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Baxter OKs sketch plans for Olive Garden, shooting range

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BAXTER — Sketch plans for two new business developments were approved Tuesday at the Baxter City Council’s first meeting of 2012. Receiving unanimous approval were sketch plans for planned unit developments for the Plat of Kohl’s Addition, which will convert the former Paul Bunyan Bowl into a shooting range for archery and guns and for Central Lakes Crossing, which will include an Olive Garden restaurant.

The Central Lakes Crossing plan would re-plat the vacant lot east of J.C. Penney into two lots for the construction of a 7,600-square foot Olive Garden and a 13,200 square foot future retail building.

Although Baxter staff members said there was adequate parking available council member Jim Klein expressed concern noting that if the restaurant proved to be as popular as many people think, “that parking lot is going to be overflowed all the time.” Community Development Director Bill Deblon said Baxter’s required number of parking spots was being met. A representative of the development said an agreement exists between J.C. Penney and the restaurant regarding parking.

Council member Todd Holman said it was in the city’s interest to consider sidewalk connectivity as these developments occur.

“The examples of what not to do are kind of in our history,” he said.

The proposed development will be located at the northwest corner of Highway 371 and Glory Road Drive. The breakdown for Olive Garden includes 45 bar seats which require a higher ratio of parking in the ordinance than is required for restaurant seats.

The Plat of Kohl’s Addition is for Mills Shooting Range, which will be located at the former Paul Bunyan Bowl building and property. The proposal is to convert the former Paul Bunyan Bowl building to a shooting range for archery and guns and expand the building on the west side by adding a 15,000 square foot addition. This would require an amendment to the planned unit development approved in 2003, a conditional use for a shooting range and variances to existing parking lot setbacks.

The shooting and archery center, according to the project narrative, would supplement the existing nearby Mills Fleet Farm store and would be run by trained instructors. It would include a 50-yard firearms shooting and tactical training range, a 40-yard archery range, a large classroom, a small training room and a merchandising area.

Council member Mark Cross, in a response to Klein’s question about potential noise, said technology exists for a bullet-resistant and noise-resistant environment. Deblon said it’s expected to be a first-class facility.

Klein raised no further objections “as long as it ain’t just a couple of sand bags down in the basement.”

Another sketch plan — this time for an existing business — was approved for Quality Enterprises, a Minnesota state operated community services day training and habilitation service for disabled adults. Quality Enterprises is located at 8053-8055 Industrial Park Road. The current proposal is to expand the back building at the three-acre site.

During the period for the mayor’s comments, Mayor Darrel Olson invited Thor and Kerri Wicklund to express their hopes to obtaining conditional use permit for a renter who was interested in locating a used car lot without going through the entire process a second time. Earlier they had gone through the process for a different tenant who only wanted to display off-road vehicles.

The Wicklunds’ property is along Highway 371, across from Book World. The address is 7313 Novotny Road.

After a lengthy discussion staff members were directed to see whether a seven-day or a 14-day notification was necessary if another hearing was conducted.

MIKE O’ROURKE may be reached at 855-5860 or

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860