Planning Commission Recap: Scooter’s Coffee, King Milling

With barely a quorum present, the Lowell Planning Commission met for approximately 40 minutes on Monday night to discuss plans for two businesses. Commissioners Tony Ellis, Michael Gadula and David Cadwallader were absent, leaving four members in attendance.

Public Hearing for Scooter’s Coffee

First up was a public hearing for Scooter’s Coffee. The business is hoping to turn a vacant lot on W. Main Street into a drive-thru coffee restaurant. Last month, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended that Lowell City Council rezone the parcel at 2531 W. Main Street from industrial (I) to general business (C-3). Drive-thru facilities are only allowed in the C-3 district.

While Lowell City Council has yet to vote on the rezoning request – it will apparently be considered at next week’s council meeting – Scooter’s was back before the Planning Commission on Monday night for a special land use permit and site plan review.

Krisandra Lippert, a development project manager from Minnesota, attended the meeting on behalf of Scooter’s Coffee. She presented the commission with a new plan that would elongate the drive through space and accommodate up to 18 cars. She said that should be more than enough to keep traffic moving smoothly through the site.

“Even in our biggest cities, we don’t stack them that much because we move them so quickly,” Lippert said. She mentioned that the company has a speed of service that is less than three minutes which means cars typically don’t spend long in line.

Commissioner Amanda Schrauben asked about a curb cut for the business. Apparently, the property has previously been accessed through a drive on neighboring property owned by D&D Trucking. Lippert said it did not seem likely that MDOT would allow another curb cut in so short a space along M-21, and Scooter’s was discussing a cross access drive and easement with D&D Trucking.

Once the public hearing on the special land use permit was opened, Chair Bruce Barker asked the owner of D&D Trucking, Dean Lonick, about the status of an agreement to allow access to the site using the existing drive.

“It would not be accurate to say it’s a sure thing,” Lonick replied.

At that point, Barker suggested the review of the special land use permit be postponed until an agreement was made between the two companies. “My thought patten is why take 45 minutes to an hour to discuss the whole plan,” he said, adding later: “I just don’t see us wasting that amount of time on it.”

Commissioner Marty Chambers disagreed and said he would prefer to review the application and make a decision contingent on an agreement being reached between Scooter’s and D&D Trucking. “Time is of the essence for construction,” he said.

Chambers also asked Lippert if the company had spoken to Mercantile Bank about access through its curb cut, but Lippert said that wasn’t possible because their drive was “right in and right out.”

Barker again indicated his intention to postpone the issue until next month. Andy Moore, a planning consultant to the city, jumped in to say that there were three issues outstanding on the application:

  • Rezoning the property to C-3
  • Access to the site via a curb cut or easement from D&D Trucking
  • Stormwater permit from MDOT to allow runoff to flow onto M-21

The Planning Commission then voted unanimously to table the application until July.

Site Plan Approved for King Milling

The second agenda item was a site plan review for King Milling to add a new mill with wheat storage and a truck loadout facility to its property.

“We’re experiencing growth once again,” said Jim Doyle, senior vice president for King Milling. “It’s a good problem to have.”

Moore noted that King Milling was requesting a variance for a setback requirement along S. Broadway Street. The ordinance requires a 50-foot setback, but the plans call for a 7-foot setback. The variance will be considered by Lowell councilmembers when they convene as the Zoning Board of Appeal next Monday.

Otherwise, Moore did not note any concerns with the application and said the land that will house the addition is surrounded by other King Milling buildings and property.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the site plan on the condition that the setback variance is approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The meeting adjourned at approximately 7:41pm, and the next regular meeting of the Lowell Planning Commission will be on Monday, July 11, at 7pm in Lowell City Hall.

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