Elizabeth Bowen, a 10-year resident who lives on Park Street, spoke against the city moving forward with the development of two multiple unit dwellings on a parcel of land near City Hall at the Tuesday, March 26 River Falls City Council meeting. The proposed development is located at Clark and Cedar streets near the Kinnickinnic River,.
Bowen encouraged council members to reconsider changing the zoning and land use for the land where the developments, known as The Depot and City Station, are set to be built. The Depot parcel of land is now zoned for limited commercial and would be rezoned for multiple family high density housing, if the council approves the rezoning at its next meeting. The City Station parcel of land is currently zoned for industrial, and would be re-zoned to multiple family high density residential, if approved.
The council had a first reading of the proposed changes Tuesday night, and is set to vote on those changes on April 9. Along with those proposed changes, the city is also looking at changing the land use designation of the development site to public/institutional and conservancy to residential high density. About half of the City Station parcel would remain designated conservancy area.
Bowen voiced concern about eroding banks on the Kinni. She suggested the council look to developing other areas, near UW-River Falls.
She said the loss of green space would be "hard to reclaim if not impossible." She called the rezoning proposal "short-sighted."
She said she watches people use the parcel of land designated for The Depot and City Station to access the river for kayaks, etc., and that putting in these developments would prevent that.
The council did not have questions or discussion on the proposed rezoning and land use changes.
The council did, however, approve a general development plan for The Depot and City Station. This is the first step in the process of creating a Planned Unit Development.
The Depot and City Station are planned to be two multi-family dwellings with market rate and affordable apartment units. City Station, which is set to be closer to the river, is planned to be set back 75 feet from the river, which is 20 feet further back than an existing apartment building in that location, according to the general development plan.
The existing apartment building is set to be demolished.
The general development plan was approved with no opposition. Present were council member Diane Odeen, acting as council president in the absence of Mayor Dan Toland and Council President Scott Morrissette, and council members Sean Downing, Chris Gagne, Michael Page, and Todd Bjerstedt. Hal Watson was also not present.
The council also approved:
• Awarding the 2019 curb gutter and sidewalk repair bid to Harmon Concrete not to exceed $85,000
• A temporary no-parking zone on Bartosh Lane for Rocky Branch
• A temporary school zone on Prairie Drive and Paulson Road for the Montessori Academy which will be housed in the former RiverTown Multimedia building next year.
• Welcomed new Treasurer and Finance Director Sarah Karlsson.