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Olive Garden becomes closer to reality; shooting range approved too

Exterior sketch of Baxter Olive Garden.1 / 2
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BAXTER — An Olive Garden in Baxter is coming closer to reality.

The Baxter City Council Tuesday approved a conditional use permit for a planned unit development for the Central Lakes Crossing development plan that entails turning two vacant lots just east of J.C. Penney into a 7,600-square foot Olive Garden restaurant and a 13,200-square foot future retail building.

Community Development Director Bill Deblon said the Olive Garden is compliant with all the city building codes and has followed city ordinance. The only change to the plan since the city council approved the sketch plans earlier this month is the restaurant changed its setback from 35-feet to 30-feet at the entrance of the building. Deblon said this change is still compliant with the city’s building setback requirements.

The number of parking spaces is compliant with the city’s requirements, in fact Deblon said there is a surplus of nine spaces. Council member Jim Klein was concerned that Olive Garden did not have enough spaces, noting the popularity of the restaurant.

The council also approved the minor subdivision plat of Central Lakes Crossing Third Addition and the CUP to allow for drive-through windows for the third addition, for the future retail center.

Klein said he’s still bothered by the fact that the city does not know what the retail center will host. Council member Mark Cross said developers have to submit their plans in advance. He said the building will have to be used for retail, as that is what the council approved. Cross said if the developers decide to make a change with their plans, they’d have to come back to the council to amend their permit.

The council also approved a CUP amending the existing plat of Kohls PUD to allow the Mills Shooting Range, that would be located at the site of the former Paul Bunyan Bowl.

Deblon said the council already approved the PUD, but this motion allows for an indoor shooting range and archery center. Deblon said the council agreed that the shooting range would be constructed so noise, air pollution and nay hazardous waste would be properly mitigated.

Klein asked about the noise from the gunshots. Deblon said the noise would be mitigated. Deblon said the gunshots would be hard to hear, but several factors plan into the noise, such as temperatures and wind.

“This will be a state-of-the-arts facility,” said Deblon. “Maximum safety has been considered.”

Cross said that the facility would be air tight and if someone did not follow proper protocol that a noise, sounding like a car door shutting, could be heard.

Council member Todd Holman was concerned that the planning commission recommended that no over story tree, or shade tree, be planted in the parking lot island closest to the building, as there were shrubs already planted. Holman said that it was against the city ordinance. The council agreed and voted to have one over story tree be planted in the parking lot island.

In other city business, the council held a public hearing for the proposed assessment for the Hasting Road improvements. The city has been in the process of constructing a water tower, along Hasting Road, which requires removal and reconstruction of the existing roadway.

No one at the meeting spoke in favor or against the assessments. The council voted 4-1, with Klein voting in opposition.

Approved a CUP to allow an outside display and storage at the proposed Brock White location at 3855 Independence Road, the former Stock Lumber property.

Approved agreement maintaining an investigator position with the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force.

Voted 4-1, with Klein in opposition of approving WSN’s proposal for engineering services for the 2012 Lift Station No. 4 and No. 5.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851.