Minutes - October 3, 2011
Sunday, October 09, 2011 9:50 AM

 

Land Use Committee

October 3, 2011

Street Car Station

 

Members Present: Chris Harkness, Linda Hinderscheit, Bill Sylvester, and Kim Moon, Chair

 

Others Present: John Kohler (Semper Development), Ed Terhaar (Wenck Associates), Mike Maglich, Terry Maglich and Paul Setter (MGM), Lee Helgen (City Council member), District 10 Council board members (Jon Knox, Chair, Panod Klongtruatroke, Vice chair, Pete Bolstad) and approximately 20 members of the community.

 

Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m.

Approval of Minutes:
  The minutes of the 8-29-2011 meeting were approved.

MGM/Walgreens Development:

 

Traffic Study:

Ed Terhaar, of Wenck Associates, presented the draft traffic study that was recently completed in the area surrounding Lexington-Larpenteur. Larpenteur is designated by Ramsey County as a major east-west roadway.  Lexington, south of Larpenteur, is a parkway. Wenck Associates followed the requirements of the City of St. Paul and Ramsey County when conducting the study. The City and County requested data for the following intersections: Dunlap-Larpenteur, California-Lexington, Lexington-Larpenteur, and Hoyt-Lexington. Data were collected on a typical weekday (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) at peak times: 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

 

A traffic study uses actual data from the site, as well as a national database, which is used to forecast future traffic loads based on type of business. The database for pharmacies with a drive through predicted an increase in traffic trips in and out of the site compared to actual current data for MGM Liquor Store and office. See chart below for the projected increase in trips when comparing future to present usage:

 

 

Increase in net trips IN

Increase in net trips OUT

Morning peak time

+14

+16

Afternoon peak time

+21

+30

 

This increase is of concern to the neighborhood, but is small compared to the total number of cars that travel through the Lexington-Larpenteur intersection on any given day.

Traffic studies also categorize intersections as levels A through F, based on traffic slow and access.  Level A is the best.  Level F is the worst (gridlock, for example).  An acceptable level for an urban area is Level D. Mr. Terhaar presented current and projected levels for the intersections in question.  Levels are summarized briefly below. (The completed traffic study with complete data on levels will be given to us at a later date.) No levels changed significantly from current to projected levels, although selected current levels are below what is considered acceptable.

 

Intersection

Peak morning traffic level

Peak afternoon level

Dunlap-Lexington

A, C

A, B, C

Lexington-Larpenteur

A, B, C, D (D going N and E)

B, C, D, E (long queues of cars on Lex s of Larp)

Lexington-California

A, B

A, B

Lexington-Hoyt

A, B

A, C

Alley (MGM-Lexington)

A, B

A, C

 

Mr. Terhaar suggested that widening Lexington 75-80 feet south of the intersection with Larpenteur may reduce the stacking that occurs at peak traffic hours. Lexington is designated as a parkway, so this would need to be done carefully with consideration to state law regarding parkland.

 

Traffic Calming/Pedestrian Safety:

Community members asked about possible traffic calming measures in the neighborhood.  It is the concern of community members in the neighborhood that commuters will continue to use neighborhood residential streets to avoid the stacking of traffic at the Lexington-Larpenteur intersection.  In addition, traffic on California Avenue, west of Lexington, may increase as Walgreens’ customers use California when they are attempting to exit on Lexington and are unable to turn left (north). They are likely to turn right onto Lexington, right onto California, and go around the block.  Possible solutions were discussed and a straw poll was taken to gauge community attitudes toward them.  See chart below:

 

 

Yes

No

Curb bump-outs

13

0

Speed bumps

2

8

One way on California Ave. going west to east (block west of Lexington)

6

0

One way on California Ave. going east to west (block east of Lexington)

1

No data—Some residents expressed the opinion that it would not help reduce traffic much as motorists travel both ways on this block as they attempt to avoid the Lexington-Larpenteur intersection

 

Community members also expressed concern about pedestrian safety in the Lexington-Larpenteur intersection. Motorists become impatient as they have spent a lot of time waiting as traffic stacks. The times allowed for pedestrians to cross on the walk signal are very short. The crosswalks are very poorly marked. The City of St. Paul requires pedestrian-friendly entrances for new developments. The Walgreens’ site plan reflects that. But the traffic control for the intersection itself is more focused on traffic control, and it is not necessarily safe for pedestrians at this point.

