Target store proposal, 1998

Government.51.3: Griff Wigley (griff) Tue, 29 Sep 1998 23:20:49
Greetings, everyone. The online forum to discuss the Target proposal is about to begin.

First, I’d like the panelists to introduce yourselves briefly, including a little bit about your history with Northfield (newcomer? oldtimer?) and your involvement in the Target issue.

Panelists are (please note the change — Dan Zawack instead of Mary Andrzejeski):

- Jim Ashman, president of Northfield’s EDA (Economic Development
Authority)
- Ray Cox, president of Northfield Industrial Corporation,
member of the Nfld school board, owner of Nfld Construction Co.
- Margit Johnson, Planning Commission Chair, League of Women
Voters member
- Scott Neal, Northfield City Administrator
- Bill Rossman, Northfield Mayor
- Dan Zawack, Bridgewater Township resident

Second, I’d like the panelists to address the issue of where you think the community is at in terms of the decision-making process. Many people are assuming that it’s a done deal, ie, the Northfield City Council has, for all intents and purposes, decided that they want the Target proposal to move ahead.

After we have a few exchanges among you, the panelists, I’ll open up the discussion to the “audience” of citizens lurking in the shadows. ;-)

Griff Wigley
Forum Moderator

NOTE:
This topic will remain “read-only” for the audience till panelists have had a chance to post and interact a bit. Topic:BridgeSquare.50 will remain open for informal audience discussion throughout the duration of the forum.

Government.51.4: Griff Wigley (griff) Wed, 30 Sep 1998 17:59:26
While we’re waiting for the panelists to post their intro remarks (I spoke to all them tonight, so expect to see something shortly), I thought I’d post a few friendly tips about forum protocol for all participants here, both panelists and audience:

- avoid lengthy posts, ie, anything longer than a screenful or two. It’s the equivalent of standing up in a living room conversation and giving a lecture. If you do have a long piece, eg, an article, put it in a “hidden” post, explaining in a separate post what it’s all about.

- use lots of white space, ie, paragraph returns, to make your posts easier for others to read. Paragraphs should be no longer than 8-10 lines, preferably shorter…. even if it violates what you were taught in grammar class.

- since we might be discussing several issues “simultaneously” here, all piled in one topic, learn to make use of the linking ability of the software, especially the word “post”. For example: “Scott, you talked about your background in post:3. Could you….” See how just typing the word “post” with a colon and number after it automatically creates a link? Cool, eh? It helps others to know what you’re talking about and makes it easy for them to follow the link back to see what was actually posted. It won’t link for those following by email but at least they’ll be able to reference the previous post.

- This forum could likely become debate-oriented so just in case there is some controversy, here’s a gentle but firm tip: avoid personal attacks on others who disagree with you. Also: 1) avoid sarcasm; and 2) use people’s first name when referring to someone else who’s participating here. Avoid saying, for example, “Jim seems to be the type of guy who always….” It’s insulting. So try to talk (write) as if others are right here in a room with you. “Jim, you seem to always be…”

I’ll assess reasonably small fines to offenders. ;-)

Government.51.5: Margit Johnson via NCO-Discuss ) Wed, 30 Sep 1998 22:21:34
Hi, this is Margit Johnson, chair of the Northfield Planning Commission and member of what promises to be a lively panel discussion about the Target proposal.

I “formally” moved to Northfield in 1970, so that makes me a 28 year veteran. I have served on the Planning Commission for 4 years.

I first heard about Dayton Hudson’s proposal to Northfield in late April when it was first announced in the Northfield News. I did some homework during May, calling city planners in other communities with and without large-scale retail stores, to learn more about the prospects. Mid-June a representative from Dayton Hudson presented an overview of their proposal to the city council and the Planning Commission, including a then 90,000 square foot Target and several other retail stores.

Before I left for 6 weeks of work and vacation Down Under on July 1st, I heard that Dayton Hudson had re-evaluated the market and opted for a 120,000 square foot building. When I returned mid-August an EAW had been prepared and began its 30-day public review for a project totaling 245,000 square feet.

In my absence the Planning Commission did not deal with the Target proposal or the direction from the City Council to review the Comprehensive Plan in any way, short of receiving a schedule of actions needed for the proposed project.

On September 14th, the Planning Commission met in a joint work session with the City Council for the first time since mid-June to discuss BRW’s issue paper on large-scale retail in Northfield. Later that evening we held an hour and a half public hearing on the EAW, collecting public input for the City Council to review.

On September 28th, the Commission began working on amending the Comprehensive Plan to include language that would define and direct a Highway Business District, including a Planned Development Zone as an overlay zone to accommodate retail stores catering to the general public and situated outside the Central Business District. While we are still wrestling with some of the specific language, we will open a public hearing on October 12th to discuss further a Highway Business District.

That’s where the Planning Commission is right now.

Government.51.6: Griff Wigley (griff) Wed, 30 Sep 1998 22:28:46
Hi Margaret, thanks for being the first panelist to chime in, and giving us your Planning Commission perspective on this. You can take the rest of the night off. ;-)

Government.51.7: Griff Wigley (motet) Thu, 01 Oct 1998 05:49:25
As of this morning, we have 46 people in the audience in the Web Cafe and another 25 following along via the NCO-Discuss listserv.

I’ll do a frequent update of the ongoing transcript of this discussion at:

http://nco.northfield.mn.us/html/target_proposal.html

Government.51.8: Daniel Zawack via Pub-Discuss Thu, 01 Oct 1998 08:42:46
My family and I moved to Bridgewater Township in December of 1997, having some familiarity with the area because we are St Olaf Alumni. We selected this area because we wanted to be in a place where neighbors work together to build community. It also provided the advantage of being away from the noise, traffic and congestion of the city. Currently, we are concerned about the consequences of the upcoming decision on the proposed Target shopping center.

When I was studying for my Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University I was fortunate enough to hear faculty member, economist and Nobel Laureate Herb Simon lecture about decision making. In the 1940s he had done some of the early research on decision making. He developed a model, which delineates the elements of a decision. The premises for a decision can be broken down into two categories. These are values and facts. We gather facts and then apply our values in order to arrive at a decision. Every time we buy something we consider the price, the fact, and use our personal values to determine if it is worth it to us. Everyone in Northfield has a set of values they will apply to the Target decision. In order to apply their values appropriately they need the facts that relate to their values. I am hopeful that this forum will provide many of the facts that Northfield residents are seeking in order to make an informed decision on the Target shopping center.

I want to express my appreciation to Griff Wigley for taking his personal time and energy to make this forum possible. I complement each participant in this forum for taking their personal time to help inform the community.

One of the oft-stated purposes of the Target shopping center is growth. In order to understand the impacts of Target on the future growth of our community answers to the following are essential. The answers are facts that I would expect the city leaders, staff and/or EDA to have readily available as part of the basis for recommendations to move forward on the project. The first four questions relate to the four cornerstones of economic foundation of Northfield.

* The Northfield community is strengthened when it exports products, not dollars. The proposed shopping complex will export a disproportionate share of customer dollars rather than retain customer dollars within the city. What benefits are gained/lost for each dollar that will leave the city?

* How will the proposed shopping mall support existing businesses?

* How will a Target mall initiate local enterprise?

* What attributes of the Target mall make it compatible with the current business base?

* What is the current level of disposable income in Northfield? What is the growth rate of disposable income? What is the expected impact of Target on disposable income?

* What is the current level of retail sales in Northfield? What is the growth rate of retail sales? What is the expected level of retail sales of the Target store?

* What is the current level of traffic in the central business district? What is the growth rate? What is the predicted level of traffic after the Target construction?

* What is the unemployment rate in Northfield? How many jobs will Target bring to the community broken down by annual salary?

* What is the projected property tax of the Target shopping center? This needs to be broken down by year as a function of the building schedule. What is the breakdown of these tax revenues by agency that will receive the funds? How much will go to the city, school district, county, Bridgewater, etc. and to what accounts. What is the percentage impact on revenues for each of these agencies? Will these revenues translate into tax relief for local residents or new programs?

* There appears to be a significant amount of housing construction currently underway or planned for the very near future. What is currently attracting these people to Northfield? Will Target negatively or positively impact these people?

* What are the projected impacts to law enforcement requirements?

* What the projected impacts to fire protection?

* When will highway 3 and Rice County 1 need to be widened?

* What will be the impacts of this and future development on the Cannon River which has been designated a unique resource to the area?

* The Northfield Comprehensive Plan designates the property Target has selected as Highway Business. This definition specifically prohibits department stores, discount department stores, and shopping centers from the property. This definition was developed based on extensive study and recommendation by a consulting firm that the city continues to work with. What environmental or socioeconomic conditions have changed that provide a rational for overriding that designation? Is there a new comprehensive land use plan that explains the change?

Government.51.9: Griff Wigley (griff) Thu, 01 Oct 1998 08:47:23
Hi Dan, thanks for joining us. I won’t expect anyone to tackle answering all those provocative questions in one chunk, so be sure to look for a timely time and place to direct one or two at a time to one or more of your colleague panelists over the course of the next week.

Government.51.11: Griff Wigley (griff) Thu, 01 Oct 1998 13:43:51
AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!

