The Saint Michael city council has made a priority to find a space for an industrial park, and they are considering a stretch of land at the southwest corner of Jamison Ave. and County Road 18, across the street from STMA High School. Developer Clay Montgomery would like to create an industrial park in this space, and he approached the city council and planning and zoning commission to get their feedback on this concept plan.
Montgomery said he has heard from several companies interested in having industrial space in St. Michael, and Wayne Elam of Commercial Realty said he is currently working with four businesses who need this type of space.
The proposed industrial park would likely not have city sewer/water and would allow metal buildings and outdoor storage. Each parcel would be 1.5-2 acres. Montgomery said he envisions pole-style building with rock front, covenants in place to dress up the façade and trees for screening.
“Several areas have been considered for this type of project, but this site is preferable because it is on the edge of the city so we will never have to get sewer and water past the site,” community development director Marc Weigle explained to planning and zoning commissioners at their February meeting.
Though the city does have an industrial space off Highway 241 between MacIver Ave. and Naber Ave., Weigle said that area calls for concrete, pre-cast, or block construction and they must be on city sewer and water. This area only allows for a fairly limited amount of outdoor storage.
“It’s more oriented toward larger users and manufacturers or distributers,” Weigle said. “The proposed industrial area would be intended for smaller users that may have some outdoor storage needs, like contractors or suppliers.
I would call it more affordable,” he added. “The performance standards would not be as high.”
This location is directly across Jamison Ave. from STMA High School, and this presented some concerns for planning and zoning members.
Some commissioners voiced concerns about the aesthetics of having an industrial park so close to the high school, which hosts many out-of-town visitors each year and is a major symbol of the STMA community.
Commissioner Tom Hamilton said he’d like to see strict screening requirements due to the proximity to the school. Weigle said they could also have stricter covenants on the collector roads that would have more visibility to the public, and looser requirements for less visible lots.
“We just need to be sensitive about the guidelines to make sure it ends up being a nice-looking project,” Hamilton said.
Comissioners also expressed concerns about the possible traffic ramifications, with a slew of new drivers around the high school. However, Elam said the clients he is working with now are all construction-related businesses whose workers would arrive early and be out working all day before returning at the end of the day. He said they wouldn’t create a great deal of traffic, but they need space to store trailers and equipment.
Some commissioners said they felt this type of development would create less traffic than high-density, residential or commercial development.
“We’ve been talking about this for 10-plus years,” Joe Eull said. “I’d like to see us find a spot for these types of small businesses to start and grow in St. Michael.”
The city council and planning and zoning commission held a joint work session at the end of February and reached a consensus to keep moving forward on the project.
“There’s a general consensus that there’s a demand out there and a desire to try to accommodate that type of industrial, and this might be a good location for it,” Weigle said. “But there’s still some uncertainty about the economic viability of that type of development.”
Weigle said they sent a letter to adjacent property owners and have met with a few of them to hear their concerns. The property owner is still working on details to determine if the project will work, and Weigle said they would likely discuss the possible project again with the city council and economic development authority (EDA) in the next few weeks.
“It’s just a concept,” Weigle said. “We haven’t taken any official steps yet until we figure out if the city and developer/owner can reach a point where we feel it is financially viable. We’d be having public meetings on any proposed changes, and at the earliest it would be sometime this spring. We’ll see if we get there or not.”