Following a public hearing and brief discussion Tuesday evening, the city’s common council approved the closure of the Center/Cedar Street intersection by a margin of 7-1; 2nd District Alderman Pete Lokemoen dissenting.
The vacation of the intersection came as a request from Breaman Ford owner Joe Breaman in March, and was taken under consideration by the city’s Board of Public Works.
The vacation is part of a planned expansion by Breaman consisting of a 4,000 square foot addition to the south of the dealership’s current location, and involves the demolition of two buildings adjacent to the dealership.
The expansion will include employee parking, additional show lot space and a car wash for use by the dealership. According to Breaman, the intent of requesting the closure of the Cedar Street intersection would be for the safety of employees in utilizing the new expansion.
The proposal would ultimately garner the board’s approval, but not not without it’s share of concern. During the March meeting, Lokemoen spoke at length of concerns expressed to him by a resident in the vicinity of the proposed expansion. Said concerns included snow removal and traffic using private driveways to turn around, once the intersection is closed and signage is in place.
The matter picked up City Plan Commission approval in early April and was scheduled for Tuesday’s puiblic hearing. During Tuesday’s hearing, two community members addressed the council; one spoke in favor of the closure while the other opposed.
“Im not objecting to growing a business, I’m all for that” stated a neighbor to the dealership who opposed the closure of the intersection. “But, if everything in Merrill is for the businesses, where are we going? Is it all about money and increasing tax base? This will affect 25 people who have families. They have generations ahead of them that don’t want this to change. All I ask is that you don’t do it.”
A spouse of a Breaman employee spoke in favor of the closure; comparing the intersection to that of Scott and East First Streets, stating her opinion of the intersection being a danger to the public.
Lokemoen once again expressed opposition to the proposal Tuesday evening, citing a need for the council to evaluate a plot plan before giving approval.
“The council should know what this will look like after the expansion is complete, before they approve this”
The final step will be Board of Public Works consideration of a final site plan of the intersection closure later this month.Approval will be required before the closure can proceed.