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In 2015, Brooklyn Park City Council approved a development plan for the NorthPark Business Center. This plan allowed for 21 total buildings in the parcel bordered by Highway 169, 109th Avenue, Winnetka Avenue, and 101st Avenue. Recommendations by the city suggested that building sizes should be up to 232,000 square feet and two-stories tall. The "planned development overlay" zoning for this parcel clearly stated that distribution facilities were not permitted.
Fast forward to now. At the northwest corner of Winnetka Avenue and Oxbow Creek Drive, which is a 150-acre portion of the overall NorthPark Business Center, Scannell Properties is proposing a change to the 2015-approved development plan. The 2015-approved plan allows for more buildings with smaller footprints that would be built gradually. This gradual development would allow nearby roads and infrastructure to be improved over time. The 2015-approved plan will also bring jobs and tax revenue to the city of Brooklyn Park. We're asking the city to reject the new development proposal and adhere to the 2015-approved plan. Residents of both Brooklyn Park and Champlin are concerned about this project for the reasons detailed below. This has the potential to affect our property values, our traffic, and our overall quality of life.
On September 26th, 2018, the Brooklyn Park Planning Commission voted to NOT approve this newly proposed plan (pictured above). We're asking City Council to do the same.
The currently-approved development plan for this site specifically states that "distribution facilities are not permitted." The city of Brooklyn Park is using semantics to tell residents that this isn't a distribution facility- it's a "fulfillment center." The definition of "distribution facility" itself changed between May 13, 2015 when the definition was approved by the Planning Commission and May 26th, 2015 when it was approved by City Council. We believe that City Council was misled regarding what the planning commission unanimously recommended regarding the definition of a distribution center. Video archives of these meetings show that the definition of "distribution center" was questioned more than once and that a clear definition was never given.
There is a lack of transparency from the city of Brooklyn Park. During the 2018 Legislative Session, Senator John Hoffman Chief Authored, in the Senate, and Representative Mark Uglem Chief Authored, in the House, a bill that was put in bonding that appropriated $4 million for the interchange at 169 and 101st Avenue. The reason? Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde told Senator Hoffman and Representative Uglem that this interchange would be beneficial to Target employees. The mayor made no mention of this particular project or the increased amounts of traffic it would bring.
The projected number of "vehicle" trips and truck trips appears to be unrealistically low. At a minimum, this project will bring an additional 5,261 daily "vehicle trips" and of that, 214 will be semi-trucks. However, this facility is 3x larger than the Amazon facility in Shakopee and, according to Shakopee's Planning Department, that facility gets 200 trucks daily. Traffic is expected to increase 30% during the holidays.
This influx of traffic will jeopardize the students who walk, ride bikes, travel by bus, or drive to any of the four schools located within 2 miles of the proposed development site. Although the developer would have us believe that employee traffic and truck traffic will typically use Xylon Avenue, 101st Avenue, and 169 for arrival to/from the site, there is no guarantee of that. If the site will bring 2500 jobs to the area and there are two shifts and 1,906 parking spaces, one can easily assume a minimum of 1,000 workers per shift. At shift-end time, that could mean there would be 900-1,000 cars (depending on car-pool and public transit) flooding the surrounding streets with employees trying to avoid traffic back-ups and find the quickest way home. That could mean excessive traffic and back-ups not only on 101st, and 109th, but also on Oxbow Creek Drive, Winnetka Avenue, Zane/Douglas, Noble, 93rd Avenue, 85th Avenue, etc.
The roads surrounding this development are grossly inadequate for this level of traffic. And not only the traffic created once the facility is open, but during the 2-year construction phase. There are discussions about an interchange at 169 & 101st Avenue, but a plan has not been agreed-upon and work has not been scheduled. In fact, there remains an $8 million shortage in funding for that interchange.
The intersection of Winnetka Avenue and Oxbow Creek Drive provides the only access to this site. According to the information we were given at a public open house on September 11th, that means ALL CONSTRUCTION TRAFFIC (backhoes, dump trucks, excavators, front-end loaders, cement mixers, and cranes) will enter and exit at this intersection for, what is projected to be a two-year build time including site preparation and construction of the building itself. Despite this, there are no plans to add a stoplight at this intersection. There are also no plans to widen Winnetka Avenue for this project.
There is currently no agreement between Champlin and Brooklyn Park on the 109th Avenue road reconstruction.
This project belongs in an area with "industrial" land use. If approved, this will be the largest industrial building in the state of Minnesota. According to Brooklyn Park's 2030 Comprehensive Plan, the land use designation for this parcel is "business park," not industrial. Brooklyn Park argues that a "business park" designation allows for an industrial building of this magnitude, but common sense would say that a building of this size isn't what most people envision when they think of a business park.