Xcel Energy will continue to use a former Monticello car dealership to meet office space and employee training needs.
Monticello council members unanimously agreed Monday to approve the utility company’s rezoning request for the Denny Hecker Monticello Dodge building.
Xcel had been using the 40,000 square-foot building at 3801 Chelsea Road under a temporary permit which had expired in 2012. The company wants to use the property for office space, conference rooms, training space and a computer lab.
Principal Stephen Grittman with Northwest Associated Consultants, representing the city, stated in a memo that the zoning was supported by the city’s comprehensive plan and met ordinance criteria for such applications. The property has more than 400 parking spaces. The zoning ordinance would require about 160 spaces to support the existing building and its planned use.
All other site improvements, including the parking area, will remain in place as part of Xcel’s permanent site occupancy. The Monticello Planning Commission reviewed the request during a Feb. 5 public hearing.
No public testimony, other than Xcel representatives, was given during the hearing, city staff reported. The rezoning was pulled from the Feb. 11 consent agenda. Lynn Patzner, an Xcel Energy real estate services financial analyst, represented the company.
Councilmember Brian Stumpf was concerned about traffic backups when Xcel employees exited en masse at the end of the day. “The problem I have is with the stop light [timing] on Chelsea Road and Highway 25,” Stumpf said, adding that left-turning traffic is often limited to four cars before the light changes.
“The traffic backs up to Marvin Road,” he said. “Can we work with MnDOT (Minnesota Department of Transportation) to reconfigure the lights?” City Engineer Bruce Westby said it would be possible for the city to consult with MnDOT regarding the signal light timing.
Also during discussion, Councilmember Tom Perrault asked Angela Schumann, community development director, why Xcel Energy’s zoning request wasn’t given industrial business campus district (IBC) consideration. City zoning allows for the establishments of such districts, which can include limited light industrial business offices, limited light manufacturing as well as wholesale showrooms.
“The applicant requested the regional district zoning,” Schumann said, adding that the city’s comprehensive plan identifies the area with a “places to shop” commercial designation that specifically includes non-retail uses such as office space. Xcel’s proposed use was consistent with that designation, she said.
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