BAXTER -- A packed Baxter City Hall was nearly cleared of people within 10 minutes with a single motion of the planning commission.
Baxter's Planning and Zoning Commission tabled discussion of the proposed Wal-Mart superstore Tuesday night until an Environmental Assessment Worksheet is completed. The project's size requires the EAW and the city received a petition for one from residents. The EAW process is expected to be completed by late March or early April with a return to the planning commission likely in early May.
About 115 people attended Tuesday's meeting. They parked along Memorywood Drive and filled nearly every chair provided in an expanded seating area. A majority of people signing in listed Wal-Mart as their subject of interest.
Baxter prepared for the meeting by adding chairs and opening the folding doors separating a break room from the council chambers to create more seating. People sat quietly, waiting for the meeting to begin. The meeting also attracted members of the Baxter and Brainerd city councils and the Crow Wing County Board.
At first it sounded as though it would be a lengthy meeting. Rick Wiersgalla, Planning and Zoning Commission acting chairman, asked for polite discussion of the issues.
Central Lakes Properties LLC, out of Minneapolis, Jan. 27 applied for minor subdivision preliminary plat approval for 34 acres of land off of Glory Road, just west of Highway 371.
The minor subdivision of the Central Lakes Properties land, conditional use permit applications and a variance request to reduce the number of loading docks from the city's required 35 to seven took up three pages of the six-page agenda. Scheduled to be the last items of discussion, the commission moved the Central Lakes Property to the first item.
The preliminary plat proposed by Central Lakes Properties calls for a 207,502 square-foot Wal-Mart Super Center, which will include a grocery store, gas station and an auto repair center.
The motion to table came within the first few moments. Baxter City Planner Todd Holman noted not all the developer's group were present yet, with some expecting the item to be later in the meeting. Seconds later, the rest of the developer's group arrived shaking off coats as they approached the front of the room. They were prepared to speak, but Crow Wing County Commissioner Terry Sluss, who led the residents' petition for an EAW, pointed to the rules of order that no discussion can take place on a motion to table. The commission agreed.
The room nearly emptied less than 10 minutes after the meeting began, leaving about 20 people for other agenda items.
Planning and Zoning Commission members are Wiersgalla, Bob Ryan, Jody Martinson, Ron Matich and Bob Kinzel, who was absent Tuesday. Baxter City Council member Darrel Olson is the council's commission liaison. Olson is a non-voting member unless a quorum is needed.
The next Baxter City Council meeting is set Feb. 18.
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