 

A suggestion was made that signs be placed at the intersections of cross streets and Lexington between Hoyt and Larpenteur. These signs would point out that it is illegal for motorists to block intersections.  A straw poll of those in attendance indicated that 13 were in favor of this and no one was opposed.

 

The information above regarding the neighborhood’s traffic concerns and suggestions for improvement will be included in the final draft of the traffic study.

Deliveries:

The delivery truck will enter off Lexington and exit on Larpenteur. There was some discussion of whether or not the City will allow a truck to use Lexington, as it is a parkway and not a truck route. It will back up parallel to the store through the drive through. The drive through will be closed at this time. Deliveries occur once per week. Community members want the delivery schedule to be respectful of the fact the site is bordering residential property.  Deliveries should not happen at peak traffic times due to congestion in the area.

Hours of Operation:

Given the fact that this site borders residential property, the neighborhood does not want a 24-hour Walgreens or a 24-hour drive through. Community members prefer that the store and drive through be closed by 10:00 p.m. at the latest.

 

Alley/Fence:

The community wants the alley behind the California Ave. homes bordering the site to be completely blocked off from pedestrian access from the site or the sidewalk along Larpenteur. A fence will screen the homes, which will border the site and block off the alley behind the homes along California west of the site. The height of the fence is determined by City of St. Paul regulations.  Landscaping will screen the fence. The fence was originally proposed to be constructed of wood.  Residents want the use of a stronger material (for example, brick or metal).  A straw poll was taken, no residents voted in favor of using wood; 10 voted in favor of the use of a more “substantial” material.

 

Store Appearance/Design:

The site plan shows the store immediately abutting the sidewalk on the north (Larpenteur) side of the building, per City of St. Paul pedestrian-friendly access guidelines.  A suggestion was made to soften that border somewhat by using flower boxes or planters (compared to Rainbow Foods store), setting the exterior wall of the store back 2-3 feet, extending the Lexington Ave. “green space” concept around the corner onto Larpenteur, and also improving motorist sight lines in the intersection somewhat.

The Land Use Committee voted to send an action item for consideration by the District 10 Community Council Board at the October 18, 2011, meeting.  If the Board approves, the redevelopment project will proceed to the City of St. Paul, including review by the Planning Commission, the Zoning Commission, and the City Council, with public meetings throughout the process.

ACTION REQUESTED: Board vote to support Semper Development’s proposed redevelopment plan for a Walgreens store on the property currently owned by MGM Liquors on the southwest corner of Lexington Parkway and Larpenteur Avenue with the following conditions:

  • The store and drive-through is closed for business by 10:00 p.m.
  • The fence bordering the south edge of the property and surrounding the alley turn-around is constructed of a substantial material (for example, brick or steel.)
  • Delivery hours are respectful of the neighborhood and during off-peak traffic flow, such as not before 7 am or after 2 pm.

The community also needs assurance that the homes, which are currently owned by MGM adjacent to the proposed site on the south side, will be renovated and sold as owner-occupied homes.

Issues Unresolved Or Yet To Be Determined: Clarify hours of operation and delivery times of the Walgreens store currently on Lexington north of Larpenteur and request that these times be carried over to the new store. Keep lines of communication with Semper Development and community open concerning the development details (building aesthetics, landscaping, fence, lighting, etc.).

New Business: Tim “Giggles” Weiss came to the October 3 Land Use Meeting to request support for his request for a sound level variance for the Friday and Saturday night before Halloween. He has a country/western band booked for Friday night and is looking for another band to book for Saturday night. He is cognizant of previous problems with excessive sound at similar parties in the past and will be directing the speakers away from the Lexington and the District 6 neighbors. Further, he will have the office staffed to take and react to any and all phone calls should any complaints occur. In addition to the speaker consideration, Gabe’s will be picking up any and all trash related to Gabe’s festivities in the neighborhood that weekend.

ACTION REQUESTED: Board vote to recommend approval of Gabes by the Park’s request for a sound variance for October 28 and 29, 2011, from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Adjournment:  The meeting was adjourned at 8:52 p.m.

 

Next meeting:  The next Land Use committee meeting will be held at on Monday, October 24 at the Street Car Station.  

Future Meetings: October 24, 2011 at the Streetcar Station & December 5, 2011 & January 2, 2012 at the Java Train.

Minutes recorded by Linda R. Hinderscheit, committee member

 

 

These minutes are not official until approved.

District 10 Como Community Council | 1224 Lexington Pkwy N, Saint Paul, MN 55103 | 651.644.3889 | district10 [at] district10comopark.org

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