PEQUOT LAKES - A public hearing has been set by the city for the proposed Highway 371 bypass on the east side of Pequot Lakes.
The Pequot Lakes City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to set the public hearing for4-8 p.m. on Nov. 16 at the Pequot Lakes High School.
Voting against the motion was council member Tom Ryan. He said he wanted the full through-town route also part of the public hearing.
The council first approved the through-city route in 2004 but in 2008 identified the bypass as the preferred option. The issue is part of a larger Minnesota Department of Transportation project to expand the two lanes of Highway 371 North between Nisswa and Pine River to four lanes.
Ryan said when the council revisited the issue the idea was to have the opportunity to look at the benefits and detriments of each option in full.
"We spent a long time looking at the bypass route but it's been long time since anyone has seen the through-town route as well, in order to contrast that," Ryan said. "It would be my thought, in the spirit what we were originally trying to do, was to get feedback, get a full detail of the bypass sure, how it works, and the full detail of the through-town town route which we all knew at one time but have forgotten about."
Mayor Nancy Adams said the through-town route was not an option on the table.
Council member Dave Sjoblad said he wouldn't talk about the through-town route if asked about it at the public hearing.
"I think this hearing is only about the route proposed at this time," Sjoblad said. "I don't think it has anything to do with the past."
Adams said the format of the public hearing would be similar to MnDOT's public hearings - with council members present and public comments entered into the record.
The city has 90 days after the public hearing to provide municipal consent of MnDOT's proposed bypass route.
"All municipal consent does is identify the corridor location. It's not something written in stone except for the corridor location," Adams said
"I don't want to make decision immediately. I want to listen to what people have to say."
The entire proposed Highway 371 project, between Highway 18 in Nisswa to the Cass County Road 2/42 in Pine River, has an estimated price tag of $95 million and is scheduled to be constructed in stages between 2018 and 2029.
In Pequot Lakes, five potential residential relocations and one commercial relocation are expected with the bypass. The three at-grade (no overpass) intersections would be at the south end at County Road 107 near Timberjack Smokehouse, the north end at County Road 16 and at County Road 11.
The Pequot Lakes City Council previously decided not to allow commercial development along the bypass, but the decision doesn't bind future councils.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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