The Crystal Planning Commission met for the second time this year tonight. We didn’t have anything on the agenda for February, March, April or May, which was kind of a bummer. But we made up for it with a jam-packed agenda tonight.
I had the pleasure of voting to approve conditional use permits or variances for:
- Milton’s, which will now be allowed to be open until midnight instead of 10PM on weeknights (and 1AM on New Year’s Eve)
- MD Liquor’s, which will now allowed to be open until 10PM instead of 9PM
- And St. Raphael’s Church, which will be getting a new monument sign along Bass Lake Road
All three actions require city council approval, but I don’t foresee any issues, as all were passed unanimously by the commission and without any public testimony.
The last item of the evening was to consider a series of actions related to the city’s new public works facility. I have stated in the past that I agree that we are in need of a new facility, but I have serious concerns with both the process used to gain approval for the facility, and the overall cost of the building and land. In my view the project is too expensive, and city staff has been a bit overzealous in how they went about pushing this project through the council.
At issue tonight were a package of variances, conditional use permits, and easement vacations related to the project. I spoke in opposition to the action we were being asked to take. By the time these items were presented to the planning commission, the city had already spent several million dollars on this project, and in fact has begun demolition. In my opinion the commission was being asked to rubber stamp the city’s actions. There was no way that the city would derail this project at this stage, regardless of any objections that may have been raised by the commission.
I was not appointed to the commission to be a rubber stamp, so I voted against the package. I was joined by Commissioner Andrew Richter in voting no. The measure passed 7-2.
Several citizens and local business owners were in attendance to present concerns related to this project. I was glad to see the city staff and the project architect mostly responsive to citizen concerns, and I hope these considerations make their way into the final plans.