The Prior Lake City Council has upheld its decision on a controversial County Road 42 project that has divided residents and business owners, who council members urged to contact Scott County commissioners with their complaints.
The City Council voted 3-2 on Monday against reconsidering its decision two weeks earlier, when it voted to close the connection between Commerce Avenue and County Road 42.
The chosen design would replace an entry point to businesses at Commerce and Boudin Street with a cul-de-sac. Other options would send more cars into the nearby Rutgers residential neighborhood.
Council Member Richard Keeney asked to revisit the discussion after business owners publicly argued that they weren’t adequately informed.
“Make a complaint to [county commissioners] directly … Unfortunately, our hands are tied,” Council Member Monique Morton said Monday after declining to take up the matter again. “But I’m not comfortable with unilaterally affecting that neighborhood.”
Scott County has been planning for a decade to rebuild the stretch of County Road 42 — a critical artery in Scott and Dakota counties — near Hwy. 13. Construction of the $12.7 million project is scheduled to begin in 2018.
Prior Lake’s vote is considered “municipal consent” for the project, and the design is final unless the Scott County Board decides to overturn it.
Residents of the Rutgers neighborhood urged council members not to reconsider the vote after negotiating with city and county officials since January.
But business owners criticized county officials for not keeping them up to date on the project — a sentiment that was echoed by Mayor Ken Hedberg, one of the two council members who voted for reconsideration.
“It was a flawed process,” Hedberg said. “Many of the businesses didn’t know about it.”
During an hourlong forum before the council’s vote, business owners on Commerce Avenue spoke about traffic safety concerns and fears that the road closure would inconvenience their customers.
Many of the businesses — which include dentists and orthodontists, a driver’s license bureau and a UPS store — have been branded as “destinations” whose clients will visit regardless of how hard it is to reach them. But owners disagreed.
“It is wrong for the businesses, employees and customers of this area,” said Kellie Davison, who owns the license bureau. “We risk losing customers, downsizing staff and even going out of business.”
Zach Braid, a resident of the Rutgers neighborhood whose home could be subject to eminent domain under the other options, criticized the county’s process for seeking input from affected property owners. He suggested better outreach programs or the use of social media to garner feedback.
“That’s a much larger conversation,” Braid said. “We are all one Prior Lake, and we are looking for a better solution than what the county has been providing to us.”