Cloquet Planning Commission recommends zoning change for B&B projectAfter lengthy discussion, members of the Cloquet Planning Commission voted to amend a property classification because of potential future issues.
After lengthy discussion, members of the Cloquet Planning Commission voted to amend a property classification because of potential future issues.
Up for debate was a request by B&B Market owners John and Kim Lind to amend the Land Use portion of the city’s Comprehensive Plan by changing the current classification of property on the west side of B&B Market on Big Lake Road from “moderate to high residential” to “highway commercial.” The well-known business owners are considering building a banquet hall on the 1.2-acre site west of the current store.
Commissioners had several questions for Kim Lind:
What road would provide access to the banquet hall?
Spruce Street, a dead-end road that leads out to Big Lake Road.
Do the Linds have a proposed design?
Not yet. They’re seeing if it’s a possibility first.
Have the Linds done any market research?
“I get calls,” said Kim Lind, adding that she and her husband see a need for something mid-sized (smaller than the armory and bigger than the party rooms available at some of the local bars. “We were thinking we could [partition] the hall into rooms if we had a smaller group.
“Then again, we may change our minds and decide we don’t want to work that hard again,” she said. “We could put another apartment building there.”
City Planner Al Cottingham explained that the reclassification of the property in the Comprehensive Plan is the first of three steps that would need to be approved by the Cloquet City Council. Next the property would have to be formally rezoned and finally, a site plan would have to be approved.
The question of what uses are permitted in a Highway Commercial district came up more than once. Such uses include the following: large discount department stores, grocery stores/shopping centers, restaurants and retail shops, motels, car dealerships and movie theaters.
After discussion, Commissioner Jesse Berglund said he wasn’t comfortable with the Highway Commercial classification.
“We have a responsibility to look long term,” Berglund said, suggesting instead that the property be changed to “Neighborhood Commercial,” which allows for smaller businesses rather than shopping centers. “I would add the caveat to allow the business to have live entertainment as a conditional use permit [because the Neighborhood Commercial category prohibits live entertainment].”
Commissioner Uriah Wilkinson agreed with Berglund.
“It’s essentially a pretty high residential area,” he said, “even if you do acquire two adjacent properties. I think this is a way to make it work, but still take responsibility as a planning commission.”
Another possibility suggested by Cottingham was to go with the Highway Commercial classification but limit the development to a banquet hall.
Wilkinson shot that down, noting that if the Linds sold the property, the next owner would not have to abide by such restrictions.
“Unless you have a deed restriction on the property, you can’t restrict the next owner,” he said. “A McDonald’s could go in there.”
In the end, Commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the City Council deny the request to change the classification to Highway Commercial, then voted 4-1 to recommend it instead be changed to Residential Commercial. Commissioner Julie Kainu voted against the second resolution, stating that she didn’t see much of a difference in the types of businesses allowed in the two districts. Commissioners Berglund, Wilkinson, Kelly Johnson and John Sanders voted in favor. Commissioners Chuck Buscher and Michael Haubner were absent.
Also with the same 4-1 vote, commissioners moved to change the city code to allow live entertainment as a conditional use permit in a Neighborhood Commercial district.
“Having it as a conditional use permit will allow residents in the area to have a say,” Berglund said.
The Cloquet City Council and Mayor Bruce Ahlgren will likely consider the request at their 7 p.m. March 19 meeting at Cloquet City Hall.