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Electric car owners to power up in Alexandria

Alexandria will soon be a popular spot for those with electric cars. At its Monday meeting, the Alexandria City Council issued a conditional use permit to Tesla Inc. to install 13 "supercharger" stations on the east side of the Target parking lot...

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Tesla provided this image showing one of its supercharger sites for its electric cars. (Contributed)
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Alexandria will soon be a popular spot for those with electric cars.

At its Monday meeting, the Alexandria City Council issued a conditional use permit to Tesla Inc. to install 13 "supercharger" stations on the east side of the Target parking lot, southwest of the Highway 29/Dakota Street intersection. Two of the stations will be available for electric cars that are not Tesla models.

Tesla and Target are partnering on the project, said City Planner Mike Weber. He noted that Tesla is expanding its reach west along the Interstate 94 corridor and works with Target because it will soon have stores in all 50 states.

It takes about 45 minutes for a Tesla car to recharge. A Tesla representative told the city that's why it's important to find a location with WiFi that's near restaurants and bathrooms and has amenities for children.

Council member Todd Jensen said that Alexandria will be the only supercharger location between St. Cloud and Fargo.

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Tesla is covering all the expenses of installing the charging stations and will pay ALP Utilities for the electricity.

The permit came with three conditions: A separate landscaping plan is required as part of the installation process; a separate sign permit is required; and any exterior lighting must be hooded and directed away from the public.

The supercharger construction is expected to begin in the spring.

Other electric charging stations are available in Alexandria, such as those by Goodwill, but this will be the largest location in the city.

Affordable housing help?

Help may be on the way for those searching for affordable housing options in Alexandria.

The council is exploring the idea of establishing an Alexandria Affordable Housing Trust Fund that will provide loans and grants to homeowners as well as developers to cover acquisition, capital and soft costs for housing projects.

If the idea moves ahead, the council would determine funding sources for starting the fund. Possibilities include the city's Revolving Loan Fund, fund balances in tax increment financing districts and using a portion of the Alexandria Housing and Redevelopment Authority's levy.

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However, two council members, Virgil Batesole and Bob Kuhlman, aren't sold on the plan.

Kuhlman said as the proposal is currently written, the fund would be permanent, which he opposed. He also didn't like the fact that the Alexandria HRA would have final approval over how the fund is distributed, not the city council.

Batesole shared those concerns and didn't want the city to set up another fund or use tax dollars to pay for housing projects. He said tax increment financing and abatements should be used instead.

Jensen and council member Bobbie Osterberg supported the idea, saying that more affordable housing, which would include workforce housing, is needed in the city.

After hearing Batesole's and Kuhlman's questions, Osterberg made a motion to refer the concept back to the city's legislative committee to address the concerns and it was unanimously approved.

Street overlays

The council approved a list of local streets that will receive overlays next year.

They include Victor Street (the south end to Sixth Avenue East), Sixth Avenue (the west end to Cedar Street), Ninth Avenue (from Jefferson to Kenwood), 10th Avenue (from Lark to Ash), 11th Avenue (from Broadway to Hawthorne), 13th Avenue (from Broadway to Hawthorne), Lark Street (from Winona Drive to 10th Avenue) and Winona Drive (from the city limits to 13th Avenue).

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The total budget for all the projects is $357,000. As in other years, all the projects will be bid separately and the bid award will be adjusted to meet the money that's in the budget.

The projects would be funded through $282,000 in Municipal State Aid Funds and $75,000 from the city's street paving levy.

In related action, the council agreed to pay Widseth Smith Nolting and Associates $61,958 to provide the engineering work for the projects.

Lake Andrew development

A proposed development on Lake Andrew that drew concerns from some residents living near the lake won't need additional environment study.

Zavadil Development is proposing to construct 52 townhomes, 10 lake lots for separate sale, and related road and utility improvements on 55 acres along the northwestern shore of the lake.

The project was approved by the Alexandria City Council in March 2017 and an environmental review process has been taking place.

Several residents objected to the plan and circulated a petition against it. They were worried about the development's impact along 1,700 feet of shoreline habitat and water quality. Some also contended that more residents should have been contacted about the project and wanted more time to comment about it.

Notices were sent to all property owners living within 350 feet from the development, as required by state law and city statute, according to Weber.

The city's planning and zoning commission said that an environmental assessment worksheet reviewed the project, identified potential environmental impacts and determined there were no outstanding issues that required more study.

Several residents raised concerns about the density of the project - 64 units on 92 acres, said Weber. He added that one of the groups that opposed the density, the Cottage Grove Association, has 67 units on 8.5 acres.

Weber said the environmental worksheet showed the project will actually benefit the lake through stormwater management that will reduce the phosphorus and sediment getting into the lake by 64 percent.

Special event permits

The council issued three special event permits:

• The Alexandria Fire Department will hold its annual open house at the fire station on Monday, Oct. 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. to promote and showcase fire prevention. A section of Fillmore Street will be blocked off for the LifeLink helicopter to land safely.

• The Alexandria Fire Department will hold its fourth "Fill the Boot" fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association on Saturday, Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Firefighters will collect donations near the intersection of Third Avenue and Nokomis Street. They won't be stopping traffic or going into the streets.

• Someplace Safe and United Communities Advocating Non-Violence will hold its 12th annual "Taking Steps Against Domestic Violence Awareness Walk" on Tuesday, Oct. 16 from 5 to 7 p.m. It will start at the courthouse and end at Calvary Lutheran Church.

In related action, the council approved a resolution proclaiming October as Domestic Violence Awareness month. A total of 506 Douglas County residents, including 48 children, received services related to domestic violence from Someplace Safe last year.

There will also be a Domestic Violence Awareness Luncheon at Arrowwood on Wednesday, Oct. 17, starting at 11:45 a.m.

Related Topics: ALEXANDRIA CITY COUNCIL
Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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