My apologies to Bill Rossman and Scott Neal… and to those of you in the audience who’ve been waiting patiently. They both tried to post yesterday and today but I’d forgotten to “flip” the right software switch that would allow them to post here.

Alas, Bill had to leave town at 1 pm today and won’t be back till Monday.

Government.51.12: Raymond Cox (ray) Thu, 01 Oct 1998 22:01:13
Hello to everyone, and thank you for allowing me to be part of this discussion. A bit about myself: I am a long time Northfield resident, from grade school through College. I have had a long interest in planning issues, and served on the Northfield Planning Commission for several years in the early 1980′s. I have been a member of the Northfield Board of Education for approximately 12 years. I also serve on the Board of Directors of the Northfield Industrial Corporation. I have worked in the general construction business since 1972, and own and operate Northfield Construction Company.

I am married to a great woman, Ellen Cox, and have three children. My son attends Luther College in Iowa. I have a daughter in 11th grade and a daughter in 9th grade. I get my civic interest from my mother, Marjorie Cox, who is active in many areas in Northfield.

I have been somewhat frustrated with the whole Target issue, and how the City has elected to handle it, or rather, not handle it. I prefer to see the City guide the planning and development of such a significant event, rather than sit back and do what they are told. I do not understand how the City could even hint that they would be willing to: 1. annex the site 2. ammend the comprehensive plan 3. re-zone the site 4. plan roads 5. plan utility extensions 6. and on and on without taking care to obtain thoughtful and significant public opinion about such a proposal.

I personally feel that if the Target store is to come to Northfield then the City should do all they can to locate it in the current city limits. Such a shopping facility needs to be part of the town, not an entity on the edge of town. A Target near the ice arena or River Valley Clinic would be in town and would stand alone as another shopping option in Northfield. A Target on the proposed site will create a shopping destination away from Northfield.

I don’t think it is fair to ask Northfield to “freeze” in time and not change or grow. But it is fair to ask City officials and staff to conduct a thorough analysis of significant proposals. That should include understanding community desires, preparing cost vs. benefit studies, examining traffic problems, etc.

Government.51.13: Griff Wigley (griff) Thu, 01 Oct 1998 22:26:04
Hey, Ray, welcome aboard. Good to have someone with your longtime civic involvement participating here.

Government.51.14: Griff Wigley (griff) Thu, 01 Oct 1998 23:10:10
Some people have asked me to put up Mayor Rossman’s May thru September comments from the BridgeSquare conference all in one big pile on a web page… and so, I’ve done it. Of course, the comments are taken out of context — he’s responding to questions and criticisms in some instances — but for the most part, it’s pretty easy to follow.

http://nco.northfield.mn.us/html/rossman.html

Government.51.16: Scott Neal (scott) Fri, 02 Oct 1998 11:35:40
My name is Scott Neal. I moved to Northfield in 1996 when I accepted the City Administrator position with the City of Northfield. Like many of you, my move to Northfield was intentional. I moved here for the community first, and the job second.

The Target issue has been a very emotional issue for the City and for our rural neighbors. As an organization, we have been trying to handle the Target project as we would any other development project, while at the same time, recognizing that it is a fundamental shift away from a long held community value – the absolute centrality of the city’s central business district.

If we are to make a shift away from this absolute, it should be done slowly and with thoughtful consideration. I don’t think that anyone would argue with that.

I will do my best to speak to issues in a factual way. Thanks to the panelists and to Griff for setting up this forum.

Government.51.17: Griff Wigley (griff) Fri, 02 Oct 1998 13:22:42
Hi Scott, glad you could make it. You’ve got a tough but interesting little project on your lap. ;-)

Could you give us some details on the milestones and timelines for the “process”, ie, the input and decision-making steps for the planning commission, the council, and the public? I’m still confused and I attended the forum at Bridgewater school last night.

Government.51.18: Scott Neal (scott) Fri, 02 Oct 1998 14:48:55
The Process for making the necessary changes to accommodate Target’s proposal are as follows:

EAW: There was an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) prepared. There was a 30 comment period of rhte public to review the document and make written comments. There was also a public hearing held at the Planning Commission on September 14th.

Annexation: Community Development Director Joel West and I appeared at the June and July 1998 meetings of the Bridgewater Township Board meeting to provide informationto the Board on the proposed annexation of the Paul Hanson property into the City for the Target site. Eventually, a joint resolution approving the annexation will be presented to both the City Council and the Bridgewater Twp. Board. Both bodies must approve the resolution in public meetings. When the resolution is approved, it is forwarded to the State Municipal Board for final review and approval. Because the proposed annexation is smaller than 60 acres and because 100% of the property owners of the site desire annexation, the annexation, for all intents and purposes, is automatic.

Concept Plan: The City will negotiate a Conceptual Development Plan for the site with Target. The City and Target must agree on the Concept Plan prior to annexation. The Annexation is contingent upon the approval of the Concept Plan. There is a required public hearing on the Concept Plan at the Planning Commission.

Comprehensive Plan Amendment: The City’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan must be changed to reflect the new plan for this property – i.e. Target. The Planning Commission does the first review and recommendation of the comp plan amendment. The City Council ultimately approves it.

Zoning Text Amendment: The zoning text amendment is where we intende to develop the proposed Planned Development Zone (PDZ) language. The PDZ concept is the vehicle by which we believe we can regulate Target to look good and be good in the future. We also believe we will be able to use the PDZ to regulate the future growth of the Target commercial area in the future by placing upper limits on the total gross commerical sqft that could be there. The Planning Commission starts this process, while the City Council ends it. The process is done by ordinance, so there will be at least one public hearing at the Planning Commission and one by the City Council.

Platting: Finally, there will be the regular process of preliminary and final platting the area. This process involves one public hearing at the Planning Commission.

And that’s it!

Government.51.19: Raymond Cox (ray) Sun, 04 Oct 1998 08:25:31
It is good to see questions and answers starting to come in. Like Griff, I also attended the public forum at Bridgewater on Thursday. I too was still confused about some of the process being dicussed.

Scott or Bill, could you answer a couple of basic questions:

1. In most of the presentations you have indicated that City representatives talked to various boards, ie. Scott and Bill went to Bridgewater Township meetings, etc. Why is the City contacting and meeting with the various boards and commissions rather than the current land owner? Shouldn’t the landowner, or if there is a purchase agreement in place that authorizes the future owner to act on behalf of the current landowner, be doing the initial “legwork” for this project? I don’t see the City stepping in and doing all the work for our other many development projects.

2. Will the PDZ you are wanting to create to permit the Target to legally be allowed in this zone be applied to other commercial zones

Government.51.20: Margit Johnson via NCO-Discuss Sun, 04 Oct 1998 11:54:00
One of my concerns, as we consider the Dayton Hudson proposal for a Target shopping center, which I would like Jim Ashman, Bill Rossman and Scott Neal in particular to address is this:

Dayton Hudson has conducted an extensive market analysis of the Northfield area to determine that this is the right location for them, and a built-out project of 245,000 square feet is the right amount for them to make a profit.

What does Northfield know about location, size, or retail mix to know what is right for the community? When I concurred with the BRW consultant at the Sept. 14th work session that we should know our Central Business District (CBD) square footage and how that compares to our Highway Business District (HBD, proposed), Bill Rossman and Phil Hanson thought that would be more study than we need, and more time wasted. On Sept. 24th Bill posted, “I can see a study that could take many months and provide few answers.”

How do we know what’s good for Northfield? We have no cost/benefit analysis tools with which to compare a private developer’s projections with our own. The Red Wing city planner told me that city had determined, based on an analysis of their business district, that they needed an additional 90,000-100,000 square feet of retail business contiguous with their downtown. They were already in that pro-active stance when Dayton Hudson approached them four years ago with a 90,000 square foot Target proposal. It filled their square footage needs, but the City of Red Wing could not afford the costs of vacating two and one half blocks with the associated infrastructure needed. So they turned down Dayton Hudson’s proposal.

I’m not saying we should turn down Dayton Hudson. I’m saying we should position ourselves proactively, so that we can come to the negotiating table with enough information about our own needs so that we “don’t give the store away,” so to speak. The Planning Commission is working on a proposal that would link the percentage of existing square footage in the CBD to that in the HBD, so that their respective growth would support one another. But we need to know what that square footage is!

A simple calculation is all we’re asking for. Dan Zawack’s more sophisticated questions deserve serious consideration, but for now we will settle for basic square footage.

Government.51.21: Scott Neal (scott) Mon, 05 Oct 1998 08:07:23
My understanding from what was done in Red Wing was that they did a market study very similar in scope and purpose to what the City did for the Presidential Commons housing project here in Northfield.

The purpose of our housing market study was NOT to see if the Presidnetial Commons project would impact other housing developments in the City. The purpose of the study was to see if the developer’s assumptions for the proposal were realistic enough to support the investment of public money directly into the project. The answer in this case is that they were.

The City of Red Wing was being asked to invest an enormous amount of public money into the Target project because the City of Red Wing wanted to tell Target exactly where to build their store. In our case, Target has not asked the City for any public money to build their store.

