Planning Commission recommends KC Hall changes

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

The New Prague Planning and Zoning Commission recommended some changes at the Knights of Columbus Hall in New Prague, specifically a request for a preliminary and final plat and an addition to the hall.

Members of the KC Hall's board of directors made the requests at the commission's Wednesday, April 23, meeting. The two requests were connected - the plat was needed so the organization could obtain a building permit for the small addition it is planning to the front of the structure at 411 Fourth Ave SW (Highway 13/21 S).

The property was originally not platted, but was measured in a metes and bounds legal description. The area is 57,277 square feet and meets the setback requirements on the rear and the sides, although it encroaches into the front 40-foot setback by about 18 feet.

New Prague planning intern Ryan Streff noted that the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn DOT) supported the closing of the northern-most access point to the property. There are two accesses to the area - both from the highway.

During the public hearing for the plat, Joe Pexa of the KC Hall's board of directors explained that the organization had plans to refurbish the building.

Tom Simek, another board member, said the group wanted the addition to make the structure look more impressive.

The addition to the building would be an 8-foot by 12-foot vestibule on the front. It would be built around the current front doors, which face the west and would provide wind cover. The doors to the vestibule would face the south and would help prevent heat loss by providing a double-door system.

Ken Ondich, acting planning director, noted the addition would provide handicap access. It also would make the hall line up with the Dairy Queen to the north, although city staff didn't feel that was an adequate reason for providing the addition. Also, the vestibule would cause the hall to encroach even more into the front setback.

While city staff recommended approval of the plat, it felt the addition should be denied.

Chair Grant Gengel said he originally had a lot of problems with the addition to the hall, but he had thought about it.

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