ALDI one step closer to LF, as CUP is granted

Staff Writer
The layout for the new ALDI Supermarket on the corner of 18th Street Northeast and Woodland Drive, right. Vehicles would enter the lot through the driveway on 18th Street Northeast and exit via the driveway onto Woodland Drive.

ALDI is one step closer to bringing one of its supermarkets into Little Falls with a brand new building.

The Little Falls City Council approved a conditional use permit (CUP) for the company at its June 19 meeting, to build a commercial building with a 10-foot setback from the north property line, which is next to the Dollar Tree’s property on 18th Street Northeast.

Councilman Frank Gosiak asked about the reasoning and justification for granting a CUP in this case, when it has been denied to others.

Public Works Director Greg Kimman said the permit comes after the city required ALDI to combine the two lots it purchased into one so as to keep the parking lot and the actual building together even if ALDI decided to sell the property.

“That in turn dictates a 40-foot setback,” Kimman said. Otherwise it would have just been the 10-foot setback ALDI requested.

Alderman Brad Hircock got confirmation from Kimman that this discussion about the permit didn’t have anything to do with the parking lot’s driveways onto Woodland Drive.

“The driveway doesn’t really have any bearing on the setback requirement,” Kimman said.

Several residents had concerns about increased traffic flow on both Woodland Drive and 18th Street Northeast at the Little Falls Planning Commission’s public hearing on the permit, June 12, the commission’s report to the Council said.

Councilman Leif Hanson said he was one of the Council members who received requests from residents to have the lot exit onto 18th Street Northeast, rather than onto Woodland Drive, something he said he found reasonable.

“The lot’s huge. There should be no problem with an in and out on 18th Street,” Hanson said.

The request to have cars exit the parking lot onto Woodland Drive came from him, Kimman said, to keep multiple entrances to businesses off 18th Street Northeast.

“When you start having multiple entrances onto a high-traffic-road, such as 18th Street, you increase the risk of accidents occurring,” Kimman said.

Councilman Jerry Knafla said Woodland Drive was the only way people in the neighborhood could get out of it.

Another option is to add another outlet for Woodland Drive, which would exit by the Falls Ballroom, though that idea is unpopular with residents, Kimman said.

Councilman Jeremy Hanfler said he’s never seen cars backed up three or four deep trying to get from Woodland Drive onto 18th Street, which Kimman corroborated, during a 30-minute period he spent out there following the public hearing. Only two contractor vehicles exited Woodland Drive, Kimman said.

Hanson also agreed with the two and said he had the opportunity to stop his car to take a picture without anyone coming up behind him.

The measure passed 6-0, with Mayor Greg Zylka and Hircock abstaining from the vote, as both work for Coborn’s Superstore.

Kimman said before the store can be constructed, a building permit for the store must be issued, and this measure only allows for a commercial building to be built 10 feet from the north property line.