Ridgeview, Good Sam site plans receive approval

Site plans for two major building projects received approval by the Waconia City Council during its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 18. The projects are for Ridgeview Medical Center and Good Samaritan Society.
Ridgeview is planning a two-story vertical expansion to the Ridgeview Professional Building, which is located at 560 Maple Street. The expansion will result in 41,070 square feet of new space. Ridgeview is in the process of recruiting an adequate number of tenants to make the project financially feasible but officials are optimistic as the building had 100 percent occupancy when it first opened in the mid-2000s.
At the earliest, the project could begin this summer but it’s possible that the start may be delayed until spring 2015. In either case, the project is not expected to interfere with the Highway 5 project that’s slated to start in 2015. During the project, a crane will be located in between the building and Highway 5 to the south.
With the expanded floor space, the project requires the addition of 206 parking spaces. To fulfill this, Ridgeview is planning to add 456 new parking spaces on land it owns along the west side of Cherry Street. Only 206 of the proposed 456 parking spaces need to be initially constructed. In addition, a mid-block pedestrian crossing is being proposed across Cherry Street to connect the Ridgeview campus with the new parking lot.
Ridgeview is also proposing to construct a covered walkway to provide protection from the weather through the parking lot directly west of the hospital out to the new parking lot.
Good Samaritan Society, located at 433 and 333 5th Street W, is planning to construct a three-story, 34,000 addition that will provide 32 new private resident rooms and allow conversion of the existing double rooms into private rooms within its existing three-story Long Term Care building. The net effect will be a decrease of four licensed beds and an increase in the number of private rooms in the Skilled Nursing Facility.
The addition will also provide an updated therapy suite, allowing existing space to be reconfigured for administrative offices, staff break room, storage and lobby space. It will also provide a small enclosed parking area to mitigate winter weather for visitors and residents.
In total, the existing site has 146 existing parking spaces and the new site will have 168 spaces, which will meet the requirements. New parking spaces will be located on the site’s far west end. In addition, a sidewalk will be constructed on the east side of Cherry Street and the south side of 5th Street.
Good Samaritan Society plans to construct the project in phases, starting with the remodeling of part of the existing first floor in March. Construction on the addition should begin in September and be completed by June 2015. Remodeling of the existing building will continue with the project being completed in February 2016.
The council approved three variance requests associated with the project. Two of the requests were related to the location of a trash enclosure and a cardboard baler enclosure. The other request allowed for the construction of a tunnel that would link Good Samaritan Society with Ridgeview Medical Place.
City council members expressed excitement regarding both the Ridgeview and Good Samaritan projects.
Also during the meeting, Mark Nordlund, a developer with the Caribou Coffee / Bruegger’s Bagels site at the corner of highways 5 and 284, asked the council to consider waiving the sewer and trunk fees, an amount totaling $7,340.
The Met Council has determined that the site has six Sewer Availability Charge (SAC) units. According to the Met Council, a SAC is a one-time fee imposed by MCES to customer communities for each new connection or increase in capacity demand of the Metropolitan Disposal System.
The customer communities may pass the SAC fee along with possible local fees to the building or property owners. The SAC fee is usually assigned when a building permit is issued for either a new building or a remodeling permit or when a connection permit is issued for an existing building connecting to the sanitary sewer system for the first time.
According to Nordlund, the developer has already paid five SAC units and associated trunk charges for the site. He disputes the Met Council’s determination of six SAC units, which he says are based on an inaccurate evaluation of the actual number of seats that will be utilized in the building. Nordlund is working with the Met Council to try to change the building’s SAC determination but he has not had any luck so far.
Nordlund said the building’s water use is more comparable to a bar or coffee shop, which traditionally have two SAC units, as opposed to an actual restaurant, which has six SAC units. As they’ve already paid for five SAC charges, he feels the additional charge is excessive based on the expected amount of water usage.
