Warshauer denied permit

SLEEPY EYE — The Sleepy Eye City Council unanimously denied a conditional use permit application by Paul Warshauer to allow living/working space on the first floor of the former General Trading Company building Aug. 16.

On Aug. 7. the Sleepy Eye Planning and Zoning Commission approved Warshauer’s proposal for living quarters in the rear of the building and a small restaurant in the front part of the building located at 229 W. Main St.

Matt Mages of Mages Land Co. & Auction Service said Warshauer planned to hire two full-time employees and one part-time employee for a restaurant/coffee shop but needed first-floor living quarters to make the project cash flow. Several apartments are on the second floor of the building that is zoned commercial.

“This can inject new life and money downtown,” Mages said. “It’s 2018, not 1975. We need to think outside the box… We need dollars going into downtown. We’ve got somebody willing to invest downtown without taking away a store front.”

City Manager Mark Kober and several city councilors voiced objections.

“Downtown first-floor apartments set a precedent. It’s not in keeping with what’s around it,” Kober said.

Warshauer said his apartment kitchen would be separate from the restaurant kitchen and he has a rear door and walk-in door in the garage to his proposed apartment.

Doug Pelzel made a motion against the permit, seconded by Joann Schmidt.

The city council unanimously approved;

• Three playground equipment stations for Eagles Park at a total cost of $28,800 from BCI Burke Co. One of the stations includes piano and drum musical stations designed for kids up to age 12.

• Moving to the park and recreation committee to do emergency repair work on the south softball field at Prairieview Park. Jim Klein was given the go-ahead to get further details on expanding the softball complex from two to four fields. Klein said the project would help make Sleepy Eye more of a softball tournament destination that would bring lots of business to town.

• Moving forward on a $985,000 state grant available for crossing projects at 12th Avenue at U.S. Highway 14, extending north to St. Mary’s Street and west to State Highway 4, motion by Pelzel, seconded by Larry Braun. Total project cost is estimated at $3.5 million including expanding and paving streets.

• The city council began a closed meeting in accordance with state statutes to discuss legal strategy for pending litigation from a City of Sleepy Eye employee related to city employment.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.