In a lengthy meeting Monday night, members of the Decorah Planning & Zoning Commission reviewed numerous aspects of Menard's application to build a 200,000 square foot store on property off Old Stage Road.
Commission members agreed to continue their discussion to their June 11th meeting and to hold a public hearing at 7:10 p.m. to get comments on the rezoning application. The city's Board of Adjustment will be asked to rule on variances for the development. The Iowa DNR will be asked to rule on whether the property can be filled so it would no longer be in the floodplain.
Some aspects of the Menard's application on which the Commission spent the most time were traffic concerns about Old Stage Road and Highway 9; landscaping and green space issues; and a water retention pond.
Commission member Llew Jenkins wondered what impact the heavier traffic on Old Stage Road would have on the left turn lane on eastbound Highway 9, especially on traffic turning into Gundersen Clinic. Commission members Tony Clarke wondered about the impact on Casey's and Walmart traffic on Old Stage Road. Menard's representative Tyler Edwards agreed to a request that Menard's forward traffic counts at one of its typical stores, so those traffic counts can be given to the Iowa DOT for a traffic study.
The site plan for the proposed Menard's calls for a smaller parking lot than typical in a C-4 development--384 spaces instead of 798. Edwards said "our sales are different--spread out during the day," explaining the request for a variance for a smaller parking lot. Planning & Zoning Commission members didn't see that as a problem, but they were more concerned with a shortage of green space in the parking lot and around the store.
Finally, Menard's plan for a retention pond near the store drew questions from the Commission. P & Z member Nathan Thompson questioned how the Upper Iowa River would possibly interact with the retention pond and said the closeness of the city's Wastewater Treatment Plant was "a concern." Questions were also raised about the steep slope of the retention pond.
City officials say they will continue to work with Menard's representatives to try to resolve these issues. The Planning & Zoning Commission will meet again on June 11th.