Council members were somewhat sympathetic to Nordlund’s challenges with the Met Council and discussion briefly touched on the idea of a possible refund for the sixth SAC charge if the building’s water usage proved lower than expected after a year, for example. In the end, however, the council unanimously denied the waiver, as it would contradict the policy they’ve always followed regarding Met Council SAC determinations.
Council members noted that other businesses would likely not appreciate them approving the request and would possibly ask the city to reconsider their SAC charges.
On a side note, Nordlund said the building’s exterior is finished and they are currently working on the interior.
In other matters:
• The council approved the design of the 2014 Infrastructure Improvement Project and authorized the project for bid. The action does not mean the project itself has been approved. It was simply the next step in the process to continue to gather the information needed for the council to eventually determine if the project will proceed.
Bids are expected to be opened and reviewed in March. The council may consider approval of the project at its April 7 meeting. If approved, the improvements would occur from May to August with an assessment hearing happening in October or November.
• It’s not too late to participate in the inaugural Break the Ice Fun 5K, which is set for Saturday, March 1.
The run starts and finishes at Safari Island. Participants will leave Safari Island at 9 a.m. and return by approximately 10:15 a.m. It’s $5 to pre-register (registration form available at www.waconia.org) or one can register on the day of the run for free with the donation of old/new shoes for Soles4Souls, a global non-profit institution dedicated to fighting the impact and perpetuation of poverty.
• The council accepted the voluntary resignation of firefighter Steve Wert, who has served on the Waconia Fire Department for 25 years after joining in 1988. Wert served as a Training Lieutenant for two years and a Ladder Captain for six years. The city plans to formally recognize Wert at the council meeting set for March 3. The fire department is currently recruiting this and other vacant positions on the department.
• Sheriff Jim Olson and Sgt. Mark Williams gave a presentation about crime trends and overall calls for service in Waconia from 2009 to 2013 along with plans to combat crime in 2014. More details about this presentation will be featured in a future edition of the Patriot.
• The city received a grant from the Office of the Secretary of State for Election Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities in the amount of $7,032. The funds were used to purchase eight election booths that each feature four voting stations that are accessible to voters with disabilities as well as those who are able bodied. Both of the city’s voting locations will receive four booths, meaning each location now has 16 new voting stations.
• Nathan Vilmain was appointed to the open alternate seat on the Planning Commission.
• Two businesses were approved to take part in the city’s Revolving Loan Program.
A $17,500 loan was approved for Betty Covington-Nego, who currently operates the Keepers of Waconia variety store in the commercial building at 524 Elm Street S. The funds will help Covington-Nego expand the variety store so it can include a dollar store, along with other site improvements.
A $149,999 loan was approved for Paul Bunn, who is looking to purchase the building at 209 1st Street W and remodel the space to house several different businesses, including his own business, TechStar Solutions.
• After reviewing a request from Summer Everslage, owner of Salon Trende, who is moving her business from 542 Elm Street S to One Main Street, the city has approved the creation of two ADA compliant parking spaces near the intersection of Main and Elm streets. Although one of the new spaces will result in the loss of one angle parking space on the west side of Elm Street, city officials still felt the move was beneficial not only to Salon Trende but to other nearby businesses because of the current lack of ADA spaces in the vicinity.
• The council approved a contract with CivicsPlus, a nationally recognized firm that specializes in government website design and content management, that will result in the redesign of the city website in the coming year.
New, improved, or more efficient features may include an agenda center, media integration, calendar, Citizen Request Tracker, facility reservations, online job applications, and others. The new website will be designed to ensure the same functionality regardless of whether one is visiting via PC, tablet or phone.
• The council adopted a number of 2014 Legislative Priorities, issues that will be followed closely by the city and/or the positions of the city council will be shared. It is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all issues important to the community but a list of priorities for the organization. The priorities focus on transportation, economic development, natural resources, water supply issues, and sales taxes.
• The council approved several amendments to the Financial Policy & Guidelines. The amendments were related to fund balance designations, the inventory record procedure, and minor changes to the capitialization / deprecation schedule.
• The council held a meeting with the Waconia School Board on Monday, Feb. 24 to talk about facilities / field use.
The council’s next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 3.