Would it be an interesting fact to know the proportion of commercial square footage in the Central Business District to the commercial square footage on south T.H. #3, or in the proposed Target development? Absolutely, yes. But, I could think of 150 other interesting statistical measures that I’d like to know about Northfield. Personnaly, I love statistics and studies of all types. I don’t get to spend nearly as much time on this type of knowledge acquisition in my job as I’d like to.

But, the acquisition of this information, the deciphering of the information, and its subsequent use as a policy development tool will take a long, long time.

And, when it’s all done, will the community likely agree on its interpretation? Remember, this is Northfield.

Government.51.22: Scott Neal via NCO-Discuss Mon, 05 Oct 1998 09:39:2
Ray, the Target project, if we are going to allow it, requires a fundamental change in our zoning ordinance. Could you imagine the furor if we just said to Target, “Hey, why don’t you guys just write something up for us.”? I can. I don’t think that would be very responsible of the City either.

The PDZ overlay will be designed to be applied to other commerical districts as well. Sometimes I think that landowners are envisioning this PDZ as though it will be some sort of “enterprise zone” where anything goes. That won’t be the case.

Government.51.23: Bill Rossman (war) Mon, 05 Oct 1998 17:57:09
Hi all, I’m back from my cabin and will try to handle a posting this evening after Council meeting.

Bill

Government.51.24: Raymond Cox (ray) Mon, 05 Oct 1998 18:46:29)
Scott, I do understand the basic work involved with creating a zone that is appropriate for Target. My question centers around how much work the City is doing for Target and the landowners. I don’t see this level of work being done for other developments in town…either commercial or residential developments. It seems most every statement made in the paper or radio centers around “…the City is proposing” or “the City plans” etc., etc. Where is the landowner in this equation?

I read a statement in the paper that quoted Target as saying things had slowed down in Northfield, and they were just planning to sit back and see if Northfield could get done those things that need to be done to permit the Target development. That is a very laid back attitude, if it is correct, and one that asks Northfield to do a lot of work for them…why are we doing that work, rather than try what Red Wing did and direct them where we want them to locate. I could endorse City work to get them on a City site. I have a problem with City work going into a project outside the City.

Government.51.25: Margit Johnson via NCO-Discuss Mon, 05 Oct 1998 19:04:29
I am sorry that I missed the League forum last Thursday, due to a previous work commitment. I hope to watch the videotape when it is available. Meanwhile, I’m thinking that it must have answered a number of questions, due to the somnabulent state of this on-line discussion.

However, I would like to follow up on Scott Neal’s Oct. 5th posting. The point of citing Red Wing as an example was not to imply that we are being asked to subsidize the Target proposal in some way, which I know we are not. Instead it was intended to point out that proactive municipal planning can be advantageous for a community’s development.

But Red Wing aside, the reason that a current calculation of square footage in the CBD and CBD fringe (C-1 and C-2 zones) goes beyond merely interesting to important is this: as the Planning Commission attempts to draft a new goal in the Comprehensive Plan, to define and describe a Highway Business District (HBD, which would include C-3 zoning), we are exploring a policy along these lines:

“Establish and maintain a ____ <60:40?> ratio of total commercial square footage in the Central Business District and the Highway Business District, respectively, to retain the primacy of the CBD as stated in Goal 3 and TO LINK THE GROWTH OF THE HBD TO THE GROWTH OF THE CBD .”

The EDA design workshop a week ago demonstrated that there is the real possibility of new and renewed growth in the C-1 and C-2 zones of the CBD, be it retail, office or service businesses. While we already have a “poly-centric” business district (Division St., Professional Drive and Hwy. 3), I still think Northfield would do best with the Central Business District as the PRIMARY business district, with the others as secondary or tertiary, supporting the CBD with additional land for needed commercial growth, which basically is goal #3 in the Comp Plan.

I would like to see the CBD as the “engine” that drives business development, with the HBD growing in proportion to the CBD. Without that ratio, cheaper land and cheaper development costs along Hwy. 3 could easily give rise to a highway business district that outruns the CBD in square footage, sales and economic viability.

All this is not to say that a general retail business could not be located on Hwy. 3 and benefit Northfield at the same time. It needs to be developed, however, within the context of the CBD.

Government.51.26: Bill Rossman (war) Tue, 06 Oct 1998 09:42:03
It seems curious to me that there is concern about dollars leaving Northfield as a result of having a regional mall in the area. Where do you think our retail dollars go now? Many go to Apple Valley and Burnsville, to the Mall of America and elsewhere. Not to Northfield. In fact, when shoppers leave our city to go to the burbs to shop at Target or another large retailer, they are also exposed to a variety of other stores anxious to attract them. A trip to the Target in Apple Valley or Burnsville can also result in additional shopping at Barnes & Noble, Menards, Cub Food and the like. Additionally, restaurant and entertainment opportunities abound.

These dollars, in particular, are dollars that could be attracted to our CBD provided our CBD is strong enough to attract them. Even assuming a zero sum increase in retail sales in our CBD as a result of a Target, what about these additional dollars that are migrating to the burbs?

I’ve asked Target for some info on how much money is spent by Nflders in the suburban Targets and for a formula that would give us a pretty good idea of how much is spent at other stores in the vicinity of the Targets. I hope to have this info tomorrow.

Incidentally, I also asked the point-blank question about the possibility of Target locating in Dundas if not in Nfld. The answer was “yes” they see it as a strong possibility. In fact, they’ve had conversations with developers there.

Government.51.28: Scott Neal (scott) Tue, 06 Oct 1998 12:29:34
Ray, your comments aren’t quite accurate about the City’s support of the Target proposal vs. the City’s support of other past projects.

The City, as an organization, is working on the various changes to accommodate the Target proposal because the City Council determined early on that this project was in the public’s interest. I would again say that it would be irresponsible to turn over to Target, or any other interested party, the responsibility for preparing changes to our Zoning Ordinance and other regulatory functions.

RE the City’s participation in other developments, the City has spent thousands of hours and dollars on the recent Hubers Subdivision. I might add that it was outside the City when we were expending our time and money helping it become a reality.

We are spending City staff time, and probably some public money somewhere down the line, on the development of the Bollenbacher site on South Highway #3, which you are directly aware of. We are spending City staff time and money in helping to put together a redevelopment of the block which is the site of the COOP grain elevator and the old Legion Club. I believe the City has dedicated at least $20,000 to putting together the basic land ownership and environmental information to assist the developers of this tract. I believe you are directly aware of this project as well.

Why are we assisting in the devleopment of these projects? Because the City Council believes they are in the public’s interest. Does the entire community agree on that the City should participate in these developments? I’d say No.

So why should the City do something unless every single person in the City agrees that it is indeed the right course of action? Because the City Council, in our representative democracy, is elected by the people of the City to make leadership decisions, and on these three devlepments, the Council had determined its position and instructed staff to go forward.

So, that’s what we, as City staff, will do.

Government.51.29: Bill Rossman (war) Tue, 06 Oct 1998 13:13:25
I concur, Scott, and don’t forget the Kump development and WestSide between 2nd and 3rd. Between these two projects the city is likely to spend in excess of $1 million dollars for site acquisition etc., all to help strengthen the CBD and to expand it across Hwy 3 (making our CBD what it was in the past). I believe it’s essential to keep the CBD strong and a focus of NFLD.

In fact, if we weren’t doing this, I’d be less enthusiastic about any big retailer on the highway. To some extent, this follows Margit’s theme, though I’m less concerned about the square footage question than the economic question. We have to realize that the big box retailer is likely to be doing a different kind of business than our downtown, and that downtown sales may not equal what is being done on Hwy 3.

And there’s the question of whether downtown should “keep up” with Hwy business in terms of size, etc. Isn’t one of the appealing qualities of downtown its compact, quaint character? Isn’t that what everyone wants to keep? I happen to see the “polycentric” question as not being a question of quantitiy of land devoted to retail, or quantity of sales done in each place–but more a question of can we have both–and to consider that there is a qualitative difference in both the locales and the type of merchandise available in each locale.

That is also why I tend to favor locating the big box retailer some distance from the CBD as opposed to contiguous to it. The CBD’s advantage, according to the experts (Dr. Ken Stone, for one) lies in exagerrating the differences between itself and the big box retailer–both in terms of product lines and ambience.

Government.51.30: Bill Rossman (war) Tue, 06 Oct 1998 19:20:47
If further study, or even more importantly, public opinion indicated that Target would be desirable in this community would [opponents] still hold that it would be a bad thing for Northfield?

I ask this question because most people are aware that all growth has hidden “costs,” that even with cost/benefit analysis we might find a project has value to the citizenry that make the costs “worth it.” If analysis is what’s important, why don’t we make an effort to determine how much retail business is done by Northfielders in the suburbs. Isn’t this a cost? What is our cost when new retail looks at Northfield and notices that most of the traffic is not on Division St. but on Hwy 19 or Hwy 3, heading north? How do we attract businesses to fill up vacancies on Division St.? How do we attract new restaurants?

In short, what retail traffic generator do we currently have that holds local shoppers, and invites others to shop here, too? How do you attract new industry, as well, if the city hasn’t got the amenities that workers and their families want? Ask yourself and others where they buy their clothes, their shoes, fishing and hunting gear, small appliances, etc. Ask where they recreate–where they go to dance, to see a movie, etc.

