The Blair Planning Commission has recommended approval of a conditional use permit (CUP) for a manufacturing facility in the former Super Foods building, 208 N. Front St.
Blair resident Brent Stirek presented plans Tuesday to expand his business, Stirek Construction Services, at the corner of North 19th and Front streets. Stirek has a purchase agreement in place that is contingent upon approval of the CUP.
Stirek Construction Services manufactures furniture and cabinetry for senior living centers throughout the Midwest.
Stirek's plans include a new, modern exterior for the building.
“Obviously, our intent is to clean up the building,” he said.
Stirek also plans to construct a second building along Front Street and add a privacy fence.
“By putting and placing the building there, it blocks off all the view from Highway 30, from Front Street,” he said. “It keeps the general appearance of a nice property.”
The board voted 5-1-1 in favor of a 25-year CUP for a contractor yard with material fabrication done inside only. The recommendations also include stipulations regarding landscaping and street parking along Front Street.
Commission member Milt Heinrich was absent. Member Joe Peleska voted against the recommendation, citing the need for a longer length on the permit, while Doug Cook abstained because he believed he didn't have enough information to make a decision.
“I'm not opposed to what you want to do Brent, but I am not comfortable with the plan you submitted,” Cook said. “I think just stating landscaping tells me nothing. Is that rock, is that mulch? I don't know what that is.”
Stirek said asking for landscaping designs was “putting the cart before the horse.”
“I think you can do a better job on your architectural design and I know you can do a better job on your landscaping,” Cook said. “Those are my concerns.”
“I don't think it's fair for me to go to a landscaping contractor in Blair to say, 'Hey I'd like you to draw up this elaborate plan,' and bring it to you if I don't know if I can do anything with it,” Stirek said.
Neighbors expressed concerns about traffic and noise.
Jane Straube, who lives on Front Street across the highway from the building, worried about noise and wanted clarification on the inside only work.
“You could have all the garage doors open, the whole neighborhood is still going to hear it,” she said.
Chairman Robert Boettcher noted the doors will be facing the opposite direction with the highway as a buffer.
“How noisy is your equipment?” he asked Stirek.
“It's pretty quiet. Even with the doors open, I don't think you'd hear it from more than 75 to 100 feet from the building,” he said.
Matthew Rasmussen, who owns a residential structure on the south corner of North 19th and Front streets, said there is a need to keep the parking on the north side of Front Street.
“I'm not trying to be selfish, but the city parking right there, if mine ever gets to be something in the central business district other than a house, that parking is a huge benefit,” he said.
Neighbor Chad Kuchta agreed. He said residents who live across from the building often use the parking.
“It's always full,” he said.
Prior to hearing Stirek's request, the planning commission also recommended to approve changes to a zoning ordinance and the zoning map, which includes establishing an overlay district under Section 1007, Special Mixed Use Industrial Overlay District.
The changes are necessary to allow for Stirek's CUP. If the Blair City Council denies the changes, the permit request is void.
The city council will have public hearings and consider each item for approval at its Aug. 13 meeting.