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Panel recommends approval of Wendinger Travel building request

NEW ULM–The New Ulm Planning approved a recommendation Thursday to permit allowing the operation of Wendinger Travel in a portion of an existing building located at 1314 S. Front St.

The building is located in a general industrial district and travel offices are not usually permitted in the industrial district. They are allowed with a conditional use permit, and the business is compatible with surrounding land uses. In addition, the primary intended use for the site is storage. The travel office would occupy a small portion of the site.

Staff received a call from an area property owner who was concerned about the condition of the alley and believed heavy traffic could make it worse. The individual also had concerns that a travel bus could not make difficult turns in the alley.

Community Development Director David Schnobrich said staff contacted Street Commissioner Jeff Hoffmann about Wendinger Travel using the alley but said Hoffmann had no concerns with this planned usage. He saw no issues with a bus entering or leaving the alley.

Wendinger Travel owner Michael Howk later said the bus used by the company had rear-wheel turning that made it easy to navigate difficult roads.

Commissioner Anne Earl said she agreed the entrance to the alley was suitable but had concerns with extra traffic on Front Street. The street dead-ends at this side of town, but there is no barrier preventing drivers from driving onto the city berm. It was suggested the city engineer look into blocking off the end of the road.

Commissioner Ashley Aukes made a motion to recommend the permit to the city council, with a second from Commissioner Dave Munson.

The motion included amending the hours of operation to allow the business to open at 6 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. Howk said the business could have buses leaving before 7 a.m. for some trips.

The motion was approved by the commission and will go to the city council next Tuesday.

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A second condition use permit was approved to allow the retail sale of appliances, plumbing, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning roofing and other similar products and materials at 1500 N. Front St. John Gag requested the permit on behalf of JMG Rentals.

The property is zoned as a planned industrial district and retail sales would require a permit. Staff recommended approval because the business is compatible with surrounding land uses and the retail portion would occupy a small part of the building.

Gag described the plan for the retail section as an interior showroom. Most of the retail would occur inside the building, but some grilling demonstrations might occur outside the building. Purchasing of grills and accessories would happen indoors.

The permit recommendation was approved by the commission and will go to the council Tuesday for final approval.

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