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Willmar City Council OKs rezoning for proposed ALDI grocery store

Acting on a request from I & S Group, an architectural and engineering working with ALDI Inc. of Faribault, the Willmar Council has approved rezoning this parcel of land at the intersection of Fifth Street Southeast and 19th Avenue Southeast from shopping center to general business. The site would be the home of a proposed ALDI store. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR — The Willmar City Council has voted to rezone a nearly 2-acre site southeast of the Kandi Mall to allow a proposed ALDI grocery store.

The council Monday night approved rezoning the parcel located at the intersection of Fifth Street Southeast and 19th Avenue Southeast from shopping center to general business.

The rezoning was requested by I & S Group, an architectural and engineering firm from Faribault that is working with ALDI Inc. of Faribault.

Andy Brandel, civil engineer with I & S Group, and Andrew Mack, ALDI director of real estate, attended the council meeting. During a public hearing on the rezoning, Brandel asked the council to approve the request.

“Our goal is to continue to move forward with a proposed ALDI grocery store on that site, and we have submitted plans to the city in the hopes that the rezoning can move forward and we can continue this process moving,’’ Brandel said.

Bruce Peterson, city planning and development director, said the parcel is not part of or tied to the Kandi Mall but is located in a shopping center zoning district. Peterson said the general business district zoning is less restrictive than the shopping center zoning district.

“The Planning Commission and staff believe that those standards are more applicable to this property than the mall zoning would be,’’ said Peterson in recommending the rezoning be approved. He said property to the south and east is all zoned general business.

No one from the public spoke in support or in opposition to the rezoning.

Council member Steve Ahmann expressed appreciation to Brandel and Mack for appearing before the council and he wished them luck.

Council member Jim Dokken asked if the proposed store is similar to an ALDI store in St. Cloud.

Mack said it was.

“That’s a great store. We’re glad you decided to come to Willmar,’’ said Dokken.

The council unanimously approved the rezoning.

In an interview Tuesday, Mack said the company hopes to begin construction by July and open in December if everything goes well with the approval process. He was unsure of the number of employees.

Peterson said Tuesday that an access issue to the proposed site needs to be resolved.

Now that the rezoning is approved, the Planning Commission will do a formal plan review in the near future, Peterson said. Plan review includes decisions on the site plan, setbacks, landscaping and storm water, he said.

ALDI’s website lists a number of location criteria, including a trade area population of more than 35,000 within 3 miles, and a site located in a community and regional shopping district with convenient access to population.

The website says ALDI has more than 1,300 stores in 32 states, primarily from Texas to the East Coast and stocks many of its own exclusive brands.

To keep prices low, ALDI charges customers 25 cents to use a shopping cart in the store. The website says the shopping cart rental system is one of many ALDI efficiencies that enable the company to keep prices low.

The website says customers get their deposit back and there are no stray carts taking up space in the parking lot or causing dents to cars. By not having to hire someone to police the shopping carts, according to the website, ALDI is able to pass the savings on to customers.

Also, ALDI encourages customers to bring their own shopping bags or to purchase a reusable, long-lasting ALDI bag.

“The end result is that we not only save our customers money by avoiding adding the cost of the bag to our prices but also precious resources,’’ said the website.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150