Hopkins council members signed off on preliminary plans for the Shady Oak Road expansion amid the protest of three people who spoke against the project Tuesday.
Rick Nelson, owner of Nelson’s Meat Market and Bakery, was critical of to save as many businesses as possible—worrying that it still wouldn’t leave sufficient parking.
“The project, the way it is right now, I’m just not sure it’s going to work with the business owners,” he said.
City leaders have been searching for a way to help businesses ever since word came down that the road would be narrower than expected. That would bring the road within a few feet of some Shady Oak businesses—just enough to remove essential parking without giving them the money that would have helped property owners move.
A proposal to redevelop the affected properties and rearrange some of the businesses was supposed to alleviate those fears. But Nelson’s opinion contrasted with an image city staff had presented of businesses working with the city to find the best way out of a difficult situation.
( to see a more-detailed look at the plan.)
Council members speculated after Tuesday’s meeting that Nelson, a renter, may have different wishes than the property owners who will have ultimate say over what to do with their buildings.
But they added that their goal is to help those businesses that want to remain.
“Every business down there has been an asset to the City of Hopkins. We’re not taking that away from you,” Mayor Gene Maxwell told Nelson. “We want to make sure that you have the ability to survive in the business that you have.”
West Park Road homeowners Jill and Allen Forrest face a similar challenge. Like the businesses, they stand to lose a piece of their property under the current plan. Planners suggested they could redesign that portion of the project to miss the Forrests’ property. But if the road still winds up being too close to their home, Allen Forrest said he’d rather have the county just take the entire property instead of see his home devalued.
Tuesday’s approval is merely intended to signal that the city is OK with the overall footprint. It is not a financial commitment, and details could change with final planning.
Minnetonka must also approve the plans. It’s scheduled to take up the issue March 26.