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Wright County News  

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


Buffalo Council Approves Resolution Allowing for New Multi-Level Apartment Building on 1st Avenue NW 

This week the Buffalo City Council voted to approve a resolution allowing re-zoning and a Planned Unit Development paving the way for a new high-density apartment building on 1st Avenue Northwest and 3rd Street Northwest in the downtown Buffalo area. The site for many years was the location of the former St. Francis Xavier school. The development plan calls for a 5-story housing structure on the site. You may remember that a week earlier, the Buffalo Planning Commission, after lengthy discussion and input from the public, had voted 6 to 1 to recommend a scaled-down, three-story brick structure to better fit with historic buildings in the area such as the St. Francis church, and lessen the visual impact for residents of the neighborhood. Buffalo City Council Member Steve Downer, who is the council's representative on the Planning Commission, presented information on the recommendations from the commission. Downer summarized the concerns of residents of the neighborhood, which included parking, traffic, a potential increase in crime, a lack of green space, and the abrupt transition from traditional, early to mid-century single-family homes common in the neighborhood to high-density housing. He explained that while some of those who spoke at the open forum portion of the recent Planning Commission meeting were in favor of the project, most were not, and, in fact, many did not approve of even the scaled-back suggestions for the site. Downer offered a motion for the council to approve the Planning Commission's recommendations for the scaled-back plan, but the motion failed for lack of a second. The discussion then turned back to the original plan. Council Member Scott Enter said he had given lengthy and careful consideration to the issue, and had even consulted previous Buffalo mayors about their opinion of the plan as he highly respected their service to the community during their time in public office. Enter said the city is in great need for housing to help the long-range revitalization of the downtown, and that development of the project called "The Lofts" apartments is in line with existing long-range plans. He therefore made a motion to approve the re-zoning of the site, and the original Planned Unit Development for the apartment structure. Council Member Eric Anderson seconded the motion. He reminded those present and residents in general, that the aesthetics of the area will change regardless of the apartment concept, as the council has already approved construction of a new fire station on the same block. He said the development fits with the city's overall plans. Mayor Teri Lachermeier said the Planning Commission process was difficult, but necessary, and was well-done. The mayor said addressing the issues that the downtown area has been facing for many years, while hard, is needed. Before the vote, Council Member Downer had a final word of dissent, saying that he thought the action was a mistake, but that he hoped that he would be shown he was wrong. On a 4 to 1 vote, the council then approved the first resolution.

Two-Car Crash in Buffalo Injures One 

A two-vehicle traffic crash in Buffalo Tuesday evening left one person injured. The State Patrol says around 7:20 PM Tuesday, a Toyota Prius was northbound on Highway 25, and attempted to make a left turn onto 14th Street. The Prius turned in front of an oncoming Chevy Impala that was southbound on Highway 25, and the vehicles collided in the intersection. The driver of the Prius, 24-year-old Kemil Casey of Buffalo, was not injured. The driver of the Impala, 55-year-old Deborah Lanars of Rockford sustained non-life threatening injuries and was treated at the Buffalo Hospital. A passenger in her car, 24-year-old Lucas Lanars, also of Rockford, was not injured. The Buffalo Police and Allina Medical also responded to the scene. 

No-Wake Zone in Effect on Lake Pulaski 

A no-wake zone is now in effect on another Wright County lake. Monday night the Buffalo City Council approved a request from the Lake Pulaski Lake Improvement District to endorse a 30-day declaration for a no-wake zone of 600 feet from the shoreline to help curb shoreline erosion and other damage due to high lake levels. The LID needed approval from the council as the governing entity to ask the Minnesota DNR to allow implementation of the no-wake zone. The pumps that help to control the level on Lake Pulaski haven't been able to be used recently because the levels on Buffalo Lake are also too high to allow any additional water to be pumped from Lake Pulaski. Additional heavy rains this week have only added to the problem. The Wright County Sheriff's Office is responsible for enforcement of the emergency no-wake zone, which will be in effect for 30 days, but could be extended if high water levels continue. 

Summer Storms Blow Through Wright County, Much of Metro 

The extended hot, humid weather spawned late afternoon thunderstorms that roared through much of our area late Monday afternoon and into the early evening. Between 4 and 6 PM, a few waves of heavy rain, thunder, lightning, and in some places, hail moved through our area. Residents of Monticello, Montrose, Waverly and Delano all reported hail from pea size to a few areas that had 1 inch or larger hail. The Wright County Sheriff's Department acknowledges some downed trees and large branches, but no reports of widespread property damage, and no injuries were reported. Street flooding was common in many of the west metro communities where brief heavy rains fell. KRWC Radio received listener reports of 4 inches east of Rockford, and more than 7 inches of rain reportedly fell north of Loretto. The National Weather service is also investigating reports of a tornado in the south metro community of Belle Plaine. Forecasters say unstable weather could result in more shower and thunderstorm activity over the next couple of days. 

