Future Greenfield auto shop approved amid traffic concerns

The future site of West Hennepin Auto (outlined in red) has been approved to get a temporary access entrance onto Dogwood Street/County Road 92. The Holiday Gas Station on the opposite side of Dogwood also has an access, but Hennepin County and the Greenfield City Council plan to extend 69th Ave N in the future to provide permanent entrances to both businesses.

The Greenfield City Council met to discuss the future of a northern parcel on County Road 92 (Dogwood St) and 69th Ave.

This spot, near Tractor Supply Co., was introduced to the council for the building of an auto repair and tire shop.

The council had no issue with the incoming business. Councilor Tom Cook expressed his thanks on behalf of the council to Tim and Scott Pivek, who will be the owners of the shop, West Hennepin Auto. The family also operates a West Hennepin Auto in Loretto.

Most concerning to the council was the request of a temporary access road connecting the future auto site to County Rd 92. The access would make an entrance to the businesses like Tractor Supply and the future West Hennepin Auto more convenient for those coming from the east side near the Holiday gas station and Subway. The existing entrances to the west and north would remain open.

The access was requested December 2016, but the Planning Commission had strongly recommended denying it due to safety and traffic concerns.

Greenfield councilors had discussed the issue heavily, eventually directing staff to seek a safe and workable traffic solution with the property owner and Hennepin County. This direction by Greenfield council passed by a close 3-2 vote.

Since then, Hennepin County Transportation and their communication with MnDOT have found that the temporary access may go forward with conditions. Conditions include the entrance on 69th Ave to be designed as the primary entrance, and developer responsibility for construction costs of all related improvements.

Above all, the main stipulation is that the temporary access eventually closes as development of the area fills out.

Hennepin County could restrict access to “right in, right out” at any time should traffic conditions or volumes warrant it as the access is on a county road (their jurisdiction).

COUNTY RESPONSIBILITY

While Hennepin County is ultimately responsible for approving the access, they required approval from the City of Greenfield as a condition.

Bob Beyers, a representative from Hennepin County Public Works didn’t foresee traffic dangers should the access be granted. “It happens all the time with people running off the road. I hate to list all the things that we see in the crashes that have nothing to do with the access itself.”

Beyers also looked to a more permanent solution. “When 69th [Ave] is extended,” Beyers said, “it will be done so that it can serve the Holiday and then their [temporary] entrance will go away as well.”

Jerry Hertaus, the owner of the current property through his company Omega, also saw positives. “We have no intention of making this a permanent access,” said Hertaus. “In fact, I believe that if it’s necessary to close the driveway it’s an absolutely positive sign that Greenfield is growing, and we have a lot of traffic in the area and it needs to be done.”

Councilors Mike Erickson and Mike Hoekstra were wary that the resolution did not more concretely state how long the temporary access can exist, but others thought relying on Hennepin County was enough.

“I think we have the support of the county on this,” said councilor Cook. “Part of our job here is to facilitate business coming to this city. We don’t need to put additional controls on something that is already being adequately controlled by the experts.”

Mayor Brad Johnson echoed: “All the parties that were involved with this– Hennepin County and MnDot, they all are giving it their blessing so I’m thankful for that and I’m excited to see this project move forward,”

Councilor Holten made the motion to approve the access with no amendments. The motion passed 4-1 with councilor Erickson the dissenting vote.

All council members approved the Conditional Use Permit needed to go forward with West Hennepin Auto.

OTHER

In other news, the council:

APPROVED the preliminary and final plat for Schoening Third Addition subdivision in a 4-1 vote. Mike Erickson gave the dissenting vote.

APPROVED an updated Predatory Offender Residency Ordinance. The previous draft had not included protections for nonpublic school students.

APPROVED the Central Park pond and pollinator planting project. The park will include planting near the entry sign and seeding south of the parking lot. Seven new evergreens will be replaced and an interpretive sign will be created to explain the importance of native plantings. The estimated cost minus the sign will come to $28,032. A grant will cover $25,000 of the cost and the rest will be paid for with park dedication fees.