BAXTER -- A proposal from the Brainerd Post Office to build a full-service post office in Baxter hit a snag Tuesday.
The Baxter City Council, while not outright denying the request, directed staffers, the Long Range Planning Commission and the Industrial and Economic Development Commission to review city ordinances concerning retail businesses in the city's industrial areas.
In 2004 the city of Baxter adopted an ordinance stating retail businesses weren't compatible in industrial areas, and it was for that reason the Industrial and Economic Development Commission Thursday recommended denying the Brainerd Post Office's request to install a walk-in counter and post office boxes at the post office annex building on College Road in the Baxter Industrial Park.
Brainerd Postmaster Warren McQuay Tuesday told the council a full-service post office should have been located in Baxter five years ago. He said there isn't enough parking to handle customers at the post office's retail center on Laurel Street in Brainerd, and there could be even less after the proposed Laurel Street reconstruction project is completed.
"The day is coming where we just won't have enough parking to allow people to do the business they want to do," McQuay said. "We've just basically come to the point where something needs to be done."
Mayor Darrel Olson said everyone agrees Baxter needs a post office but he didn't think that annex building in the industrial park was the right place for one. He also said that, right or wrong, the city passed an ordinance and it should be followed.
"If we feel we did something wrong we need to look at the ordinance instead of doing this piecemeal," Olson said.
Ron Matich, a Baxter Planning and Zoning Commissioner and owner of several buildings in the Baxter Industrial Park, named several businesses that do retail and wholesale business in the industrial park. He said though not in an ordinance, a rule of thumb followed by the city has been to allow 20 percent retail and 80 percent wholesale. He said the ordinance should be changed to reflect that or it could hurt businesses in the industrial park.
"I just think to shut that down is going to substantially affect my business and all those businesses that have buildings up out there," Matich said.
While parking wouldn't be an issue at the post office's annex building in the Baxter Industrial Park, Public Works Director Trevor Walter said there could be a traffic concern. He noted College Road wasn't constructed to handle retail businesses. He said there were no right turn lanes and it could be dangerous for traffic making left turns onto College Road.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.
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