BY COUNCILOR GILBERT:
WHEREAS, Thomas O’Brien, Barrington Waldorf, LLC, Mike and Rebecca Pierce, and Chad and Michelle Pierson have submitted to the city council a request to amend the Kenwood Shopping Center C-3 zoning plan to eliminate conditions three and four of the March 12, 1973, city council resolution, thereby allowing the closing of the pedestrian path located between Buffalo Street and the rear of the shopping center; and said amendment application was duly referred to the city planning commission for a study, report and public hearing; and
WHEREAS, a motion to deny the request, based on the need to preserve this easement for current and future use, failed to receive the minimum votes required by the commission’s bylaws; and
WHEREAS, no other motion was offered; and
WHEREAS, the planning commission failed to make a recommendation; therefore, this matter is presented to the city council without recommendation from the planning commission (Reference File No. 04109)
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the petition to amend the March 12, 1973, city council resolution is hereby granted.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: This resolution will allow the closure of the pedestrian path linking the Kenwood Shopping Center to the neighborhood to the south. It will eliminate from the shopping center owners the responsibility for maintenance of the 125 foot long pedestrian pathway to Buffalo Street.
The planning commission held a public hearing on this matter at its regular meeting at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 12, 2004. Speakers on the matter included the shopping center owner, the homeowners from both sides of the pedestrian way, as well as three neighbors who spoke in favor of maintaining the pedestrian pathway. Additionally, staff received communications from four neighbors and groups in support of maintaining the pathway and one for closing it. It is estimated by a homeowner adjacent to the path that 12-30 people use this pathway daily.
A motion to deny the request failed; the motion was based on the following:
1.) The lack of sidewalk facilities elsewhere (along the east side of Kenwood Avenue) make this the best possible access to the shopping center from the surrounding neighborhood as well as the University of Minnesota Duluth and St. Scholastica. If this pathway is allowed to be closed, it is highly unlikely that it will ever reopen.
2.) Increasingly, the community is becoming aware of the need for pedestrian facilities such as those that link neighborhood commercial facilities with residential neighborhoods. Eliminating this pedestrian link now may prevent future residents from enjoying the health and convenience benefits of the pathway.
The petitioners sought to have the easement eliminated so that the neighbors of this property would have control of the property. They stated that such closure would eliminate the night noise, graffiti on privately-owned fences, debris, and other nuisances. They maintained that safety issues existed due to the following:
1.) The Festival addition has generated more traffic in a narrower alley.
2.) The almost two-foot elevation difference between the alley and the pathway poses a safety risk to pedestrians.
No other motion was offered; therefore, this matter is presented to the city council without a recommendation from the planning commission.
Application date: September 7, 2004
Action deadline: January 5, 2005