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Site of planned Popeye's faces continued development guideline debate

Rochester Planning and Zoning Commission waits to review proposed effort to clarify standards.

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The Chateau Circle Special District is located at 55th Street and Chateau Road Northwest in Rochester. (Andrew Link / alink@postbulletin.com)

Owners of remaining lots in the 7-acre Chateau Circle development along Rochester’s 55th Street Northwest worry a request to clarify development guidelines could limit current plans.

Among planned development at the site is a Popeye’s chicken restaurant, which was confirmed after the sale of one of three remaining lots for $710,000 last month.

RELATED: It's a go - Popeyes is officially coming to Rochester

The concerns stem from proposed modifications to development guidelines, which are set for review by the Rochester Planning and Zoning Commission before an eventual Rochester City Council decision.

An attorney representing property owners of the development across the road from WalMart North asked for a delay to allow a better understanding of what changes are being considered.

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“We don’t know what we don’t know,” Robert Brenner of Dunlap and Seeger told commission members, adding that his clients are seeking documents to better understand what motivated the change.

The request for clarifying standards for future development in the area came from Rochester City Council member Nick Campion in October, with the support of council member Patrick Keane and an eventual unanimous council vote.

“The text is extensive, but also a little bit difficult to decipher,” Campion said of the special standards adopted for the six lots in the district, four of which are empty.

Former council president Randy Staver agreed that a review was worthwhile, adding that the document had become complex in an effort to meet expectations of property owners, potential developers and nearby residents.

On Wednesday, Cindy Steinhauser, Rochester’s community development director, said the complex language has added staff time related to reviews of potential development.

She said a process that should take eight to 10 hours of staff time has topped 150 hours of review for a proposed development at the site. She didn’t say whether the development was the Firestone Complete Auto Care, the planned Popeye’s or another potential business.

At this point, the only completed building in the district, which was created in 2015, is the former MedExpress Urgent Care.

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The Chateau Circle Special District is located at 55th Street and Chateau Road Northwest in Rochester. (Andrew Link / alink@postbulletin.com)

Altra Credit Union owns an undeveloped lot at the site, and a letter from Brenner states the two remaining lots haven’t been sold.

Steinhauser said future development plans could become mired in the complex guidelines and create problems for future commission and city council decisions.

Brenner, however, said his clients see the changes as more than clarification. He said new restrictions to development appear to be included in the proposed changes.

The commission agreed Wednesday to delay the discussion of the proposed changes until it’s Feb. 10 meeting to provide property owners time to get the answers they’ve requested.

Brenner and Steinhauser agreed that the delay should not be indefinite.

“The sooner this is resolved, the better it is for all of us,” Brenner said.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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