City Council Okays Plans for Cricket Fields Near Oak Crest Indoor Firing Ranges to be a Permitted Use in City by Dan Ruud.
Two weeks after okaying the annexation of 10 acres from Belle Plaine Township for the project, the Belle Plaine City Council Monday night unanimously approved the site plan, preliminary plat and comprehensive plan amendment for a privately-funded cricket field complex east of Oak Crest Elementary School.
Project engineer Paul Otto and Sabyasachi Sengupta of Chaska, the latter of whom recently purchased the 10-acre site from Ewald and Adella Gruetzmacher, addressed the council during the public hearing. They explained that plans for the complex call for two regulation-size cricket fields and a youth field. Also included will be parking and viewing areas. Future plans call for a 5,000-square-foot clubhouse and a dome over the youth field.
“There is a lot of money going into this,” Otto said.
Construction of the complex, which will be called Tatiana Fields, is proposed to begin this year. Sengupta said the complex will be named after his late wife, who died of cancer in October of 2015. She was 40 yards old.
Sengupta said he plans to bring in cricket players/teams from the metro area, Canada and elsewhere to play in games and tournaments at the complex. He also wants to work with the school district and community education, etc. to make the complex accessible to local youth. The youth field will be multi-purpose in that soccer and lacrosse will be played on it as well, while field one will be used almost entirely for cricket. Field two will be multi-purpose but not as much so as the youth field.
Wayne Schmidt, who owns property adjacent to where the complex will be built, told the council that he’s supportive of the project but would like to make sure that proper fencing is installed.
Cricket is a bat and ball game played on a circular field between two teams of eleven players who score runs (points) by running between posts called wickets. Each of the wickets is at one end of a rectangle of flattened grass called the pitch.
Sengupta said cricket is the second-most popular sport in the “world” behind soccer, and is one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S. According to Topend Sports, Field hockey is No. 3 and tennis is No. 4 worldwide.
The site plan for Tatiana Fields is published on page 9.
In other business Monday night, the council unanimously approved an amendment to the city ordinance that will allow for indoor firing ranges in the city.
Staff reported that in December members of the city’s planning and zoning commission began discussing indoor firing ranges following an inquiry to one of its members.
“At this time, indoor firing ranges are not specifically provided for within city code, as they are deemed prohibited,” reported Community Development Director Cynthia Smith Strack.
She added that the planning and zoning commission reviewed zoning standards in communities with indoor firing ranges, including Chanhassen, Burnsville and Robbinsdale, along with sample code language from the cities of Jordan and St. Joseph.
Smith Strack said the Belle Plaine Planning and Zoning Commission found that indoor firing ranges “under a conditional use permit in business and industrial zones may be appropriate and provide for economic opportunity that is currently disallowed.”
Council Member Cary Coop asked Police Chief Tom Stolee about his thoughts on allowing indoor firing ranges in the city. Stolee said he has no concerns with the new ordinance and its conditions.
Smith Strack said the city has not been contacted by anyone interested in building an indoor firing range in Belle Plaine at this time, but rather the planning and zoning commissioners just felt that it’s best the city have an ordinance in place if and when a proposal is made.
No one spoke at the public hearing that preceded the council’s vote.
*Unanimously approved an ordinance that will require a license for commercial tree contractors to do business within Belle Plaine’s city limits. The public works committee had recommended approval of the new ordinance. In part, the ordinance states:
“It shall be unlawful for any individual, partnership or corporation to conduct as a business the cutting, trimming, pruning, removal, spraying or otherwise treating of trees in the city without having first secured a license from the city to conduct such a business. Licenses issued under this section shall expire on Dec. 31 of each year.”
No one spoke at the public hearing that preceded the council’s vote.
*Unanimously approved an ordinance pertaining to site plan reviews. Staff reported that new multiple family, commercial and industrial structures require submission of site and associated plans for review by the planning and zoning commission and council, which can “easily add 60 days” to the development review process.
The commission recommended, and the council concurs, that an administrative site plan review take place as a means of streamlining the review process. Developments requiring platting, conditional or interim use permit issuance, rezoning or variance approval will still be reviewed by the council and commission.
*Unanimously authorized staff to seek bids for the city’s 2017 seal coat project. City Administrator Michael Votka reported that $90,000 has been allocated for the project.
*Unanimously approved a request by Michele McLellan for a Restoration, Opportunity, Sustainability and Enterprise (ROSE) program loan for Salon 129 at 129 North Meridian Street downtown. The estimated cost of the project, which will include front building wall repair and other improvements, is $1,495.89. The loan, which is for $750, will be forgiven if McLellan remains in business on the property for at least one year following the disbursement of funds or transfers ownership of the business to another entity that maintains the business in the improved building for at least one year.
*City Administrator Michael Votka said he attended a U.S. Highway 169 Corridor Coalition meeting on March 9. Among the topics discussed that directly impact Belle Plaine was the Land to Air Express in Mankato, which has received a grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) to conduct a pilot project that will transport people from Mankato to Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, with stops along the way. One of the planned stops, which could be implemented this May, is at McDonald’s in Belle Plaine.
Also at the meeting, Votka reported that an overview of the Highway 169 overlay project was given by Diane Langenbach, area engineer for Mn/DOT. She stated that Highway 169 between Jordan and Highway 19 in Henderson will occur in 2018. She added that there will be a couple of crossover lanes constructed this summer near Belle Plaine for the project but should have little impact on traffic.
The next regular meeting of the Belle Plaine City Council is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 3 in the City Hall building at 218 North Meridian Street downtown.