Oakdale is getting another Caribou Coffee shop.
The city council unanimously approved the site plan and variance for the new coffee shop, which will be located at the intersection of Highway 36 and Century Avenue. The city council's decision follows the Planning Commission's unanimous approval of the site plan and variance.
The new 1,706 square foot Caribou site will be located at 6014 Highway 36. The city council also approved Caribou's request for an 8-foot variance to the 10-foot required parking lot setback located on the southern property line. The variance pushes the building and parking lot south to allow for an emergency bypass lane and exit for traffic north of the drive-thru lane.
The coffee shop will replace an old Kwik Stop gas station lot that has been vacant for a number of years.
The city worked with Midwest Traffic Consulting to conduct a traffic study of the area. The agency determined Caribou's busiest hour would be from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. The study looked at the number of trips going out of the driveway as well as traffic numbers during Caribou's peak hour.
Caribou also requested the study add 50 percent more traffic than it would typically include to account for worst-case scenarios.
The study showed a 25-second average delay at the left turn lane out of the Caribou site. The delay typically becomes a concern if it reaches an average of 50 seconds, said Scott Israelson, the study's traffic engineer.
The study also determined that Caribou would accomodate existing traffic instead of create additional traffic.
At the Planning Commission meeting this month the Minnesota Department of Transportation also approved the site, adding that Caribou should close off the southern access to the location for safety reasons.
Though the traffic study and MnDOT deemed the location safe, local business owners spoke against the proposal.
Bill Berger, owner of Gateway Cycle, said he spent time from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Tuesday morning counting traffic and traffic violations. Berger said he counted 550 cars going south, 388 cars going north and 21 traffic violations.
"I'm not against a business starting and thriving in this area," Berger said. "I just don't want to add to this terrible traffic problem."
Councilman Paul Reinke said he also visited the site to count traffic. While he agreed it's a busy intersection, Reinke said the new Caribou is appropriate for that corner.
"There are traffic issues," Reinke said. "There's also a building there that's sorely outdated and this proposal brings a really attractive building and meets our goals of getting rid of the unsightly ones."
Lars Carlson, manager of the nearby Salvation Army, also spoke against the plan, citing the same traffic concerns. Carlson, along with Berger and another local business owner, started a petition and collected 117 signatures from their customers who opposed the Caribou site.
"We don't claim to be traffic experts, but we've spent enought time to know what's safe for our citizens," Carlson said.
Councilwoman Lori Pulkrabek said she also thought this was the best option for the vacant site.
"I have to believe the engineers that it will work out," Pulkrabek said. "The bottom line is this is a better use of this site than the gas station was."