I think you might be surprised to find that everything that people want is not available here in Nfld. I happen to think that the single most important value of having a Target is to bring our shoppers home, and the single highest cost to our citizens is having to spend their retail dollars in another community.

Government.51.32: Griff Wigley (griff) Wed, 07 Oct 1998 00:10:04
Ray, Bill, Scott, Margit and Dan, you’re all doing admirably well. While you keep up the Q & A with one another, I’d like to invite questions and comments from the audience.

Audience members:

1. If you’re participating via the Web Cafe, send me an email message requesting “posting priveleges” for the forum. I’ll add your Cafe UserID to the list and then you’ll see a text box in this topic which will allow you to post.

2. If you’re participating via the NCO-Discuss listserv, just submit your post via email and I’ll cross-post it to the discussion.

NOTE: whenever possible, direct your comments to one or more of the panelists using the first person like the panelists have been doing, ie, “Bill, I’d like to ask you…”.

And of course, be on your best Minnesota Nice behavior. Be sure to remove any hint of sarcasm or condescension in your words. And remember, your opponents are your neighbors and you’ll want to have a genuine exchange of pleasantries when you see each other in the grocery store. Plus, they may be your allies on the next hot issue in town.

Government.51.33: Molly Woehrlin via NCO-Discuss Wed, 07 Oct 1998 00:14:40
Bill, EQC has sent a recommendation to the City Council urging them to request an Environomental Impact Study (EIS) due to the enormous size of the project, and the potential impact on the Cannon and surrounding area, both during construction and with so much paved over surface that will ensue.

An EIS can look at alternate solutions as well as analyze the social and economic impact. It would seem that such a large project would need such a study. How is the Council going to evaluate the need for an EIS? Would they consider doing it jointly with Bridgewater Township? At what point in the process would they recommend it be done?

Government.51.34: Scott Neal (scott) Wed, 07 Oct 1998 08:04:40
Ray, you ask why the City is being pro-active about its involvement in this project. I saw you at the LWV Forum last week. I heard that audience telling the City to WAY more involved than we already are. I heard Council Member Garwood DeLong take a shot at his own organization at the City Council meeting the other night that if we can get a bunch of architects to work up plans for the Kump site, then why aren’t we doing something similar for the Target site.

The problem here for the City is that it is getting criticized by some for being too pro-active and by others for not being pro-active enough. I’m satisfied that the City is still in that middle area.

Government.51.35: Scott Neal (scott) Wed, 07 Oct 1998 08:13:00
Molly, regarding the proposal of conducting an EIS for Target, it is indeed true that the City’s Environmental Quality Commission has requested the City mandate an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Target project.

The EQC made this recommendation at a meeting in which two active opponents of the project presented one side of the question. The EQC did not request to hear from Target or from City staff, or consider the MN Environmental Quality Board’s direction to the City staff on the matter. I beleive the EQC’s recommendation must be viewed as more of a political position than one arrived at after thoughtfully considering the entire amount of information on the subject.

THE EQB has not directed the City to require an EIS of this project. Dan Zawack contends that the City could request an EIS be completed, if it really wanted to. I cannot disagree with Mr. Zawack. The City could advocate for an EIS; it is a discretionary decision.

BUT, if we lower the bar for this project, shall the City require Malt-O-Meal to do an EIS everytime they expand? Or how about Sheldahl? Or how about everytime Northfield Construction build a new building in Northfield? Is that a very sensible policy? Do an EIS on everything, just in case?

I believe most reasonable people would say No to that rhetorical question. The EQB has established mandatory threshholds for when an EIS must be completed. I believe we ought to observe these mandatory threshholds for all projects, and not cave in to political pressures to use an EIS to throw projects out of our City.

Government.51.36: Nancy Gruchow (ngruchow) Wed, 07 Oct 1998 12:20:18
Margit, suppose we add up all the space in the CBD–most storefronts are 20 ft wide, and the stores are either 40 or 80 ft deep–and suppose we find that the CBD has 100,000 sq ft of retail. Does that mean that 245,000 sq ft for Target is the right amount? Too small? too big?

I think we need more info than just the number of square feet. Is some number too much? What if downtown has one million square feet of retail, then what? I suspect you have some assumptions and conclusions underlying your request to know what our CBD footage is, such as the ratio you alluded to, of 60% downtown space and 40% highway business space. But–I think one square foot of More 4, packed with eight kinds of peanut butter, is a bit different from one square foot of parking lot at a car dealership. My mind is boggled.

Government.51.37: Nancy Gruchow (ngruchow) Wed, 07 Oct 1998 12:28:23
Does everybody know what is sold at Target? If one comes here [or in Dundas], I will probably buy my toothpaste, laundry detergent, facial soap, shampoo, aspirin, paper towel, and cleaning supplies at Target.

Also, when my next appliance breaks down, instead of buying a new one at DeGroot’s or Quality Appliance, I would be able to check at Target. Not to mention the things I buy at hardware stores–nails, hammers, snow shovels, wallpaper tools, utility knives, leaf bags, rakes–all those are at Target.

And there is also a substantial amount of food–chips, pop, snacks, candy–and clothing. My opinion is that Target will impact negatively upon our downtown grocery stores and our hardware stores, our appliance stores, and our clothing stores. Not to mention the smaller sections of Target–gifts, music, sporting goods, toys.

Government.51.38: Bill Rossman (war) Wed, 07 Oct 1998 12:42:02
Molly-I tend to agree with Scott, but the question will come to Council and a decision will be made by the members.

Nancy-I think there will be some negative impacts on downtown, but I also tend to agree with the experts, that spillover from the new shoppers at Target should offset those impacts–it’s likely that those merchants who aren’t going head-to-head vs. Target, and those that concentrate on serving their clientele in the ways that they have to date, should see a benefit.

I suspect we’ll be surprised at the general increase in retail traffic in town–we haven’t had a “draw” like this in the past. And, of course, I believe downtown has been hurt by many shoppers seeking the “basics” that you’ve mentioned going out of the area to buy them.

Government.51.39: Dan Zawack via NCO-Discuss Wed, 07 Oct 1998 14:33:38
Mayor Rossman, based on some of your comments i would infer that building a Target anchored shopping center two miles from the central business district can provide a large boost to the CBD. Your comments would suggest that most frequently when this type of development occurs it is beneficial to the existing CBD.

Thursday at the League of Women Voters forum we heard from a resident of Boone, Iowa how this same situation has been devastating to their CBD. Other nay sayers have provided similar examples. I am not familar with multiple examples where a big box shopping center was developed and the result was significant CBD growth.

If would be helpful if you would provide examples of cities similar in size to Northfield, where big box stores have located a couple miles outside of the CBD and this has brought rapid growth to the associated CBD without a period of decline.

Government.51.40: David Koenig (dkoenig) Wed, 07 Oct 1998 14:49:59
Bill, lots of questions, so please pardon the length of this response. I think if you are patient enough to read the entire message, you’ll find some interesting statistics at the end.

For each of us there is a unique combination of things that determine our quality of life. Mine will be different from yours from my next- door neighbor’s and so on. Each of us can only truly represent what we believe individually and act upon those values.

Surely if the community wants this type of development, and makes that desire clear, it will continue to be my job and the job of other members of the community to make Northfield the best place that we can. In short, I will always support Northfield with or without a big box development.

Your questions about attracting people to Northfield are good ones. Could you help me to resolve a paradox in the line of reasoning being used to support big box development in Northfield, though? The advice given to small retailers on how they can compete with generic giants is to find a niche that the giants do not serve or to offer better amenities and more personal service than can be found at such big box retailers. If this advice is applicable to retailers who must compete for dollars, why is it not applicable to towns who compete for residents and consumers?

Northfield is quite different from its neighbors to the North. Surely not all of the conveniences are offered here, but other things are: good schools, quiet streets, scenic and historic beauty, abundant and inexpensive cultural activities, strong civic participation and a strong sense of belonging to each other. In other words, we have a very strong community. Yet you said in a recent City Council meeting that it’s time that Northfield “catch up”. Doesn’t catching up imply being more like our neighbors? This is where I see an apparent contradiction. Please help me to differentiate the two cases.

Onto the data…I’ve done some digging to see if I can find relevant numbers…for free, of course.

As for being worried about losing retail dollars to other towns, we need to look to a number often used to define “leakage” of dollars out of communities. This will tell us if we are a net importer of retail sales or a net exporter. This is one measure that has been used in academic studies of big box impacts on small towns.

*** As a percentage of our county’s personal income, retail sales were 36.9% in 1994 and 35.3% in 1995 (latest data available) The statewide figures were 36.7% and 36.2% for those respective years. By these figures, we are NOT experiencing net slippage in Rice County despite the anecdotal evidence. Could it be that we are discounting the shopping that is done here by non-residents in relation to the stories we know of residents who shop elsewhere?

*** Rice county voter participation rates are higher than our neighbors to the North.

*** Rice county has a higher return on tax dollars than our neighboring counties to the North.

*** Rice county has a lower average individual income tax payment than our neighbors to the North.

What about crime rates, graduation rates, air quality, noise and light pollution?

Again, what are we trying to “catch up” to?

