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Newport-St. Paul Park Cold Storage plans addition

For the third time since 2008, Newport-St. Paul Cold Storage has filed a variance request to expand its Maxwell Avenue location and president Andrew Greenberg said the building expansion will happen this time.

The company, which specializes in storing and shipping frozen goods, originally applied for variance requests in 2008 and 2009, but failed to begin construction on the property within a year, which made the permits null and void.

During the Wakota Bridge and Highway 61 project, the property, located at 2233 Maxwell Ave., lost more than 38,000 square feet of land where the business expected to grow. With the loss of property, the previous variance requests were never used.

This year, however, Greenberg said the expansion "is needed today."

"We're committed to doing this, we just need to button down some final plans," he said. "We're anxiously waiting and want to do this sooner rather than later."

The business is proposing to add 52,593 square feet in two phases. Phase one would include 31,720 square feet and phase two would add an additional 20,873 feet. The height of the building is also proposed to increase to 59 feet to accommodate taller equipment, Greenberg said.

Sherri Buss, a planner from TKDA, spoke on behalf of the variance and said while the request met city and state statute, there were still several factors to consider because the property lies in a shoreland overlay district, floodplain overlay district and Mississippi River critical area.

"We have not seen the final plans yet but the biggest concern we have is with stormwater management," Buss said, which was raised after the business proposed building underground storage. "Because the land is precious, (the planning commission) was concerned how that would work in a floodplain zone."

To address those concerns and questions about the height of the building, which is in an area close to scenic river views, Buss contacted the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

"Other industrial buildings in the area are even taller that and are far more visible from the highway," Buss said. "As long as (Newport-St. Paul Cold Storage) keeps the existing screening on the berms, the DNR said they were OK with it."

However, final plans would need to be submitted to the DNR.

The plans to build onto the property met seven criteria and were "in harmony with everything that the comprehensive plan says," Buss added.

With more space comes more commodities and more jobs, Greenberg said.

"It will increase the number of employees we have at the business," he said. "Not immediately but over time as we become busier."

Newport City Engineer John Stewart said finding plans that work in conjunction with state regulations relating to floodplains won't "kill the job," but would require more research.

Newport-St. Paul Cold storage was directed to submit a more comprehensive stormwater management plan and finalize building blueprints before construction is allowed to begin.