Planning panel OK with fewer parking spaces

NEW ULM — The Planning Commission recommended a variance to reduce the amount of off-street parking for the State Street Apartments Project.

The apartment project is currently designed for 55 units. City code requires 1.5 parking spaces for each unit. For this project, 83 parking spaces would be required. The project has struggled to create 83 parking spaces in and around the historic State Street Theater. To reach the required 83 stalls, street spaces would need to be permitted as apartment-only parking.

This issue was first presented at the July 17 city council meeting. The council was asked to designate street parking for the apartments to reach the 83-stall requirement. The council tabled the decision and directed project managers to apply for a variance to reduce the parking from 83 spaces to 74.

The city has approved variances to reduce parking in the past for senior housing projects. According to code, Highland Regency House should have 75 parking stalls but a variance allowed for only 51. Broadway House has 20 stalls, after reducing the requirement down from 60 parking stalls.

Community Development Director David Schnobrich said to recommend a variance, the commission needed to determine if it was a reasonable location for an apartment project, whether the problem is unique to the property and whether the variance will alter the character of the property.

The commission’s approval of the variance reduces the number of needed parking spaces by nine stalls.

Approval of the request is subject to the yellow striped curb on 1st North Street to allow angle parking in this location. This would increase the amount of on-street parking in this area for future use by tenants.

The commission unanimously approved the variance. Final approval is needed from the city council.