by Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter
The Rogers City Council discussed a recent explosion near a Rogers apartment complex and tabled a decision on a planned 192-unit apartment development.
On the morning of Jan. 5, a propane-powered back-up power system exploded. The system served The Preserve at Commerce, a 192-unit apartment complex at 13600 Commerce Blvd. No injuries were reported and the building suffered only minor cosmetic damage.
Brian Erickson, who lives behind the apartment complex on Bluebill Avenue, is concerned about a repeat incident in better weather.
“A lot of kids play by that generator. If it had been warmer, there would’ve been kids playing there, people walking their dogs,” he said.
Rogers Police Chief Jeff Beahen told Erickson that, according to a report conducted by the Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety in the wake of the incident, the problem wasn’t with the unit, itself, but with a lack of maintenance.
“It should’ve been started up every six weeks. It actually hadn’t been started in five years,” Beahen explained.
He went on to assure Erickson that these types of generators were in place all over the city, including at most business, and were very effective.
City Administrator Steve Stahmer said that the City would be working with the apartment owners throughout the process of building a new back-up power system to ensure that it was done properly.
In other matters, the Council reviewed a plan to build 192 apartment units in 14 new buildings. The townhome style apartments will range from 1000 to 1200 square feet, will have two to three bedrooms, and single stall garages. The proposed site is located along County Rd. 81, west of Marion Court and north of the railroad tracks.
The developer is proposing that the buildings will be sold to different owners but that one association would be responsible for maintaining the entire development.
Currently, the land is zoned for medium density, but the new development would fall under high density. So before construction plans can even begin, the Council needed to approve the zoning change.
The Council wasn’t against the project, but had a number of concerns.
“Where are the kids going to play?” Council member Maureen Stanley asked.
The developer assured her that they would build a playground.
Council member Darren Jakel was concerned with the amount of parking. Currently, the plan provides for one garage stall and one parking lot space per unit. They also heard that upon reviewing the project, the Planning Commission had recommended that better materials be used to improve the aesthetics of the buildings.
Shortly before the meeting, they’d received a new option from the developer that called for 216 units in 24 buildings instead. The Council agreed that they hadn’t had sufficient time to review it.
Though most of the decisions for the development will come before the Council at future meetings, they decided to table their decision on rezoning the property until their next meeting so the developer would have time to address some of their concerns.
The Council did grant approvals for the new Veterans Memorial that is under construction at Triangle Park. They accepted final plans and authorized the solicitation of bids to construct most of the monument.
“A lot of people in this city are excited about this,” said Council member Rick Ihli.
He said that through grants and fundraising efforts, they have raised over $100,000 for the project. The total cost is expected to be $150,000. More fundraising efforts are underway to cover the remaining costs.
The memorial will consist of three granite monuments listing Rogers residents who have served in major conflicts since the Civil War, as well as a flag pole, benches, and landscaping.