Planning board recommends CUP for new school

North Crailsheim Road is pictured early Thursday evening just south of the Learning Center building. District 518 plans to construct its intermediate school on land shown at right. (Ryan McGaughey/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — Approval of a conditional use permit for the new Independent District 518 intermediate school was recommended by the Worthington Planning Commission during its Tuesday evening meeting.

The commission voted 5-1 in support of the CUP, which next goes to the Worthington City Council for formal consideration. The council is expected to take up the matter during its Sept. 14 meeting.

During the planning commission’s Aug. 4 meeting, a public hearing was opened on the CUP, but it was decided to table the application until the commission’s next meeting. That action was taken as a result of concerns about traffic in the area and on site that were supposed to be addressed by a traffic study that had yet to be completed.

Worthington City Planner Jeremiah Cromie told the commission Tuesday that the traffic study is now finished and distributed to city staff. Right- and left-turn lanes off of North Crailsheim Road are warranted for the proposed southerly entrance to the intermediate school, Cromie explained, and the circulation/design on the school property would have sufficient area for stacking and parking.

“The traffic study at this time did not address future speed limits or kids/parents walking/biking to the school in the area,” Cromie added.


Planning commission member Ben Weber expressed concern about the status of the future speed limits, and cast the lone “no” vote against the CUP. Also noted was a current lack of turn lanes on North Crailsheim Road; those would ultimately be approved by the Nobles County Board of Commissioners.

Cromie said the county board discussed turning lanes during an Aug. 26 work session, and that “there was general consensus of support to start the design work now” to allow for them, as well as potential crosswalks and storm sewers in the area. These designs would need to be ready in time for construction in 2022, Cromie said. A formal decision is expected by the county board during its meeting next Tuesday.

The recommendation to approve the CUP was the only formal action taken Tuesday by the commission, but multiple other matters were discussed. Among those were possible changes to the city’s off-street parking requirements, a subject for which commission members requested specific proposals during their August meeting.

Cromie said Tuesday the city staff intends to suggest new off-street parking requirements that include changing retail uses from one per 200 square feet to one per 300 square feet. More categories could also be added to the requirements, including:

  • Dance studios/gyms/assembly occupancies without fixed seating to one space per 300 square feet or one space per four persons of the maximum occupancy load, whichever is greater.

  • Drive-thru Facilities: at least three off-street stacking spaces per drive-thru lane (stacking spaces can’t block parking spaces).

  • Outdoor recreation facilities parking requirements shall be determined by review of the planning commission and city council.

  • Other uses not mentioned shall be determined by the planning commission.

Other possible modifications to off-street parking requirements include striping that shall be maintained in a clear and visible manner, as well as 22- to 24-foot width access aisles for two-way traffic.
Planning commission members discussed the need for some of the new requirements, particularly when history hasn’t shown there to be any issues. It was argued, though, that having clear rules in place can eliminate the possibility of future conflicts.

The recommendations will be discussed at a future city council meeting to garner input from elected officials.

Also discussed during Tuesday’s planning commission meeting were current city regulations pertaining to inoperable vehicles, as well as possible changes in how storage buildings and accessory buildings are defined.

“Staff has considered all the storage buildings to fall under the definition of warehouse in


our code,” Cromie told commissioners. “Warehouse in our code is currently defined as ‘wholesale warehouse and motor freight terminals.’ Staff would like to see this changed, as the definition does not fit very well.”

Cromie said storage sheds “that are accessory to the main use and incidental to the use” have been allowed by the city, and that direction is being sought on how to move forward with these. One possibility could be a limit on accessory structures/size and how those should be


Ryan McGaughey arrived in Worthington in April 2001 as sports editor of The Daily Globe, and first joined Forum Communications Co. upon his hiring as a sports reporter at The Dickinson (North Dakota) Press in November 1998. McGaughey became news editor in Worthington in November 2002 and editor in August 2006.
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