Widseth illustration, old car wash

On Monday, June 28, 2021, Red Wing City Council approved a permit to convert the old car wash into a building with three businesses. The council was presented with an illustration of how the building will look when finished. 

The only item on the motions and general business portion of Monday’s City Council meeting was the proposed permits and variances for property reuse at 1315 Old West Main St., which is known as the old car wash. 

Planning Manager Steve Kohn explained in his staff report, “The applicant is proposing to reuse the existing building on the site to create three tenant spaces, two of which would be defined as ‘drive-in restaurants’ and a third that may include a ‘standard restaurant.’”

Scooter’s Coffee is planning to be one of the businesses with a drive-thru window. 

Council members expressed excitement about the proposal. 

“We’ve been sitting with that building for a while. I think this is not only creative but also kind of dips into the redevelopment plan for that district,” Evan Brown said.

The motion passed unanimously. 

Here are three other things to know from the June 28, 2021, meeting:

1. Public frustrated with engagement

The public comment portions of the City Council meetings have been well utilized over the past months. On Monday, two residents voiced their thoughts, which revolved around the idea that the City Council had not been listening to them/other community members as it should.

The first to speak was Chaz Neal. He had interrupted the City Council and Human Rights Commission workshop on Thursday to demand a public comment period to discuss the proposed resolution to declare racism a public health emergency. 

Neal said on Monday, “I want to apologize to the community of Red Wing, not for my actions on Thursday but for my words. What you saw on Thursday was a lot of frustration, a lot of anger as well. I put a lot of work into that resolution, I put a lot of time, I put a lot of effort.”

Neal added that part of his frustration stemmed from the fact that some workshops and meetings have public comment periods while others don’t and the decision to hold a public comment time or not seems rather arbitrary.

The Charter Commission is looking into the city’s policy for public comments. 

Neal said it takes too long for a resolution or item to move through city commissions and the council. Neal submitted the resolution in October.

Mike Montgomery also spoke on Monday. He had advocated for the city to resume in-person meetings since last year. While he spoke about his disappointment that it was not until June that in-person meetings resumed, the statement focused on his belief that the council is not listening to residents. 

“Here’s the problem. You guys let people speak but you’re not listening to what they say,” Montgomery said.

2. Firefighters honored at last

Ten Red Wing Fire Department personnel who completed their probation period and those who were promoted over the past year were honored during Monday’s meeting. Fire Chief Mike Warner explained, “This recognition is long overdue. The promotions and graduations were right in the middle of COVID. While I know that we have the capabilities to recognize the accomplishment, I felt it means a lot more being in person with the family pinning on the badge in front of you at a public meeting for the people we serve.” 

Those recognized were:

  • Peter Hanlin was promoted to assistant fire chief. He is assigned the operations position.

  • Matt Lenz was promoted to captain. He is assigned to C shift.

  • Corey Ahern was promoted to lieutenant. He is assigned to A shift.

  • Luke O’Reilly was promoted to engineer. He is assigned to A shift.

  • Justin Hasler has passed his one year probation as a Firefighter/Paramedic. He is assigned to B shift.

  • Grady Nelson passed firefighter certification. He is assigned to Engine Company 4.

  • Cole Swanson passed firefighter certification. He is assigned to Engine Company 4.

  • Alec Whipple passed firefighter certification. He is assigned to Ladder Company 1.

  • Leo Dressen passed firefighter certification. He is assigned to Ladder Company 1.

  • Chris Zenner passed firefighter certification. He is assigned to Engine Company 1.

3. Duplex approved

The one item pulled from the consent agenda was the approval of a conditional-use permit to convert a house into a duplex at 2099 Hennings Ave. 

One individual spoke against the proposed duplex. She is a neighbor and stated that one of her main concerns would be a back entrance for the renters, which would be the only entrance for them. She added that without leaves on the tree her house looks down to that backyard, which has been quiet. 

Elizabeth Zimmermann, the owner of the property also spoke and explained that she owns the lot next door so she only has one immediate neighbor. She added, “I don’t think moving from one family to two families is going to disturb a lot of peace.”  

Zimmermann plans to retire in the home and she currently has parents who need an accessible entrance to her home. 

The council unanimously agreed that a duplex is a good use of the property.


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