Recently the Planning Commission enabled the construction of new housing at St. Olaf, but not a large parking lot.
Students are always welcome in the neighborhood and we support St. Olaf’s efforts to shape their internal community, but like the Planning Commission, we agree that the placement of parking can significantly impact the safety and quality of life for others.
St. Olaf Avenue is one of the most active residential neighborhoods in Northfield with families, children, pedestrians, St. Dominic school children, Way Park visitors and diners at the Ole Store. The consultants did the minimum required to define a neighborhood and left out the 90% or more of people who will be impacted every day.
The Planning Commission looked at data, and made unanimous recommendations that are consistent with the City Land Development Code to permit housing that St. Olaf believes they need, but to not push 200 more cars onto an already busy street. We support their conclusions.
As a neighbor and an alum, I have serious concerns about the conditional use permit proposed by St. Olaf. Even with 100 students pulled back on campus, 75 students will still live off campus who are likely to WANT to have cars and certain lifestyles. If college students can walk out of a dorm or a house to their cars, they will drive--not walk or bus--to destinations. They drive now from one block off campus to classes. Keep parking at the Skoglund lot. Delivery trucks and cars will increase on Lincoln and St. Olaf Ave to service the new dorm. Construction will be a nightmare. I Support the Planning Commission's recommendation to remove 200 additional parking spaces planned. I live on St. Olaf Ave, outside of the 350 feet for an invitation to the September meeting. I expect more traffic, noise, pollution, and parking issues, while infrastructure like sewer systems, which were designed for homes, will now need to service 400+ additional people. Please help preserve our neighborhood.
Rezoning is a separate issue from what the College would like to put on the rezoned land. One can of course understand the College's desire to explain its plans for the land, should it be rezoned. Thus, the packet includes a variety of details about the proposed buildings and parking lots, even though those will not be formally considered until 2021.
However, since this agenda item makes various claims about parking and traffic as part of discussing the College's plans, it is important that the Council and residents know that the Planning Commission considered these claims at its November meeting, and found that the proposed parking would violate the City Land Development Code in a couple of ways. The Planning Commission unanimously adopted the attached recommendation to Council.