St. Theodore to rework expansion plans

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 24, 1999

The City Council didn’t force St.

Tuesday, August 24, 1999

The City Council didn’t force St. Theodore Catholic Church to resubmit plans to expand a parking lot and add a playground to its grounds.

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That move was somewhat expected because state law requires cities to take action within 60 days of a planning commissions’ recommendation of a conditional use permit.

Citing safety concerns, the planning commission voted unanimously to not recommend the church’s request for a conditional use permit for its plans, including the addition of 62 parking stalls.

&uot;I understand by state law if there’s no action within 60 days this goes into affect unless we have a waiver from St. Theodore,&uot; said Albert Lea Mayor Marv Wangen

But by recently waiving the 60-day requirement, the church allowed the council to take no action. Church officials now have time to adjust current plans to eliminate any safety problems, said Councilor Ron Sorenson.

&uot;I would move that we accept the waiver,&uot; Sorenson said. &uot;That will allow them additional time to work on it.&uot;

Sorenson’s motion was seconded by Councilor Mary Kron and passed with a unanimous vote.

If the the law wasn’t waived, the council almost certainly would have rejected the permit, said City Manager Paul Sparks. St. Theodore’s would then have to submit new plans if wanted to continue with the expansion.

Sorenson and other councilors have maintained that current plans are unsafe because of heavy traffic in the area.

He said an entrance into the parking lot from Clark Street is unsafe because of an incline leading from Bridge Avenue to Clark Street; Bridge Avenue drivers can’t see cars turning left into the parking lot from Fountain Street.

While a planned median island was included to block traffic from turning left out of the parking lot onto Clark Street, Sorenson said it wouldn’t prevent it completely. The same is true of traffic turning left into the parking lot from Clark.

The island would also not prevent drivers from using the parking lot as a bypass between Fountain and Clark streets. The bypass saves time, but is extremely dangerous, he said.

The safety problems are worse because city plans also call for the widening of Bridge Avenue, increasing traffic flow.

The addition of a nearby strip mall will also increase traffic at the Bridge, Fountain and Clark intersection.

Also, the location of a private elementary school is a safety issue, Sorenson has said.