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BAXTER CITY COUNCIL: Some traffic concerns raised about Costco plan

BAXTER — The Baxter City Council  got its first look Tuesday at the proposed Costco development sketch plan. 

The main concern among council members and others present at Tuesday’s council meeting was traffic in, out and around the 24-acre parcel at the southwest corner of Highways 210 and 371. 

Resident John Sullivan said it was important for the city to protect Elder Drive, which would serve the property on its west side. 

“My concern is the layout ... in regard to street design and what traffic patterns are going to be,” Sullivan said. 

Council member Todd Holman offered an in-depth look at the traffic concerns. Holman noted the need for safe pedestrian crossing to the development. At Foley Road, which acts as a frontage road along Highway 210, he said a roundabout at the intersection would be at Elder Drive and Foley Road and would protect pedestrians and other non-motorized travelers as well solve an issue with the development’s offset north entrance. 

Holman also suggested an interior private drive to access the sites within the development could be put around the exterior and be a city street that would connect with roads to the south. He also said the city should consider allowing off site signage to funnel traffic onto Glory Road to Elder Drive, and onto Foley Road from the west. That would keep congestion away from the Highways 210 and 371 intersection, he said. 

Council member Mark Cross said a condition would be that all sites within the development be accessed from the interior.

Community Development Director Bill Deblon said the sketch plan was just the first required step in a lengthy process for final approval of the Costco development. City Administrator Gordon Heitke said a traffic study would be done at the developer’s expense. 

“They’ve been duly warned this is going to be a major issue,” Heitke said. 

Mayor Darrel Olson said the council wanted to make sure to configure traffic in the right way because the city would have to live with the final design “for a life time.”

Along with the 147,358 square-foot Costco warehouse, the site is proposed to include a tire center, liquor store and free standing gas pumps. 

The council unanimously directed its comments to the various commissions that will be reviewing the proposed Costco development. 

In other action, the council:

Approved flying the flag at city hall at half staff on Thursday in honor of Don Sande, a former Baxter mayor who died July 29. Sande’s funeral will be Thursday. 

Congratulated the Baxter team that took second place in the 12-year-old Cal Ripken Midwest Plains Regional tournament in Baxter. More importantly, Olson said,  the Baxter team received the sportsmanship award. Sullivan also noted the girls’ slow pitch softball team came in second in a state tournament. 

Congratulated Kris Nelson for being named national president of the American Legion Auxiliary. 

Recessed Tuesday’s meeting to 7:30 a.m. Thursday to receive a Utilities Commission recommendation on plans and specifications for the Cypress Drive extension across Highway 210 and to order in the improvement and request bids on the project. Heitke said the council needed to come together as quickly as possible Thursday morning in order to keep the project on its time line. 

Approved a $26,156 quote from AAA Striping Company for city street striping. 

Approved by a 4-1 vote joining the Minnesota Cities Stormwater Coalition. Council member Jim Klein opposed because he felt the fee, though nominal, could be used elsewhere in 2011. He suggested budgeting for the coalition in 2012. 

Accepted the 20-year street maintenance plan and placed bituminous overlays as a top priority for the city. 

Approved a special event permit for Mills properties to host the BL Broadcasting Outdoors Expo Sept. 9-10 at a site between Mills Ford and The Bodyworks. 

MATT ERICKSON may be reached at or 855-5857.