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DSU asked to look at parking options; city commission tables request - Daily Leader Extra : Top Stories

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DSU asked to look at parking options; city commission tables request

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Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2019 2:56 pm

Dakota State University officials were asked on Monday by the city to spend the next two weeks looking for options to plans to provide vehicle parking at a new student housing location in central Madison.

The Madison City Commission decided to table a request made by DSU officials to occupy municipal rights-of-way along N. Van Eps Ave. and N.W. 3rd St. to provide parking for university students living in DSU-provided housing. The building on the corner across from St. Thomas School was previously used as the St. Thomas Catholic Convent.

DSU officials plan to have room for 23 students to live in the former convent. They want to develop 21 off-street parking spaces in the rights-of-way and the alley of the lot.

About 16 persons attended Monday's city commission meeting to speak for and against the proposal. Many of the attendees were neighborhood residents. DSU was represented by Steve Bartel, housing director; Corey Braskamp, facilities director; Jim Jacobsen, student affairs vice president; and Dick Ericsson, a Madison attorney.

The DSU representatives said the university plans to have juniors and seniors and graduate students living in the building. In the parking plan, DSU would install 21 off-street parking spaces and would have the responsibility for maintaining them and handling snow removal. DSU would also have responsibility for developing, graveling and maintaining and handling snow removal for the alley adjacent to the property.

Area residents expressed concerns about issues that included traffic congestion, elementary student safety issues, and a new group of college students moving into the neighborhood.

Some residents said the college students would need to negotiate vehicle and pedestrian traffic related to the K-5 students attending St. Thomas School across the street. Other residents were concerned about how university students would "fit" into the mostly residential neighborhood. One neighbor was concerned about student cars parked in the alley backing into her yard.

Several of the residents wanted to learn about DSU's future plans for the property. Some residents said no one from DSU had told them about plans to use the former convent or parking changes, and they had only received information from St. Thomas Church, which was the property's former owner, and information published in The Daily Leader.

Commissioner Mike Waldner said that the St. Thomas Church neighborhood wouldn't necessarily see disruption from university students living in the building. Waldner said that his home is located among housing used by DSU students, and he notices their presence only occasionally.

Chad Comes, city engineer, said that the neighborhood was zoned R-20 so the university could use the building as a rooming house by obtaining a conditional-use permit. Ericsson and David Jencks, city attorney, spoke about how universities in South Dakota are given by state government sovereignty over their property to handle their own planning and development of university-owned land. With that sovereignty, the Board of Regents would have authority over the land use.

Jencks reminded the commissioners that the only issue before them on Monday night was the issue of allowing rights-of-way use for parking.

When asked by city officials about the time needed to install the boulevard parking, Braskamp estimated workers would need about two to three weeks.

The commissioners decided to table the request for two weeks to give DSU officials more time to find alternatives to boulevard parking next to the former convent.

The commissioners asked the DSU officials to look for options to the proposed boulevard parking. Commissioner Kelly Johnson made a motion to table DSU's request for two weeks, and Commissioner Bob Thill seconded the motion. The commissioners and Mayor Marshall Dennert approved the motion with Waldner abstaining.

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