Sheriff's Office Investigating Recent Delano Burglaries 

The Wright County Sheriff's Office is investigating more burglaries from automobiles that were reported in recent days. The Delano Herald Journal reports that last week, at least three burglaries from unlocked autos were reported in the western portion of the community. Two vehicles were reportedly burglarized at a residence in the 600 block of Watertown Avenue, where burglars reportedly stole a wallet and a purse. Two other vehicles were also reported to have been burglarized in the 600 block of Ridgewood Lane, where several items including cash and debit cards were reported to have been taken from one of the vehicles. Officials say however, that unlike the burglaries in the on-going string of crimes throughout Wright County and west metro communities seen earlier this summer, there did not appear to have been any attempt to enter garages or homes in the recent incidents in Delano. The Sheriff's Office investigation is continuing, and anyone with information is asked to contact authorities. In the meantime, authorities say locking your home and automobiles, and keeping valuables out of sight is a good first step in preventing burglaries. 

Minnesota Study Shows Kids From Lower-Income Families Eat More Sugar in Summer 

Away from the school lunchroom during the summer months, kids tend to consume more sugar, and research by the University of Minnesota shows it's even more pronounced for those whose families experience food insecurity. Roz Brown reports in our on-air news throughout the day. Officials with the Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School District remind area residents of the free breakfast and lunch programs available this summer at the Discovery and Northwinds Elementary schools in Buffalo, and the Montrose Elementary school in Montrose. The program runs weekdays through August 23rd.

MN Health Commissioner Says Battle Against Opioid-Related Deaths Continues Despite Encouraging Numbers 

There were encouraging numbers released in recent days showing opioid-related deaths in Minnesota were down in 2018. Although the news was good, State Health Commissioner Jan Malcom says the battle is far from won. She says even more can be done moving forward to keep the numbers down. Preliminary numbers show opioid deaths declined 22-percent from 2017 to 2018, and there was a 32-percent decrease in prescription opioid-involved deaths over the past year. However, synthetic opioids were linked to more deaths than prescription drugs for the first time, with 94-percent of those deaths involving fentanyl. Final numbers are expected to be released in September.

Red Cross Urges Minnesotans to Donate Blood 

The Red Cross is trying to restock its reserve of donated blood. Spokeswoman Sue Thesenga says they often see a drop in donations during peak vacation windows like the 4th of July. You can search for blood drives in your area by visiting;

Motorcyclist Injured in Saturday Evening Crash in St. Michael 

A motorcyclist was injured in a Saturday evening traffic crash in St. Michael. The State Patrol reports that around 9 PM Saturday, a motorcycle was eastbound on I-94 when a passenger car made an illegal u-turn from the westbound to the eastbound lanes of the freeway and struck the motorcycle. The motorcycle rider, 56-year-old Timothy Phelon of Eagan, had non-life threatening injuries and was taken to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale. The driver of the sedan, 29-year-old Capri Martin of Minneapolis, was not injured. The Wright County Sheriff's Office and the St. Michael Fire and Rescue assisted the State Patrol. 

Two Injured in Car vs. Motorhome Crash in Otsego 

Two people were injured when a car and a motorhome collided in Otsego late last week. The State Patrol reports around 3:40 PM July 11th, a Coachmen RV and a passenger car were both eastbound on I-94 in Otsego. Officials say the sedan made a lane change and struck the RV. The impact caused the car to run off the freeway to the right and it entered the right ditch where it struck a tree and rolled onto its roof. Injured in the crash was the driver of the passenger car, 29-year-old Omar Younis of St. Cloud had serious but non-life threatening injuries and was taken to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale. One of two passengers also had non-life threatening injuries. 76-year-old Kim Nguyen of St. Cloud was also taken to North Memorial. Another passenger, a 41-year-old man from Waite Park was not injured. The driver of the RV, a 74-year-old man from Minot, North Dakota, was not injured. CentraCare Ambulance assisted the State Patrol. 


These stories and more follow the Westwood One and MNN network news in our Wright County News at 6:10, 7:10, &  8:10 AM and 12:10, 4:10, 5:10, & 6:10 PM on AM 1360 / KRWC.