Zoning for former AMPI site discussed

By Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

How should the former AMPI Creamery property be rezoned?

The New Prague Planning and Zoning Commission began a discussion on that question at its Wednesday, March 25, meeting. It's a discussion the commission will continue at its Wednesday, April 22, meeting.

Ken Ondich, New Prague Planning Director, explained the former creamery site at 302 Second St. NW is part of one large area currently zoned I-1, light industrial. It begins on the west next to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks going east to Second Avenue NW and stretches south from Second Street NW to West Main Street.

Businesses in the affected area include FlipSide Pub & Grill, Joe's Shoe Repair and Strike Force Bowl, all along West Main Street.

Ondich noted with the property zoned as light industrial, those businesses are considered non-conforming. According to the city's 2005 Comprehensive Plan, that area is to eventually be zoned B-1 central business district. For the business owners, the rezoning of the area would be a benefit as it would make it easier to make improvements or expand.

Under the Comprehensive Plan, the northern half of the property is to be zoned RM medium density residential. Since the demolition of the creamery in 2008, the majority of that area is vacant, and is being used for the staging of semi-trucks for the ConAgra mill.

Residents and property owners were invited to the discussion with five attending. Among them were Willis and Kim Cooan, who own a storage building between the railroad tracks and Third Avenue NW, which is a gravel road. The couple provided the city with a letter, recommending their property be zoned B-1 since they use the area commercially.

Ondich noted that due to setbacks from the street and the railroad tracks, the Cooan property is non-conforming.

Steve Duban, owner of FlipSide Pub & Grill asked if housing for the northern portion would be assisted living. He also wanted to know where the semi-trucks would go once the area is developed.

Ondich explained the housing would be single family and assisted living would need permits. He added that ConAgra has approached the city about the possibility of removing some of the older buildings on its property and creating a truck staging area.

John Bodger who owns property along the railroad tracks said when he bought the land it was zoned as industrial and he would like to keep it that way. He asked Ondich if there were any developers looking at the land. Ondich said there were none.

Commission member Bob Gilman noted if the area was left industrial that may stop a developer from coming in, but zoning it for business would likely help.

The discussion will continue at the commission's April 22 meeting. A public hearing will likely be held at its Wednesday, May 27, meeting.

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