It will be by continuing to offer something different from the norm that Northfield will continue to attract residents and businesses. Only if Rice County were a closed economy would we need to be concerned about offering “everything” to our citizens. Perhaps Apple Valley is better at offering big box retail. Perhaps Northfield is better at offering community, history and small town shopping. In International Economics this is referred to as having a comparative advantage. We should emphasize what we do best. Attempting to have everything here may actually be a sub-optimal solution for Northfield. Where would you go on vacation if we did?

***This data come from the BEA, MinnStats and MN Planning

Government.51.41: Bill Rossman (war) Wed, 07 Oct 1998 14:50:20
David, I’m not saying Nfld doesn’t already have something to offer in terms of retail shopping opportunities, but listen to our retailers–they frequently complain about Nflders shopping out of town–there must be a reason that they do this. And if we are just going to promote Nfld as a “specialty shop” center we DO have some catching up to do.

I think, if you’ll look at most of my posts, and are willing to forgive my “catching up” remark (one thing you’ll find in Nfld politics is that one statement can be construed to be your full commentary on a topic), you’ll notice that I strongly promote the possiblity that Nfld can have the “best of both worlds” in terms of retail shopping opportunities. Your Rice Co. numbers are nice. But I’m hoping to have some Nfld specific numbers that I anticipate will be eye openers to us all. Keep campaigning (did I notice some lawn signs?).

Government.51.44: David Koenig (dkoenig) Wed, 07 Oct 1998 15:09:16
Bill, please forgive me for assigning too much weight to the “catching up” comment. It was just one that had caught my attention.

Thanks too for engaging all of us in this discussion. I believe that most of us are after a well thought out decision preceded by open discussion from many vantage points.

Believe it or not, I actually did find one example where an informed citizen thought that they had benefitted from the arrival of a big box retailer. It came about through a series of phone calls that routed me through two Idaho towns and back to a small town in southern Indiana.

More on this later, but I just want you to know that I am trying to find information from as many sources as possible.

Government.51.45: Raymond Cox (ray) Wed, 07 Oct 1998 17:54:52
I’m glad to see so many posting coming in! I truly enjoy the dialog, now that Griff dragged me into the twentieth century and showed me how to operate a computer…and it’s just about to turn to a new century. Griff will have to teach me another new skill.

Scott, a couple more comments from me regarding City involvement, then no more:

1. My earlier comments are only trying to find out why the landowners and Target representatives are not REPRESENTING their project. You have not addressed that question.

2. I have remained silent on the Kump project until now, but now that you brought it up, I have never understood the burning desire for the City to work so hard on that parcel of real estate. It is probably the most difficult few acres of land in town to develop, and one that requires a terrific amount of up front energy of all sorts, for questionable return. I don’t want to assign a “right” and “wrong” way of doing things, but if I was the City I would have simple issued a request for proposals (RFP) to all area developers. I feel it is appropriate for the City to decide upon a level of financial involvement in such a project, then select a developer from proposals submitted. Maybe the City can still do that and back away from such an intimate involvement in the Kump project.

3. I agree with you that EAW’s and EIS’s should not be used as a vehicle to derail or deter development. They should be required when there is reason to require them. I have been requested to do a variety of studies, everything from trip generation studies to wetland deliniation studies. I have always agreed to the studies because I was sure the request was being made for valid reasons. If one requests EAW’s or EIS’s for other than environmental reasons, the entire credibility of the City suffers.

Government.51.46: Tracy Hartke (tracy) Wed, 07 Oct 1998 22:40:43
Griff, thanks for opening this up, as Nancy and I have been chomping at the bit to get in here and mess it up a bit! :-) I don’t know that I’ll say much that hasn’t been said already, but I’ll give it a try.

One of my frustrations with this discussion, both here and in meatspace, is that there seems to be so little hard data and so much extrapolating from personal habits, anecdotal “evidence”, and so forth. I agree that to bog this thing down by studying it to death isn’t a great idea… but I think the questions asked by those of us who doubt the benefits of a local Target really deserve to be addressed.

Since I flunked Econ in college, would somebody please try to explain to me why it matters whether we give our money to Dayton-Hudson in Apple Valley/Burnsville or whether we give it to Dayton-Hudson in Northfield? Doesn’t it end up in the same pockets? (Except for their “percentage back to the community”, but that isn’t what we’re talking about here.)

As for the growth/progress argument, I need to as a rhetorical question or two: Does “progress” equal “growth”? If we revise the Comprehensive Plan to include developments like this, are we growing, or are we just getting fat?

(An aesthetic aside: Anybody remember the beautiful old Community Bank building that was demolished in the 50′s or 60′s to make way for the sparkling gem of modern architecture that’s there now? And while I appreciate Malt-O-Meal, I have to say that the building, and the approach into town on Hwy. 19, is butt-ugly. Do we have to continue this trend? I know this is all rather subjective, but still…)

I have another, more concrete question for Scott or Bill regarding the EQB thresholds: I’ve heard that there’s a way to snake around these thresholds by fudging the actual size of the development– keeping it under that threshold for proposed Phase I, even though later phases specify a much larger development and we all know it. Is this true?

That’s enough for now. I really do hope someone takes a stab at addressing some of these issues. I’ve got a bunch more saved up for when the discussion lags. ;-)

Government.51.47: Jane McWilliams (jbm) Thu, 08 Oct 1998 00:07:30
Thanks for letting us lurkers join the discussion, Griff.

Bill – I concede that Northfield no longer offers the shopping options it did before the advent of Burnsville, Medford, Apple Valley and Mega Malls. We all heard the “great sucking sound” as stores like Bob’s Shoes, Perhams, Mitchell’s and Author’s Ink disappeared. As a result, we can’t find the variety we once had, and certain things just aren’t to be found here. For example, I recently had to go out of town to get a pair of shoes. I really try to buy things locally, e.g., especially big ticket itmes like my car, a new refrigerator, etc., but that isn’t always possible.

Yes, we do need more retail in Northfield. Has the city added to its development agenda attracting (back) shoe stores, clothing stores, etc? Have we encouraged local merchants to expand? Or have we just waited until a large developer like Target came riding into town to meet our needs. And when Target arrived, was there any discussion about where we might want such a store, or did we immediately go to work making adjustments to our land use plan to accommodate their agenda?

I’m not as confident as you are about the positive impact of a shopping center like the one envisioned by Target. If, as they plan, several other big boxes are added as well as a few restaurants, why should regional shoppers go anywhere else? They could make a day of it out there south of town and drive back to their homes without spending a minute on Division Street. Admittedly a Target development may keep many Northfielders from driving out of town to purchase things they don’t find here, or to seek the mall ambience. But the money they spend locally won’t go into the pockets of local people unless those folks pull up stakes on Division and relocate on the highway.

Moreover, I don’t think that people who choose to shop in a Target type mall are looking for the kind of shopping opportunities we offer downtown. I believe that our downtown has evolved into a nice place for people out of town to come to shop in a non-mall atmosphere and for items not likely to be found at Target, e.g., Merry Erickson’s lovely glassware, Adam and Roger’s kitchen giftware, and Fire Venner’s Swedish jewelry. If these businesses survive, Northfield will continue to be that kind of destination.

And, there are are still some healthy local businesses we locals appreciate. For example, thank heaven Lee Lansing is still there so I can buy housepaint and have my lawnmower repaired. But will he be able to keep people not committed to shopping locally from going to Menards when they come to town?

I guess what bothers many of us, Bill, is the sense that the Council didn’t really do its homework on this one. At the League forum, some serious and reasonable questions went unanswered. The council’s absence from the League of Women Voters forum led me to believe that you all had all your questions answered. I’m also concerned that folks who think Target might be nice to have, haven’t thought about the possible ramifications of the large development ii brings with it, the possible public costs like increased fire protection, stepped up traffic, etc. We should have had a community discussion before the council made such a serious revision in our land use philosophy.

The council has put the project on the fast track by directing the Planning Commission to draw up the revised comp plan language. This says to me that the decision is pretty much made to “position” Northfield to expand its regional shopping role exponentially. I urgently hope that you and the others who assert that the the benefit will outweigh the cost are right. But if not, as Bill Soderlund said at the forum last week, ” . . . once the doors open they will never be closed.”

Government.51.48: Griff Wigley (griff) Thu, 08 Oct 1998 06:38:10
The citizens are stepping up to the podium! Greetings, Molly, Nancy, David, Tracy and Jane. Anyone else out there who’d like like to join in, be sure to let me know via email: griffw@nco.northfield.mn.us

Government.51.49: Peter Hamlin (hamlin) Thu, 08 Oct 1998 07:41:40
The City of Northfield hired a consultant to study this issue. I’ve read their Issue Paper: Large-Scale Discount Retail and Its Implications for the City of Northfield. Here’s what they recommend based upon their experience with this issue as it’s affected other towns. (I’m quoting from the Conclusion of the paper.)

“Large-scale discount retail can be compatible with Northfield’s setting, character, and existing commercial districts if certain conditions are met:

- Total size … should be limited so it does not overpower the CBD [Central Business District] by comparison. The City may wish to consider a cap on total acreage or square footage within the Highway Commercial District, or on the total area of each development.

- Design guidelines should be established for all large-scale retail developments, covering topics such as architectural scale and character, building materials and colors, pedestrian and transit access, parking and landscaping, and neighborhood compatibility.

