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City planning commissioners pave way for Wal-Mart project: City promises to put road projects on fast track to alleviate traffic congestion in area (10/15/2003)
By Amanda Romaine
The city of Winona Planning Commission at the October 13 meeting found the final plat for Menard, Inc. in the Riverbend Retail Park (formerly Riverbend Industrial Park) in "substantial compliance" with the approved preliminary plat.

The approval of the plat allows Menard, Inc. to execute the selling of the land as platted.

Marv Prochaska, Vice President of Real Estate for Menards, stated during the public hearing that Menards has a purchase agreement with Wal-Mart.

In addition to finding the plat to be in compliance with the approved preliminary plat, the commission requested that any site plans for the development be reviewed by them.

Review of the site plan would allow the commission to oversee the design and address environmental concerns as presented by Joe Morse, member of Winona Bluffland Environmental Watch during the public hearing.

He spoke about the construction of the parking lots in a way that would prevent run off directly into the river.

Other citizens who spoke at the public hearing asked the city to take its time in making such a big decision about all future development in the Riverbend Retail Park.

City Planner Mark Moeller addressed the commission's main concern over the traffic plan for the area. The concern about traffic congestion in the area led the commission to deny the plat at a September 8 meeting.

Following that denial by the commission, city officials met with the Minnesota Department of Transportation about the possibility of speeding up construction to within two years, rather than the 10 to 15 previously cited.

Four road construction projects are planned to be moved up, according to city officials. The construction time line of links between Bruski Drive/Frontenac Drive and Mankato Avenue/Menard Road has been moved forward to one to two years. The Louisa Street extension to Highway 61 was moved forward two to four years instead of the previous seven to ten years. The reconstruction of the Sarnia Street/Mankato Avenue intersection with a new access road into Riverbend was moved forward to 10-15 years instead of 10-20 years. The improvements to Louisa Street (north of Frontenac Drive) were delayed to 10 to 20 years away instead of 10 to 15 years.

Citizens at the public hearing questioned who would pay for the improvements. Sondra Morgan, rural Winona, asked that question and indicated the possibility that the half cent sales tax that city officials plan to approach the city council with may not pass.

Commissioner Arlene Prosen asked Erik Miller, engineer with McCombs Frank Roos Associates, Inc., who designed the Menard plat and represent Wal-Mart, how long it would be until Wal-Mart would be constructed after the plat approval.

Miller indicated that there are still many things that have to be put in order but that the construction could begin and end within ten months to one year.

"Optimistically we're looking at an '04 completion," said Miller. "We would hope it'd be done concurrently with the road improvements."

The approved final plat will go before the City Council on Monday, November 3 at the regular meeting. Moeller said final approval at the city council level doesn't require a public hearing but one will be held on November 3 at the council meeting. 

 

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