City set to approve 24-hour Kowalski’s

Neighbors living next door to Kowalski’s, 5327 Lyndale Ave. S., failed to block the Tangletown grocery store from staying open 24 hours a day.

The Planning Commission had approved Kowalski’s request to extend operations beyond its permitted 6 a.m.-midnight hours. Neighbors appealed to the City Council. The Zoning and Planning Committee rejected their appeal and the full Council is expected to follow suit Friday, April 2.

Velta Zeltins, Seth Redfield and Dolly Purcell all live on the block immediately east of Kowalski’s on Garfield Avenue South and opposed the extended hours at a March 25 public hearing at Zoning and Planning Committee.

Their complaints focused on current traffic and congestion problems caused by Kowalski’s delivery trucks, which enter and exit off of Garfield.

The trucks would park on a no parking side of the street, some said. "No parking" signs were getting knocked down. Congestion made drivers irritable and they would honk. Kowalski’s employees took up residential parking spots. Tight maneuvering space meant trucks had to back off Garfield into the loading dock area.

"They [the trucks] are practically driving into my living room," Zeltins said.

"All we are looking for is a little respite," Redfield said.

"So far, we have not had the needs we have presented met," Purcell said. "Why should we believe things will be alright from midnight to 6 in the morning?"

Mike Oase, a Kowalski’s representative, said the store is constantly talking to its vendors, trying to improve delivery. He said the store did care about its relationship with its immediate neighbors and was working to address problems. "It is in our interests," he said.

Several Committee members said they sympathized with the neighbors’ concerns. Committee Chair Gary Schiff (9th Ward) said Kowalski’s needed to live up to its conditional-use permit or the city could take enforcement action — up to and including revoking Kowalski’s license.

Neighbor Alex MacMurdo said Kowalski’s was a welcome addition to the neighborhood, but he didn’t think 24-hour operations served neighborhood interests. If people needed a 24-hour store, they could go to Lunds, 6228 Penn Ave. S. or Cub at 60th Street and Nicollet Avenue South.

City Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) said the existence of other 24-hour grocery stores was exactly the reason the city should approve Kowalski’s request. Denying it would create unfair competition with other stores.

Council President Paul Ostrow said a 24-hour Kowalski’s is "a service to the community."

"I don’t think there is an undue impact [on neighbors] if these issues are addressed," he said.