Coffee shop plans percolating on Central Avenue

A coffee shop near the corner of Highway 23 and Central Avenue is a step closer to reality after plans gained the approval of the Milaca Planning Commission on Monday, Feb. 11.
Scott and Cheryl Minks, of Foley, doing business as Cherscot Inc. and owners of the Coffee Corner at 502 S. Second St., Princeton, plan on opening a similar business called Coffee Corner, Too at 350 Central Ave. S. in Milaca.
There are three houses on the west side of the 300 block of Central Avenue South. The Minks want to turn the middle house into a coffee shop with drive-thru service.
The property is zoned B-2 commercial, but a conditional use permit is needed in order to have drive-thru service at the coffee shop, said Milaca Zoning Administrator Marshall Lind. For that reason, a public hearing was held prior to the Planning Commission meeting.
During the hearing, nearby resident Tom Sauer expressed concern about the effect of increased traffic on nine residences in close proximity to the proposed coffee shop.
Jen VanDonsel, owner of the home, said she lived in the home for five years and it was always a busy corner. She said that would be no different with a coffee shop on the corner.
VanDonsel spoke in favor of the plan, stating that it would be great to have something new for Milaca.
Bonnie Hogan lives across an alley from the proposed coffee shop. She said she, too, worries about traffic — especially if two-way traffic were to remain in the alley.
Scott Minks said he favored one-way traffic in the alley flowing from the north to the south.
“That would ease traffic and stop traffic jams,” he said.
With the public hearing closed, Planning Commission Chairman Scott Harlicker and Members Arla Johnson, Luke Kotsmith and Pam Novak voted unanimously to approve the conditional use permit — but not before setting five conditions on the plans.
Four of the conditions came from Lind, in his staff report to Planning Commission members: the drive-thru needs to be 5 feet from the north and south property lines; fencing is needed to block light from cars using the drive-thru and keep it from infringing upon the homes to the north and south; there must be five off-street parking spots available to patrons of the coffee shop; and there must be an understanding that once the residence becomes a commercial property, it may never again be a residential property under Milaca’s zoning laws.
Harlicker authored a fifth condition that was approved by the Planning Commission: to give the alley one-way access.
Harlicker expressed concern not only about congested traffic but also about the width of the alley.
“It’s not wide enough for two-way traffic,” he said.
Hogan, the neighbor to the west, also noted that the people living immediately west of the proposed coffee shop all back their vehicles out into the alley when leaving their properties.
As the commission got ready to vote, Lind informed commission members that he received no letter or comment from residents opposing the proposed project.
The Milaca City Council will take up the Planning Commission’s recommendation at its Thursday, Feb. 20, meeting.