Planning recommends Chart plats for approval

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

Chart Industries is in the planning stages of designing a new office building for its facility, near the intersection of Highway 21 and Seventh Street NW (Scott County Road 37).

The company presented a request for a preliminary and final plat at the Wednesday, Aug. 23 meeting of the New Prague Planning and Zoning Commission as a first step toward that project. After discussion, the commission recommended to the city council it approve those plats.

The office building would replace a set of office trailers on the south side of the property. The trailers were placed on the former MVE, Inc., site in 1996, and plans to build a permanent facility were put on hold when the company was sold to Chart Industries. The proposed office building would be located south of the main plant, in an area that is not currently platted. Chart asked that the area consisting of one lot and two outlots on 3.54 acres be platted, since it is currently described in the outdated metes and bounds.

During the required public hearing on the plat Dick Lucas, owner of Scott Equipment located to the south of Chart on Seventh Street NW, said the site plan for Chart didn't match a site plan he had for the area.

The land in question is a six-foot strip of land, lying south of CSAH 37 that belongs to Chart. The company didn't know until recently it owned the small parcel of land. It was decided to have the area platted as an outlot and combine it with the property to the north.

Steve Thoresen and other representatives of Chart were at the meeting. They said the temporary buildings are beginning to show their age.

Currently Chart is working with architects on designs for a two-story office building, that would be approximately 30,000 square feet. The present office area has about 93 people and plans call for a Burnsville office to be relocated to New Prague, bringing in an additional 12 employees. The company hopes to break ground in October.

City planner Renee Christianson said that as part of the platting process future access to Highway 21 should be restricted. The reason is that for safety reasons the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) prefers to have as few accesses to highways as possible. It was also suggested that the current driveway from Chart to CSAH 37 be made smaller to create better traffic flow.

It was noted that there will be future improvements to the streets in that area. Work is scheduled in 2007 to reconstruct the intersection of Highway 21 and CSAH 37. Scott County would like an additional 10 feet of land be dedicated along CSAH 37 to provide for a possible right turn lane at the intersection. At this time, it is not known how much land MnDOT would like dedicated for the intersection.

It was asked if the plat could be tabled until the city knew how much land MnDOT wanted for the right of way.

Chart representatives said waiting a month would throw off their timetable for the work.

Christianson said staff did need direction from the planning commission about whether or not to include sidewalks as one of the conditions for the plat.

New Prague City Council representative Kay Wilcox suggested a condition be made for a future sidewalk on the east side of Highway 21.

After some discussion it was decided that conditions for sidewalks not be included, since it was not known if there would be enough room for a sidewalk after the work was done on the intersection.

Scott Equipment expansion

Lucas addressed the commission about a possible addition on his property. He has been discussing the plans with city staff.

One idea is to add onto the southeast corner of the building and extend the building addition as close to the east property line as possible, along the railroad right of way. However, there is a question as to whether the east side would be defined as a side or rear yard. There are different setbacks for side and rear property lines.

Lucas also owns property to the south of his business that is currently platted as a separate lot. After some discussion, city staff suggested that the two parcels be replatted into one, then Lucas could go with the plan he wants. Lucas agreed to work with the city on combining the two parcels into one.

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