Planners nix wider use for business park

Published on Thu, Feb 22, 2001 by Soren Velice

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Planners nix wider use for business park

By Soren Velice

It never hurts to ask.

Blaine’s planning commission turned down Blaine Business Park owner Doug Connelly’s request to have the commission review the business park’s zoning. Connelly said his goal was to change it to allow stand-alone warehousing on his property, currently prohibited in that zone by city code. He said prospective buyers look elsewhere when they learn they can’t use it for warehousing unless their manufacturing is on-site. “The city has to be flexible enough to modify zoning to meet the trend,” Connelly said. “The door’s got to be open so businesses can come here that aren’t related to manufacturing.”

The current zoning, adopted in June of 1997, does allow warehousing on Connelly’s property, but only in connection with on-site manufacturing. Stand-alone warehousing is allowed west of Ludwick Avenue and north of Boblett Street.

After Connelly made his request at the planning commission’s February 8 meeting to review zoning, no commissioners moved to endorse the request. “It was a concern as a planning commission that we would have our industrial zoned areas as warehouses and basically truck stops for Canadian companies,” planning commission chair Brad O’Neill said.

O’Neill, along with economic and community development director Terry Galvin, said the lack of support stemmed from the city’s 1997 rezoning of Connelly’s property. “They felt that there needed to be an area that would be allocated for a high ratio of jobs,” Galvin said. “There was an employment issue they wanted to address by restricting warehouses in that area.” He added that the city had already gone to extraordinary measures to accommodate Connelly in 1997 by allowing manufacturing at the site. Connelly said he has close to $2 million invested in the property. “I recognize he’s in a very difficult situation, but we can only stretch so far,” Galvin said.

O’Neill said the concern for jobs arose from the chapter in Blaine’s comprehensive plan that addresses economic development. The first goal in that chapter is to encourage the development or expansion of businesses which will provide expanded employment opportunities for city residents. O’Neill said warehousing is in direct conflict with this goal because of the low number of jobs it provides.

Connelly said while he understood the reasoning behind the 1997 decision, he isn’t sure it has helped Blaine. “The reason behind it was to create high employment,” he said, “but for some reason the atmosphere in Blaine hasn’t created that.”

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