- The City should consider imposing a cap on the amount of parking permitted on a large site, to limit the amount of paved surface and ensure that an excessive amount of parking is not provided.

- The City is in a strong negotiating position because it has already established its downtown as a regional destination, and because it has prohibited large-scale retail development in its Highway Commercial District to date. … The size, scale, and design of the development are all issues that should be resolved to the City’s satisfaction before any approvals are granted.”

[The above is from Issue Paper: Large-Scale Discount Retail and its Implications for the City of Northfield, prepared by Suzanne Rhees of BRW, a consulting firm hired by the city.]

Government.51.50: Scott Neal (scott) Thu, 08 Oct 1998 07:55:43
Ray, the City is not “representing” this project. This is, at its core, a political/emotional issue, so local politicians have taken positions on the issue, and appropriately so. The reason you haven’t seen more of Target people is that they really don’t have anything to present to anybody yet because our land use regulatory system has not yet been modified to even allow their development in the community. They can’t present a concept plan, or a preliminary plat, or a proposed site plan yet, let along any true hint of design. If the City Council and the Planning Commission continue to proceed with the necessary accommodations for this project, you’ll see plenty of Target people here representing their own project – I promise.

Government.51.51: Scott Neal (scott) Thu, 08 Oct 1998 08:01:16
I have heard several times that Target’s entry into the community will cause Northfield to scrap its volunteer fire department and hire a paid fire department like Faribault.

Poppy-cock.

It’s just not true. Target needs a certain type of connection to our public water suppy with a certain guarentee of pressure to make their internal building water sprinklers function properly. The particular site they have selected will accommodate their water pressure and volume needs for fire protection.

The City is not considering scrapping its volunteer fire department. It’s the most cost-effective service we provide to citizens. continued references to this specific “potential impact” only contributes to the heaping pile of Target misinformation int he community.

Government.51.52: Dan Zawack via NCO-Discuss Thu, 08 Oct 1998 08:55:53
Scott, I’m curious why the city and Target didn’t take the intiative to go to the EQC, explain why an EIS is not mandatory so they could recommend against an EIS if it is not necessary.

The facts about the EIS requirements are that if a commercial development and its reasonably expected cumulative impacts exceed 500,000 square feet in new construction, an EIS is mandatory. Target has proposed approximately 245,000 square feet. If the city embarks on a policy to encourage this type of development it is reasonably expected that the other 255,000 square feet will be added in the future. This is based on multiple examples of existing Target development.

Based on the many examples that exist all over the country, it is logically impossible to conclude that the 500,000 square feet is not reasonably expected. Thus, in fact the threshold has been exceeded and an EIS is mandatory.

Government.51.53: Dan Zawack via NCO-Discuss Thu, 08 Oct 1998 09:05:47
Mayor Rossman, it would be helpful to the discussion if you could provide an example of where a big box shopping center has resulted in a net increase in dollars that stay in a community.

Certainly there is a population that chooses to drive significant distances to shop outside of Northfield. By placing a Target on the edge of town it will become more convenient for those people to continue to send their dollars through Target outside of Northfield. It will also become more convenient for individuals who currently find it too difficult to make the long drive to shop elsewhere to also begin to export their dollars from the Northfield economy.

In order to maintain the current equilibrium it will be necessary to replace those current sales. Clearly Target provides a challenge to maintaining the status quo in terms of dollars that remain in Northfield. Intuitively it seems that the result of adding Target to Northfield will be to further increase the export of dollars from Northfield.

The burden of proof is on of those who state that in fact the dollars that continue to circulate in the internal economy of Northfield will grow due to Target’s presence. It would be helpful for you to provide dollars and cents examples of where this has occurred.

Government.51.54: Tracy Hartke (tracy) Thu, 08 Oct 1998 09:31:56
Dan, thank you for answering my question about the EQB thresholds for required an EIS.

Scott or Bill, would you please speak to this one? I’m not advocating obtaining an EIS to provide a stalling technique; I think it’s a legitimate concern, especially *if* (and you’d know this better than I) the total development as envisioned by Dayton-Hudson is, in fact, over twice the size of that requiring an EIS.

What’s the real scoop on this one?

I’d also like to add, as I’ve said to Bill on at least one other occassion, that I think the two of you are doing a terrific job in handling this discussion of the issue. It speaks well of city government that you’re both making yourselves easily accessible both here and in person.

Government.51.55: Griff Wigley (griff) Thu, 08 Oct 1998 10:35:55
Tracy, I agree about Scott and Bill’s accessibility. Your note prompted me to fire off a quick letter to the Nfld News this morning. It’ll hopefully run in Friday’s edition.

Government.51.57: Bill Rossman (war) Thu, 08 Oct 1998 12:53:25
First, let me address an easy question. I’m very pressed for time today, but thought I’d answer at least one of Jane’s questions on attendence at the League Forum–first of all, I don’t think any council people were invited to be on the panel–I was out of town, Ken Brackee was on city business in Canada, Bob Stangler was out of town also—Garwood Delong attended. My wife attended and briefed me on the event. I don’t think anyone avoided the meeting because we had already made up our minds, etc. I’ve seen the video and am busy assembling what info I can to answer some of the questions.

Dan-without answering all of your questions–Target also proposes to spend $200K in the local community for services, supplies, etc. We should get a chance to get further input from them as we proceed.

Government.51.58: Bill Rossman (war) Thu, 08 Oct 1998 14:20:07
Dan-reducing the “outshopping” of current residents, and attracting new shoppers from the area, I see as a boon to the Northfield retail community. The contributions to Nfld include: increased tax base, payment by Target for local services (approx. $200,000/yr.), jobs (140 more or less, including full & part time, incidentally, even part-time includes benefits after 6 months), 5% return to local charity of Target profits.

Also, a regional draw is likely to attract other retail to the area–and with our revitalization of the CBD much of it is likely to end up downtown—one of the problems that has been encountered in attracting new business downtown is the lack of traffic to support it. I think you might ask a few retailers how they’re doing–if they think they get enough business. The usual complaint I hear is that they’re not doing nearly as well as they’d like to – and I guess if that’s not true, someone’s not shooting straight. We’ve tried the protectionist route before, do you think that it’s been successful?

Government.51.59: Bill Rossman (war) Thu, 08 Oct 1998 16:35:09
Tracy, the Target development, including their outlots for further development (other retail, restaurant, etc.) encompasses about 243,000 sq. ft. (roughly half of what is required for a mandatory EIS). The remaining property that is part of the proposed annexation is owned by another developer and is not connected to the Target proposal.

It is likely that this land will be zoned for business park and residential, but no plans have come forward yet, and perhaps may not come forward for several years. I know that the EDA is suggesting no further retail development in the annexed area beyond the Target proposal.

Government.51.60: David Koenig (dkoenig) Thu, 08 Oct 1998 16:52:15
Bill and Dan, I need a clarification.

Isn’t the mandatory EIS threshold 250,000 sq ft. or reasonably expected to exceed 250,000 sq ft. if the area is unincorporated?

Northfield has not annexed this land to my knowledge, so doesn’t the lower threshold apply at present?

Can Northfield ask for an EIS before annexation? I know that we may not be able to rule against one until that time, but what about the situation as it currently stands?

Government.51.61: Mary Andrzejeski (mary) Thu, 08 Oct 1998 21:42:13
I arrived in Northfield almost 10 years ago, and checked out the location in regards to being located between Minneapolis and Rochester hospitals/clinics, schools, community values, crime, and a nice appeal to the eye. Prior to this, I was raised in a similar town in Minnesota, where my father owned and operated a small business, whereafter I worked for the government for 9 years in intelligence. Just prior to coming to Northfield my husband was diagnoised with Multiple Sclerosis, and the doctors didn’t think it was possible for him to live more than 5 years. So at 30 years old, mother of 3 boys, (all under age 8), I had to try to set my priorities straight, and try my best to be a well informed Wife, Mother, and Citizen.

I thought of what a family needs most in life to be productive, and I had to insure we had at least a minimally handicap accessible place to set up as our shelter.Hand in hand, a strong family and faith were of the utmost importance.

My questions are to any one that can answer them. Is a mall going to invite crime levels to rise as we draw people in? (More shop lifters? More traffic, more trash being thrown or dropped, more noise?) Also, will more families turn to shopping as a quick and easy remedy versus waiting until it’s a need?

To me, it’s more than just a Target. It’s not about developing, nor is it about what is good for our community. It’s about Wants versus Needs, Comfort versus Convenience, it’s investing land for big business, not for community or family values. I realize that not everyone is in my position, but I have had the opportunity to see what big business “has in store” for small towns and they take away more than they give. I know this is a lengthy entry, but I felt that I needed to tell my side. I do appreciate EVERYONE’S opinion and hope someone can respond with open thoughts….. Thank You.

Government.51.63: Griff Wigley (griff) Thu, 08 Oct 1998 23:03:02
Greetings, Mary, and thanks for helping us understand how your life’s situation and decision to move to Northfield are part of the background on your opposition to Target. I suspect that lots more of us have something similar, ie, a personal reason that’s part and parcel of our public position. I’d like to invite others to comment in a similar vein.

