Park Rapids Council approves ALDI's conditional use permit
The grocery store chain plans to break ground this spring on a 20,664-square foot location.
The Park Rapids City Council approved a conditional use permit (CUP) Tuesday for ALDI to build a 20,664-square foot grocery store at 1310 1st St. E.
City Planner Ben Oleson reported the city’s planning commission on Jan. 12 recommended council approval for the CUP with nine conditions.
However, Civil Engineer Ryan Anderson with ISG, the applicant on behalf of ALDI, said they first looked at building a store in Park Rapids a couple years ago, but it was “put on pause on our end” at that time. Late last year, they revisited the idea, and the project has moved forward since then.
“We are excited to be in this community, and excited to break ground once the snow melts,” he said.
He added that ALDI proposed to build a 6-foot privacy fence along the property line to prevent visibility, trash and foot traffic from intruding on neighbors’ property. He said they perceived this appeased neighborhood concerns raised at the planning meeting.
However, Anderson asked the council to strike two conditions from the CUP, which would have restricted the hours for the store to operate and to receive deliveries to between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Asked why the applicant objected to these conditions, Anderson said the conditions aren’t unreasonable, and they actually conform to ALDI’s current operating hours of 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., with delivery trucks “typically” arriving during that same time range.
However, he said ALDI prefers its hours not to be restricted. He noted their distribution hub is in Faribault, which is far enough away to raise the possibility of unforeseen delays. Hinting that ALDI is buying, not leasing, the property and plans to invest in the community for 30 years or longer, he said, “they just don’t want to be hampered with a site or conditions that could impact the way they run their business in the future.”
Council member Joe Christensen asked whether ALDI typically has late-night deliveries; Anderson said no. Christensen also asked whether drivers could deliver without store employees present, to which Anderson said not usually, but ALDI would like the flexibility.
Council members discussed the difficulty of ensuring the Faribault-to-Park Rapids delivery route doesn’t fall behind schedule.
Council member Liz Stone questioned whether the city holds Hugo’s and Coborns to similar restrictions.
Ultimately, Stone made a motion to approve the CUP, omitting the two conditions. The motion passed unanimously.
Workforce housing tax abatement
The council consented to the process of creating a workforce housing tax abatement program in support of a proposed 58-unit apartment project on land currently owned by the Hubbard County Housing and Redevelopment Authority. The resolution estimates that the abatement will generate a value of approximately $298,243 over a 15-year period with a 1% annual increase to the project’s assessed value.
Bylaw and policy changes
The council also approved an amendment to the planning commission’s bylaws, recommended by the commission at its Jan. 12 meeting.
According to Oleson, the changes included:
- the date of the commission’s monthly meetings – changing to the second Monday of each month.
- membership on the commission – now requiring at least three of the five members to be city residents, with the remaining seats open to residents or the non-resident owner of a business in the city.
- changing the title of the staff member serving as secretary to the commission to the planning administrative assistant of the city planner.
After some discussion about the membership requirement, Stone made a motion to approve the bylaw change with the additional requirement that non-resident members reside in Hubbard County or an adjacent county.
The council also debated a proposed policy for posting openings on city commissions, committees and boards.
Some of the discussion involved where, and for how long, openings should be posted on the city’s website, with City Administrator Angel Weasner advising council members that the website is currently being upgraded to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Weasner summarized the changes, saying there is “a lot of ease coming” to users of the site.
Stone made the motion to approve the policy, striking language allowing applicants to be interviewed electronically. Mayor Ryan Leckner noted that if a situation like COVID-19 arises, the council can loosen the requirement for in-person interviews.
In consent items and general business, the council:
- Awarded a $900 tree bid for the city’s nursery stock to Flying W Gardens.
- Paid Baycom, Inc. $8,686 to replace five heavy-duty police squad computers.
- Paid Northland Securities, Inc. $2,150 for the annual Securities and Exchange Commission annual continuing disclosure filing and to reimburse county auditor’s certificate fees for 2021.
- Paid Widseth, Smith, and Nolting $6,925 for rental inspection fees in 2021 ($1,455) and 2022 ($5,470).
- Acknowledged donations to the city between Jan. 10-17, totaling $60.
- Approved payables totaling $38,840 and prepaids totaling $132,392.
The city council’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14 at city hall.