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MN 60 expansion plans criticized

WORTHINGTON -- Dennis Bucholz, manager of Worthington Ag Parts, went before the Nobles County Planning Commission Wednesday night to notify them of some changes that will need to be made at the business as a result of the Minnesota 60 four-lane expansion project.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is taking about 50 feet of Worthington Ag Parts' property, resulting in the need to move the facility's loading dock and create a cul de sac. In addition, the original white building will need to be removed, the septic system brought into compliance and the screen fencing replaced in areas.

"The biggest impact that we're having is they're taking away all our driveways," Bucholz said. "We will be serviced by a road coming from Schaap's (Sanitation)."

With approximately 40 percent of its customers coming into the facility via semi-tractor trailer, Bucholz said space issues will be a challenge.

"We don't have enough room right now for a semi to turn around," he said. "Taking another 50 feet will make it even worse."

While Bucholz raised concerns with MnDOT's expansion plans during public meetings in Worthington, the final plans for the highway and service road did not address his issues.

In fact, he pointed out Wednesday night that the service road MnDOT will install stops 10 feet from Worthington Ag Parts' property.

"Business-wise, without an access it's going to be difficult," said Bucholz.

Planning Commission member Bob Demuth Jr., said he didn't agree with the state's decision about the four-lane and service road design.

"We're willing to work with you to create any advantage we can," Demuth said. "I think this creates a hardship for your business."

While Bucholz doesn't expect anything to be done about the plans -- MnDOT awarded the construction project last Friday -- he was more interested in getting a list of requirements from the Planning Commission as he maps out the changes that will need to be made at the site.

"I want to know what is going to be required of us so I can plan," he said. "I don't want to take bids for an 8-foot fence if I'm going to need a 12-foot fence.

"When I do the planning and building, I want to do it right the first time," he added.

Smith will continue to work with Bucholz on the requirements, while Commission members requested Smith to also take the issue regarding the service road and Minnesota 60 access to the Nobles County Board for further discussion.

"You could recommend to the county that you don't think this is business friendly," Smith said.

Commission member Larry Hyink said MnDOT should have at least allowed highway access at each end of the service road, and Bucholz said that was what he had proposed during the public hearings on the expansion.

"It's impacting industry and it's going against what we set up a long time ago of how we thought it should be done," added James Gruye of the design. He said he served on the Planning Commission years ago, when the setback requirements were determined for businesses that located along Minnesota 60 on Worthington's south side.

Site approved for

concrete mix plant

The Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit Wednesday night for Mortenson Construction and enXco, both of Minneapolis, to construct a lay down yard, including construction offices and a concrete mix plant, in the south half of the southeast quarter of Section 23, Summit Lake Township. The operation will be on land owned by Eldon Ponto.

The action taken by the commission led to the withdrawal of Mortenson's original request to locate the plant in the northeast quarter of Section 6, Dewald Township. Several issues had been raised regarding that site during the commission's meeting a month ago, most of which centered on safety. The site was located at the top of a hill, with an access point that would not have been clearly visible to oncoming traffic.

Commission members were satisfied with the alternate site offered on the Ponto property, and identified three conditions -- that the operation of the concrete mix plant be limited to daylight hours, that the company be responsible for maintaining dust control and that neighbors be kept informed of what is taking place at the site and on the project.

No public comment was taken during the hearing, although Environmental Services director Wayne Smith read letters from Planning Commission chair Mike Hoeft and Public Works director Stephen Schnieder, neither of whom attended the meeting.

Hoeft suggested the three conditions that commission members ultimately approved, while Schnieder wrote in his letter that two temporary accesses on Nobles County 14 should be sufficient for the site. Mortenson Construction had requested three accesses.

"It would be nice to separate the concrete flow -- it would be nice to make a loop," said Tom Badgely, of Mortenson Construction. "If that's not in the cards, we can work with it. If we could have three, that would be great. If we could have two, well, OK."

Mortenson representatives were agreeable to the conditions placed on the permit. Final approval of the site will be requested from the Board of Commissioners at its May 4 meeting in the board room of the Nobles County Government Center.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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