Bryon Alstead, 2403 Hazel Hill Road SE – not in favor of rezoning urban residential property to commercial or industrial property. There would be a significant increase in truck and semi traffic, citing both outgoing and incoming vehicles. An industrial site doesn’t belong in this area. Commented that a business in 2007 had contacted the township about rezoning a stretch of Hazel Hill Road to commercial but was denied, deemed not appropriate. This was from the Alexandria Township Board of Supervisors minutes from December 17, 2007.
Sara Holm, 2567 Little Sweden SE – against the rezoning request. This is a residential and agricultural area, not industrial. Don’t need the additional traffic. There are plenty of other commercial and industrial areas they can relocate to.
Kristin and Paul Krug, 3717 E. Burgen Road SE – concerned about the high increase of traffic from both employees and semi-trucks. Homeowners’ property values would be reduced.
Taylor Whiting, 2617 Burgen Lane SE – currently enjoy the residential atmosphere of a rural neighborhood. Walking and biking on Hazel Hill as well as Co Road 23 is already dangerous and would only intensify if the rezoning is approved. Concerned about property values and/or resale ability.
Don and Irene Pratt, 2325 Alpine Road – opposed to the rezoning request. Once the township rezones the area, the township board will have less say as to the type, size or kind of industry that can go into that area. The increase in truck and worker traffic will have a detrimental effect on the value of homes in the neighborhood. Do not change the current UR zoning.
Bill and Shannon Jarvi, 2445 Burgen Terrace SE – we live in an area near three lakes. It would be a huge mistake to allow industrial facilities to begin taking over our area. There are other options already zoned industrial for this company to expand. We definitely are against this proposal.
Cody Hammer, 2501 Little Sweden SE – we are strongly against this rezoning request. There are areas already zoned for industrial use. The rezoning will not improve our area. Please take the community’s feelings to heart.
Kimberly and Robert Taylor, 2820 Wilderness Ridge Road SE – we are not in favor of the rezoning request and don’t want the negative potential issues this rezoning could produce, including higher traffic counts, noise levels, other potential industrial businesses, etc.
Kelly Rieland, 2731 Southside Drive SE – we are opposed to Massman or any industrial business coming into our residential area. There are industrial areas for this.
Mike Kunstle had delivered a neighborhood petition to the township office representing over 160 signatures in opposition to the Massman rezoning request. At the public hearing, he presented a revised petition which included 190+ signatures in opposition.
Chairman Steidl closed the public comment portion of the public hearing and reconvened the meeting.
Jeff Hohn, representing Massman, proceeded to answer questions brought up during the public comment portion. Why choose this site? They and their employees would like the opportunity to enjoy the wetlands, woods, and open space like others in the community. He prefers the SE side and its proximity to their other site. His employees are already part of the traffic going through that intersection since many live in the area.
He acknowledged no barrier will make everyone happy. They plan to maintain the trees.
Their work schedule would be during the day with no second shift of meaningful size. Today there is no second shift.
Since they do have large machines, they need appropriate-sized trucks. The vast majority of trucks are timed for delivery. Semis are not at the facility overnight. The new interstate 94 access is planned to be built over the next 5 – 7 years. That’s the location they would utilize.
They would have a steel delivery once/week.
The water usage would be for bathrooms/kitchens. They have two residential wells for their current facility.
They would work to control water run-off from the parking lot.
In keeping with the data from MnDOT’s 2018 report, he feels the car/traffic counts, from a commercial side, would be less than if the property were developed for a residential site.
The size of machines can be up to 50’. Most are around 20’.
They would strive to protect the wetlands and would create a permanent easement with Ducks Unlimited – this would prevent them from developing on that part of the land.
Again, their aim is to preserve the wildlife in the area.
They would pursue putting in walking trails and making them available to the neighborhood.
The expense of extending/connecting to sanitary sewer would be borne solely by Massman.
Exposure to lights at night would be minimal. The employee parking lot will be on the back side of the property and comprised of only security lights.
In their opinion, this site is the logical place to build their facility.
Zoning Administrator Oleson advised the commissioners that the rezoning request is for one of three zoning districts, industrial (I), commercial – rural (C-R) or commercial – urban (C-U). When you rezone, it is not just for a specific use but for any use that the zoning district allows, and some of those may require a conditional use. This particular use would require a conditional use if zoned commercial – rural; if either commercial – urban or industrial, it would not. It would just be a permitted use.
Commissioner Dokken-McFann said she applauds everyone for their passion and for respecting the process. She stated the commissioners had been talking about the comprehensive plan and the future land use map when COVID hit and derailed the process. She commented that she does not approve of spot zoning, feeling it is not in the best interest of the residents or the township.
Commissioner Haar also expressed her thanks to everyone for their comments, for observing and respecting the process and to the applicant.
Chairman Steidl stated he feels this is not the best place for that type of facility. He also does not want to set a precedent for spot zoning.
Haar, seconded by Dokken-McFann, made a motion to deny the rezoning request submitted by Massman Companies based on the existing comprehensive plan and the current land use map. Roll: Haar – yes, Steinbrecher – yes, Dokken-McFann – yes, Steidl – yes. Motion carried unanimously.
Adjournment: Being no further business Haar, seconded by Steinbrecher, made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Meeting adjourned at 7:05 p.m.
Bonnie Fulghum, Deputy Clerk
Approved this ____ day of ___________, 2021
Larry Steidl, Chairman