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New firefighters Steele Malek, Zach Christians, Matt McDougall and Lori Ledoux recognized at last week’s city council meeting (Photo courtesy city of Waconia)

A four-story, 163-unit apartment building will be the latest addition to the burgeoning area near Marketplace Drive on the west side of town.

The Waconia City Council approved a rezoning application and plans for the proposed apartment at its latest meeting Sept. 20. The subject parcel, located at 601 Industrial Boulevard West, is about 11.67 acres in size, currently undeveloped, bordering on Mackenthun’s market and other retail development to the north, industrial use to the east and west, and city-owned parkland to the south. The property was originally guided industrial in the city’s comprehensive land use plan, but a revision to high-density residential designation approved by the council this spring enables apartment construction to proceed.

The apartment proposed for development by Oppidan Holdings, Inc. is for market-rate housing with a mix of studio/alcove, one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Other features include a community/party room, exercise room, media room, mailroom, management/leasing office, patio, dog run, underground parking with bike storage, and potentially a rooftop deck.

City council and earlier planning commission discussion focused on road access, adequacy of parking, and access to Sudheimer Park to the south. The council also approved a variance request that authorizes the building to exceed the city’s 40-foot height limit by about six feet. The developer noted that expanding the building up rather than out reduces its footprint and preserves more existing trees, which also helps screen the building from residential properties to the south.

In other business, the council awarded a contract to lone bidder Ebert Construction for construction of a storage shed and entry way remodel for Everson’s Hardware. The store improvements were a condition of easement acquisition for the new East Frontage Road being planned south of Highway 5 because the roadway alignment is through the store’s existing structures and takes the southern portion of the business parcel. The total bid for demolition of the existing structures and construction of new building and systems amounts to $390,800.

The council also authorized the expenditure of a $20,000-$30,000 for a study to evaluate the potential of a stormwater reuse system in downtown Waconia in advance of the city’s next downtown infrastructure improvement project planned for 2022-2023. As part of downtown reconstruction efforts, the city is looking to reduce the volume of stormwater run-off from impervious surfaces and meet water quality levels for Lake Waconia and other surface waters.

In other building action, the council authorized a property owner at 425 Lake Street East to reconstruct an existing and aging retaining wall that extends partially onto city owned cemetery property to the east.

The council also heard from neighbors of a property at 317 Olive Street that they say has become neglected, blighted and a safety concern. The council took no action last Monday on the unoccupied home, but instructed city staff to investigate the issue and determine what options the city has under existing ordinances and statues to address the concerns.

Four new firefighters also were sworn in at a short badge pinning ceremony during the meeting. Steele Malek, Matt McDougall, Lori Ledoux and Zach Christians recently completed their training and probationary period, and have been assigned to the position of active firefighter.

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