Walmart public hearing in Andover delayed

The public hearing regarding the proposed Walmart store in Andover is no longer scheduled for May 8. It will not occur until June or July, an Andover staff member said.

The intersection of Bunker Lake Boulevard and Jay Street is right by the proposed Walmart development on the former Pov’s Sports Bar site. There may or may not need to be improvements to this intersection depending on what the city and Anoka County Highway Department determine in its traffic study.

The intersection of Bunker Lake Boulevard and Jay Street is right by the proposed Walmart development on the former Pov’s Sports Bar site. There may or may not need to be improvements to this intersection depending on what the city and Anoka County Highway Department determine in its traffic study.f

The city March 20 received an application from the McCombs Frank Roos Associates, Inc. consulting firm to construct an approximately 150,000 square-foot Walmart where the closed Pov’s Sports Bar and softball field now stands on the northwest corner of Bunker Lake Boulevard and Jay Street.

Community Development Director David Carlberg told the Anoka County Union that city staff has completed its review and sent additional questions to Walmart representatives.

Analyzing the impact on traffic and wetlands are the two most key issues being looked at, he said.

The Anoka County Highway Department and Coon Creek Watershed District are doing their own reviews.

“We want to make sure everybody is on the same page as far as impacts prior to moving forward with public hearings,” Carlberg said.

According to Carlberg, Walmart is proposing separate areas for the sale of groceries and alcohol within its development. Specifically, Walmart would like to sell strong beer that has higher than a 3.2 percent alcohol concentration, wine and hard liquor.

Walmart would need the Andover City Council to approve conditional use permits for the development itself, the sale of intoxicating liquor and outside storage.

Carlberg expects to hear from Walmart soon regarding its outside storage plans, he said.

The over 650 parking stalls on the preliminary site plan and the 10- by 18-foot size for each stall meets Andover’s parking requirements, so a parking variance would not be necessary at this point. However, Carlberg said that some parking stalls encroach on a city sanitary sewer easement, so this issue needs to be resolved.

The proposed downcast lights that cut down on light pollution would mirror what the public sees at the Andover YMCA/Community Center and meets current city lighting standards, he said.

City staff will be meeting with Walmart’s architect to see if the building can include more brick and glass in order to match the overall appearance of the Andover Station development area along Bunker Lake Boulevard, Carlberg told the Anoka County Union.

Carlberg said city staff is shooting for a June public hearing before the Andover Planning and Zoning Commission, but he said the issue may not come forward until July depending on where all the government entities are in their reviews.

After the commission has its say, the council would make the final determination on whether Walmart can develop on Pov’s site and what conditions need to be met.

The council has made it clear that there must be a valid reason for denying the development.

“We will look at everything Walmart proposes,” Mayor Mike Gamache said. “And then we’ll have to make a determination on a legal basis as to what we can and can’t do.”

 

Evaluating traffic

Curtis Jones during the resident forum at the April 17 council meeting questioned why the city would not look at the traffic impact on roads such as Andover and Crosstown boulevards.

Gamache told Jones he did not know how these other roads would be affected, but he said that Walmart also proposed a location along Highway 65 near 117th Avenue in Blaine.

County Engineer Doug Fischer said when roads such as Bunker Lake Boulevard and Hanson Boulevard were designed, the county highway department looked at 20-year traffic projections and designed the highway accordingly, including intersections. The traffic counts are based on general assumptions based on the city’s comprehensive plan and general traffic modeling.

Fischer said part of the analysis will not only be what Walmart expects to generate for traffic from day one, but what the entire build-out of Andover Station could generate compared with what was originally expected.

According to Fischer, the county highway department recently received a copy of the development traffic study from the city and is reviewing it. If there are questions or the need for additional information, it could take several weeks for the final comments to be submitted to the city from the county.

Fischer said the signals on Bunker Lake Boulevard are interconnected, so the county would evaluate signals at Hanson Boulevard, Jay Street and Quinn Street. It also will look at the operations of the Hanson Boulevard-139th Lane signal that is on the northeast side of the Andover Station North development area.

Depending on what the numbers tell the county about the impacts at the signalized intersections, more signals may need to be evaluated, he said.

 

Wetlands

It is too early to determine whether Walmart would impact any wetlands on the site, according to Coon Creek Watershed District Administrator Tim Kelly.

The first step is to determine where the wetland delineation line is and the last time the watershed district looked at this site was before Pov’s developed in 1994, he said.

The district knows that groundwater levels have been dropping in the past 18 years, which impacts the wetlands, but how much this particular site has been impacted needs to be determined, Kelly said.

Another factor, of course, is that Walmart would have a larger development than Pov’s, he said.

After the wetland delineation line is found, Kelly said the watershed district would look at Walmart’s plan to see if it plans to fill any wetlands. If so, Walmart would need to give a very good explanation on the necessity of this, but the review has not got to this point, he said.

Just west of this site is a state protected wetland, which feeds into a culvert that goes under Bunker Lake Boulevard to the pond near Target and then to Coon Creek. Walmart will need to get a storm water plan to handle water runoff approved so these bodies of water are not polluted.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com


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