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Falconer given the OK to expand

How much more traffic can Old Tyler Road take?

Red Wing City Council members asked that question Monday when considering whether to allow John Falconer to expand his winery at its current site.

After a long debate, the council approved Falconer's bid to add a covered courtyard, where he plans to sell pizza, beer and wine.

Falconer needs a permit for the expansion -- designated as an "outdoor entertainment facility" -- because his property is zoned agricultural.

The new facility will better allow Falconer to host weddings, wine sales and concerts.

The council voted 5-2 in favor of the permit. Council members Dean Hove and Ralph Rauterkus dissented.

Some of Falconer's neighbors told city officials they had concerns with his planned expansion -- especially the narrow and unpaved Old Tyler Road.

"His (Falconer's) property is on a dead end road that is gravel, the dust, traffic, and noise is already out of control right now with the traffic going to the winery on his property," wrote neighbor Robert Bodin in a letter to Red Wing's Advisory Planning Commission.

The council tried to work out a compromise.

To tackle the dust problem, the council decided to bill Falconer for grading and spraying Old Tyler Road as part of his permit.

The council stipulated all amplified music would have to stop at 10:30 p.m. to limit noise and no roadside parking will be allowed.

The council, however, rejected the idea of laying blacktop on Old Tyler Road, a measure the planning commission had called for.

"It's stupid to put $40,000 to $50,000 on an asphalt road that's temporary," Council member Jerry Cook said, noting that more improvements will be needed, such as installing water and sewer lines, as land along Old Tyler Road is developed.

Part of the council's dilemma was anticipating when that development may occur. It could mean waiting out the volatile housing market.

"I think this is ridiculous not to pave it," Council member Dean Hove said. "There's a lot of traffic that's going to be out there."

Cost also drove the council's decision not to pave the road. Hove suggested -- since it was going to benefit Falconer -- Falconer should pay for the paving costs.

Details to be discussed later

If Falconer's expansion is to proceed, he'll need to hammer out a developer's agreement with the city detailing how much he needs to pay for dust control and possible future road improvements.

That agreement will go before the council for approval at a future meeting.

For his project to be a go, Falconer must also acquire a restaurant license from the state.