I think it’s important to acknowledge, however, that many of those in favor of Target proposal care just as deeply about the town as you do. Bill Rossman and Scott Neal (and many other proponents) don’t have anything to gain financially from this. Sure, Target wants to set up shop here to make a buck but Scott, Bill and others want the same thing for Northfield that are dear to you: “community and family values” that are supported by a healthy economy. They just differ with you in how to get/stay there.

I think the consumerist mentality that you justly decry is one that pervades our culture and undermines community and family values as much or more than it contributes to our quality of life. I think many people on BOTH sides of this issue would agree. For me the question becomes how to best deal with this cultural force?

If a Target in Northfield would mean a big decrease in time-consuming shopping trips to the southern suburbs, stimulating the economy of Northfield while strengthening the downtown and adding handsomely to the tax coffers, then I think you and I both would support it, even if it makes a huge amount of money for Target.

I’m not yet personally convinced that these possible benefits outweigh the risks (I am willing to be influenced, however!) I just think that people on both sides are trying to do what’s best for the town and that we should all acknowledge that, even while we’re in the midst of vehement arguments.

Government.51.64: David Koenig (dkoenig) Fri, 09 Oct 1998 09:07:24
Griff, there does seem to be a lot of talk about adding handsomely to our tax coffers. The figure of $70,000 that I got came from Karl Huber and two other city officials (city benefit only). On top of that, I believe roughly $130,000 per year is expected for the school district and about $70,000 for the county. Again, all of these assume that there are no secondary or tertiary impacts. So, at best, it seems to me that this nets out to about $15 per resident per year.

Okay, it seems like an addition to our coffers. But, do we need an addition to our coffers badly enough to take the “risks” as you say.

Scott and Bill, will you inform the audience of what the city’s budget surplus was in each of the last five years? When was the last time the city ran a deficit? What is the expectation for the 1998 surplus? Isn’t it supposed to be close to $2 million?

The Star Tribune had an interesting article today about property taxes. Northfield ranked 77th out of 130 non-metro area cities in taxes on a $70,000 home. We ranked 83rd in the non-metro area based on expected selling price. In other words, we’re right in the middle.

More intersting statistics from that article:

- Northfield’s tax rate on an an average-priced home is lower than that of Apple Valley.

- During 1997, Northfield’s average property tax rate fell 1.8%.

We’ve heard New Ulm, Red Wing and Stillwater being cited (by big box proponents) as examples of what Northfield might aspire to.

In 1997:

New Ulm property taxes went up 5.9%.
Stillwater went up 3.3%.
Red Wing up 4.6%.

If there were special circumstances that caused this, please let me know. Still digging for more data…….

Government.51.65: Margit Johnson via NCO-Discuss Fri, 09 Oct 1998 09:37:40
Comments on several observations and questions posed by panelists and citizens alike:

Scott, you heard at the LWV forum that folks would like “the City to be WAY more involved than we already are.” What I hear folks saying is that the City should be more pro-active in the planning process, but not necessarily in the development process. I would moderate that position by saying that the Planning Commission should be doing more long-range planning, designating appropriate land uses in the Planned Urban Boundary (the area just outside city limits) based on adequate info from decent maps and professional input. And that planning should be done BEFORE developers approach the City with specific proposals. The EDA, on the other hand, is particularly well equipped to promote specific developments, based on land use designations found in the Comprehensive Plan.

Scott, you also posed a question, rhetorical, I hope: “Do an EIS on everything, just in case?…use an EIS to throw projects out of our City.” Of course, an EIS isn’t appropriate or necessary in every case, nor is it a blunt tool used to toss out controversial proposals. However, any time 30 acres of farmland is converted to another use which, according to the EAW, will change the impervious surfaces from .5 acres to 26.5 acres, and the total square footage is within ca. 4,000 square feet (or less than 2%) of the limit of square footage mandating an EIS, I think that the Council must come up with some compelling reasons for NOT requiring the additional info provided in an EIS.

Finally, I would like to underscore Peter Hamlin’s highlights of the BRW issue paper on big box retailing, including the three recommendations the consultant has made to the City:

- limiting total size of the development or the Highway Business District
- establishing design guidelines for all large-scale retail developments
- imposing a cap on the amount of parking permitted on a large site

The Planning Commission is currently working on language for the Comprehensive Plan which incorporates those recommendations.

Where does the Council stand on them?
Have they had an opportunity to discuss them?
Do they have adequate information to make a decision on the recommendations we pass along to them?

Government.51.66: Margit Johnson via NCO-Discus Fri, 09 Oct 1998 09:41:43
A question for Scott, Bill and Jim:

Has there been any further discussion or fact finding about the memo I wrote to the Council and the Planning Commission in late May which raised these concerns:

That if “spillover” from Target is to benefit the CBD (which I think is possible, assuming there is a growth linkage between the CBD and the HBD), and if, as the EAW states, the traffic projections for the 30-acre development are for 20,800 trips/day (with 41,000 trips/day projected for an additional 200 acres of development in the HBD), has the City planned for:

A. Adequate parking in the CBD to accommodate that spillover from Target or other retail development along So. Hwy. 3? My hunch is that if folks can’t find a convenient parking place downtown after lapping a couple of blocks, they will simply drive home and never spend a dime in the CBD. If Dayton Hudson is hoping to open a store within the next year or year and a half, Northfield’s CBD should be budgeting NOW for tiered parking (behind Jacobsen’s, Tires Plus or behind the Storlie building?) within the same time frame, so that we have adequate parking downtown when the first 20,800 trips/day roll through town.

B. Adequate public transit linking the CBD with the HBD, so that they can benefit one another, and so that folks without cars or folks who are concerned about those 20,800 trips/day and want to reduce it a tad by taking the bus can do so. As Northfield’s retail and service sector expands north to south (possibly 5-6 miles from the hospital near Waterford to K Mart in Dundas), the City and the businesses in the CBD and the HBD need to think seriously about public transit along that corridor. Those are no longer walkable or bikable distances.

C. A reasonable strategy or plan on the part of the City and the Chamber to attract businesses (retail, office, service, etc.) to the storefronts in the CBD that may or will be vacated when general retail heads out onto Hwy. 3. Bill, I think you may be right in saying that additional regional market dollars coming to Northfield because of a Target (appropriately sized – my editorial comment) can bolster existing businesses and attract new ones (but only if adequate parking exists).

But the City and the Chamber should put their heads together NOW to strategize on how to attract new businesses into the CBD when some of our exisiting businesses move out to Hwy. 3 or go out of business. Why wait for Division St. to slump? Part of that strategy, I think, is developing a linkage between the growth in the CBD and the HBD. And, Bill, it doesn’t just have to be retail growth or comparative net profit or sales. I’m suggesting that any existing square footage has the potential to generate revenue (and pay property taxes) through retail or wholesale sales, apartment or office rentals, business services, etc.

That’s why I think a simple existing square foot calculation and a sustainable proportion between the two business districts would suffice. It may not be rocket science, but it would maintain the CBD (C-1 and C-2) as the primary business center of Northfield. And the CBD, as a healthy core, serves as the engine to drive additional develoment in the HBD. However, if the HBD becomes the driving force and its square footage greatly exceeds that of the CBD, Northfield could face the same uphill struggle for downtown viability that Faribault and other small towns have experienced.

To reiterate: has there been any discussion about these three points?

Government.51.67: Daniel Zawack via NCO-Discuss Fri, 09 Oct 1998 09:44:38
Scott, Bill:

The questions I have posed in this forum ask for examples not further assertions. You each keep asserting that Target will be good for the Northfield economy. You keep creating imaginary scenarios where the development fulfills your desires for it. You have chosen to support a proposal that will produce enormous change to Northfield. By choosing to support that position you have also taken on the burden to demonstrate why the consequences will be positive. I appreciate your feelings that it will be a good thing for Northfield, but because someone hopes for a certain result doesn’t mean there is a high probability it will occur.

I have asked for data or examples to support your assertions about the economic consequences of the Target development. Simply, please describe other cities where this has occurred and yielded positive results for the CBD. The so called naysayers have provided multiple examples of where the consequences have been bad. If the outcomes are likely to be as good as you assert then there must be more good examples than bad.

To date you have provided no examples of other cities where this has worked as you suggest it will. Based on the data and examples that have been described to date the likelihood that your assertions of positive consequences for the CBD will come to pass are very low. In fact since there is no positive example cities on the table it suggests the probability of your assertions is close to zero.

Furthermore rather than providing data to support your assertions you keep making the argument that data is not relevant. I am tempted to draw the conclusion that data is not relevant because there is not much available to support the assertions of positive outcomes.

Government.51.68: Bruce Morlan via NCO-Discuss Fri, 09 Oct 1998 09:53:00
Bill Rossman wrote in post:59
>Tracy, the Target development, including their outlots for further
>development (other retail, restaurant, etc.) encompasses about 243,000 sq.
>ft. (roughly half of what is required for a mandatory EIS). The remaining
>property that is part of the proposed annexation is owned by another
>developer and is not connected to the Target proposal.

Dave Koenig wrote in post:60
>Isn’t the mandatory EIS threshold 250,000 sq ft. or reasonably
>expected to exceed 250,000 sq ft. if the area is unincorporated?

