A plan to build a service station and auto-repair shop in the southeastern corner of Eden Prairie fell flat during the city’s review on Monday, June 14.
The Eden Prairie Planning Commission voted 8-0 to recommend that the city council deny the request. Commissioners cited a number of concerns, mostly centered on the project’s compatibility with nearby established neighborhoods.
The undeveloped, four-acre site at the intersection of Pioneer Trail/County Road 1 and Hennepin Town Road is expected to eventually hold commercial development, but this is the latest of several plans for that property to stumble.
The proposed plan called for a 16-pump Holiday gas station, car wash, and convenience store and a 10-bay Auto Care World auto-repair business next door, all on an “L”-shaped lot that’s difficult to develop because of traffic issues, grade changes, and homes immediately west and north of the lot.
Because of those difficulties, the developer, Maplewood Development, was seeking a number of waivers from city code.
The large contingent of nearby residents attending Monday’s hearing saw that as reason to reject the plan.
“They need many exceptions. But I don’t believe it’s the city’s job nor our neighborly obligation to consent to exceptions that only serve to allow a larger scaled and therefore a more profitable business than the site can physically or safely support,” said neighbor Jay Stankiewicz.
“This development offers nothing our community needs.”
“The fact that it needs so many waivers says, again, that this is just too big for this parcel of land,” agreed Beth Beutell, who suggested that alternate retail uses such as a bank, restaurant, or coffee shop would be more appropriate and neighborhood-friendly.
“This auto plaza is going to transform our neighborhood into a pit stop,” she added.
But Maplewood Development CEO and owner Mario Cocchiarella, said it would be disingenuous to expect anything else to be built on that site other than commercial.
“Because you were the first ones there does not mean you dictate what comes in after you,” he said in response to neighbors’ objections.
The property is zoned as Neighborhood Commercial, and the uses proposed are allowed under that designation, according to city staff. But Commissioner Ed Farr pointed out that a service station and car wash this large might not be neighborhood compatible.
“Sixteen pumps is not neighborhood oriented … and I think that’s the rub,” he said. “The intensity exacerbates the issue.”
Commissioners said they were also bothered by the development’s solution to traffic issues that already exist for the corner of Pioneer Trail and Hennepin Town Road: divert some traffic onto nearby neighborhood streets.
The unanimous vote against the project followed.