This was the point of Dan Zawack’s analysis. My own analysis was also directed at this. In the EAW presented so far, the Target proposal claims 30 acres and 248,000 sq. feet. Later in the same document they refer to 200 acres total expected growth.

Scaling linearly this converts to 1.6 million sq. ft. which exceeds *both* the incorporated (0.5M) and unincorporated (0.25M) limits above which an EIS is required.

Even at half that (100 acres – 0.8 million sq. ft.) both threshholds are exceeded.

However, in what could be called an end-run, it is proposed that the land (now unincorporated, 0.25M limit applies) be annexed to allow the larger incorporated limit (0.5M) to be used.

While I agree with an earlier post (my apologies for not finding it) that said that using an EIS as a stick to stop otherwise valid development, I am made suspicious when I see efforts being made to avoid one as well.

Like many of the opponents, I am living where I am *because* Northfield is small and “customized”. The thought of having a Target complex with associated Best Buy, Menards, a couple of Chi Chi-like restaurants and a gaggle of Burger King-like fast food chains all within a mile or so of my little farm (which I bought for some peace, quiet, and star-lit skies) is not pleasant.

[By the way, I *like* all the stores listed in the preceeding paragraph - enough that I will sometimes stop in when I drive by one on a trip elsewhere - but not enough to want to be able to walk to them.]

Peter Hamlin wrote in post:49
>The City of Northfield hired a consultant to study this issue. I’ve read
>their Issue Paper: Large-Scale Discount Retail and Its Implications for the
>City of Northfield. Here’s what they recommend based upon their experience
>with this issue as it’s affected other towns. (I’m quoting from the
>Conclusion of the paper.)
>…
>”The City should consider imposing a cap on the amount of parking permitted on a large site, to limit the amount of paved surface and ensure that an excessive amount of parking is not provided.”

How about imposing a trees-per-square-foot of parking space so that the parking lot looks more like a park than an aircraft carrier deck? I would prefer

This (with trees throughout) over this

*…*…*…*…*…*… *******************
..*…*…*…*…*…*. **……………**
*…*…*…*…*…*… **……………**
..*…*…*…*…*…*. **……………**
*…*…*…*…*…*… **……………**
..*…*…*…*…*…*. **……………**
*…*…*…*…*…*… **……………**
..*…*…*…*…*…*. *******************

I would also like to see a limit on light pollution (which can be met _if_ the original lighting put into the parking lot is designed to be both energy efficient (directing light downward saves watts) and subdued. Retrofitting is expensive, doing it right the first time is cheap. Defining “right” is sometimes the job of the Planning Commission.

Government.51.70: Griff Wigley (griff) Fri, 09 Oct 1998 10:30:43
Hidden in the next post is the text of BRW consultant Suzanne Rhees’s report, titled:

Issue Paper: Large-Scale Discount Retail and its Implications for the City of Northfield

Government.51.72: Griff Wigley (griff) Fri, 09 Oct 1998 10:50:46
In the Nfld News, Friday, Oct 9:

Northfield residents will get voices heard concerning Target amendment Oct. 13

The text of the article, as well as the wording from the proposed amendment, is hidden in the next post.

Thanks to NFld News managing editor Michael Garlitz for sending me the text, as the articles from the News take a few days before they get put up on their web site at: http://www.northfield.org/news

Government.51.74: Scott Neal (scott) Fri, 09 Oct 1998 14:57:17
There have been twenty two posts since my last one. Where to begin…

EIS: I think I hit this in an ealier post, but I’ll hit again now. Dan Zawack, Bruce Morland, and Tracy all had comments about this. The proposed development right now is estimated to be about 245,000 sq ft at complete build-out. This is for the full thirty acres of the Target developed site. This is the site that we consider for estimating the “cumulative impact” of future development. The remaining land that adjoins this site is not proposed to be under Target control. If it were, I think Dan’s point about future development “reasonably” expecting to exceed 500,000 sq. ft might be true. This is the same standard, by the way, that the City holds all developers to, not just a special consideration for Target.

David Koenig points out that the site is currently outside the City limits so the EIS threshhold for the project is not 500,000 sqft, but 250,000 sqft. This is true. But, City staff (me, the City Engineer, City Planner, and Community Development Director) went to St. Paul on September 14th and met with Mr. John Larsen of the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board to discuss this exact question. Mr. Larsen’s direction to us was that the City could not take action on the EAW until the land was annexed into the City. He also said that because of the City’s annexation policy, the best route to proceed with this project was to consider the tract as though it were annexed becasue it would be when the actual environmental impacts were felt. So, I feel confident that the City is acting with the advice and counsel of the MnEQB on this matter.

Government.51.75: Scott Neal (scott) Fri, 09 Oct 1998 15:05:18
Dan, I want to be clear about my previous comments about the City’s Environmental Quality Commission’s decision to request that an EIS be prepared for the proposed Target project. I don’t have any problems at all with you as a Bridgewater Twp. citizen coming to the Northfield EQC with a concern.

You asked me why I didn’t go to the meeting to represent Target. Why? Because I don’t get paid to represent Target, is my first response. I get paid to enact the policy and projects that the elected representatives of Northfield desire to see for their community.

The other answer I have, and frankly, this one doesn’t sound nearly as pompous, I just didn’t notice it on their agenda. I usually look at the agendas of all Northfield’s boards and commissions just to see what they are doing. I did not notice this matter on the EQC agenda.

Let me ask you how you would feel if I beat you to the EQV and go them to adopt a resolution endorsing the proposal that no EIS was necessary without giving you and others a chance to state your side of the issue? I think you would not respect that particular decision, and you would consider vacant of any integrity.

This issue is too important for one group to use procedural tactics and such to stifle the discussion of others. It’s too big of an issue for adviosry boards and commissions not to carefully consider the entire picture.

Government.51.76: Griff Wigley (griff) Fri, 09 Oct 1998 17:30:36
The BRW report is now up at:

http://nco.northfield.mn.us/html/brw.html

The forum will remain open till 6 am or so tomorrow morning (Sat. Oct 10) so post your questions and comments soon. I’ll be mostly outdoors having fun this weekend, but I do plan to do a review of all the posts to date on Monday evening and list the unanswered questions.

If they’re numerous, I may ask the panelists to take a crack at them over the course of next week.

I’ll hold off on final thank yous and wrapups till then. Carry on

Government.51.77: Mary Andrzejeski (mary) Fri, 09 Oct 1998 22:04:54
Mr. Neal and Mayor Rossman,

I don’t think you’re bad people or misinformed. I think you are addressing the possibilities with Northfield citizens and their neighbors in mind. I think everyone is entittled to their opinion and should speak for what they want along with other citizens on both sides of any issue, and you’re hired/elected to meet the needs of the majority.

My concerns along with a growing number of the local residents is why can’t we leave the comp plan the way it is, (projected for light industrial sites along the corridor), and as property gets vacated closer into town, utilize those sites for additional retail? People would be able to apply for higher paying jobs that would meet their needs much better, AND we can have Target retail enter the community for people that just need a part time job or availability to the merchandise Target will have to offer.

If we look at the fact that Target and the rest of the Mall will take time to build over a five year span, could we have the available location in time for Target to build where we know it and our community values can co-exist? We would still reap benifits, (not quite as many tax dollars), but then again, we wouldn’t have as many tax dollars being spent for more police protection, road changes/repairs, subsidies for people that need higher paying jobs to provide for themselves and families, and so on….

I’m not saying that you haven’t looked at the whole picture, but I wonder if we can’t reevaluate and save the land in question for buildings that build up, not out. We would be able to incorporate this and still have land to develope as wished later…

Government.51.78: Griff Wigley (griff) Sat, 10 Oct 1998 06:42:24
Thaaaaaaaaaat’s all folks… for now.

Again, I do plan to do a review of all the posts early next next week and list the unanswered questions for possible further panelist reaction.

Reminders:

- the BRW report is at http://nco.northfield.mn.us/html/brw.html

- Mayor Bill Rossman*s May through Septemper comments re: Target, taken (out of context) from the BridgeSquare conference, topic 50 in the NCO Web Cafe are at http://nco.northfield.mn.us/html/rossman.html

- the informal discussion on Target continues in the NCO Web Cafe over in Topic:Bridgesquare.50. Over 135 postings to date.

- The League of Women Voters Northfield/NCO Online Election Forums begin next Wed, Oct 14. First up will be House District 25A incumbent John Tuma and challenger Herb Frey. The following week is the forum for City Council candidates. Check the calendar page on the LWV web site for dates and times of the League-sponsored F2F election forums, too: http://nco.northfield.mn.us/lwv/html/calendar.html The Election ’98 page has candidate info & position statements: http://nco.northfield.mn.us/lwv/html/election__98.html

Government.51.79: Griff Wigley (griff) Sat, 10 Oct 1998 07:05:21
I’d like to have some discussion about this forum.

What was helpful about it? What was frustrating?

I’d particularly appreciate some critical feedback on how I handled
the forum as moderator. I’m very interested in learning more about how
these online forums can be structured and moderated in a way that’s
the most helpful for the most people.

I have a very thick skin about stuff like this so please don’t worry
about being too blunt.

Join the discussion over in topic:Bridgesquare.54

Folks on the NCO-Discuss list, please respond via email.

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