Old crematorium would be replaced by parking lot.

Co-Operative Plating’s request for rezoning to allow for the expansion of its industrial operations in Merriam Park was recommended for approval on February 17 by the Saint Paul Planning Commission. That has some residents of Carroll Avenue concerned about the possibility of the metal electroplating plant encroaching on their neighborhood.

The company wants to rezone 1598 Carroll Ave. from traditional neighborhoods 2 to light industrial. The property was most recently home to a crematorium, which moved in August 2021. It is north of Co-Operative Plating’s existing plant, east of a company parking lot and adjacent to a neighborhood of mostly single-family homes. The Carroll Avenue property was rezoned from commercial to traditional neighborhoods 2 in 2017 as part of a South Snelling zoning study.

Co-Operative Plating would also like to rezone its one-story office building at 271 N. Snelling Ave. to light industrial. The office building was zoned for commercial use for many years. It was rezoned to industrial-transitional in 2017 as part of the South Snelling zoning study. Its proposed rezoning to light industrial has met no  opposition.

Plant would expand to the south

Plans call for demolishing the old crematorium at 1598 Carroll and adding 11 more surface parking spaces. That parking would replace the parking that will be lost when Co-Operative Plating’s manufacturing plant at 1605 Iglehart Ave. expands to the south.

Co-Op Plating has 115 employees working in three shifts five days per week. A 7,700-square-foot addition to the existing 38,000-square-foot plant is planned to improve efficiency and potentially make room for another 10 to 12 employees. Last year, the City Council vacated the short stretch of Iglehart that separates the company’s main plant from its offices to allow for the plant’s expansion.

Company has cleaned up its operations

Co-Op Plating has operated in Merriam Park for more than 50 years. It runs 18 separate metal plating coating lines. In the 1980s the company ran afoul of environmental regulations and faced penalties. It has since made many changes, including entering a voluntary compliance program with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, adding a scrubbing system to control emissions and dropping the use of trichlorethylene as a degreaser. That chemical has been linked to certain forms of cancer.

Neighbors register their concerns

The Union Park District Council has made no recommendation on the rezoning request. However, three neighbors sent letters in opposition. Doni Hamann, who has lived on Carroll since 1978, told of the days when green sludge ran down the alley near the plant. She is concerned about the possibility of manufacturing expanding closer to homes. She and other neighbors want assurances that the Carroll Avenue property would be used for parking only.

“This will directly impact our property values if we have manufacturing of plating on Carroll Avenue,” Hamann stated. “I have been selling real estate since 1984, and I can assure you this would have a grave impact on neighboring homes. Having new office space or a parking lot would not have the same impact.”

Planning Commission members asked if conditions, such as parking use only, could be placed on the Carroll Avenue property. According to senior city planner Kady Dadlez, the city may not impose conditions in conjunction with a rezoning. However, conditions on the lot, such as screening and vehicular access, can be made during site plan review, she said.

No reason to expand plant to north

David Birkemeier, president and CEO of Co-Op Plating, said plant officials have had many discussions with neighbors about the rezoning. According to him, the company wants to keep employees’ cars off of neighborhood streets. “And practically speaking, there isn’t a good business reason” to expand the plant to the north, he added.

The two rezoning requests have been forwarded to the City Council for a public hearing and a final vote. No date for the hearing has been set.

— Jane McClure


MyVillager welcomes comments from readers. Please include your full name and the neighborhood in which you live. Be respectful of others and stay on topic. We reserve the right to remove any comment we deem to be profane, rude, insulting or hateful. Comments will be reviewed before being published.

Leave a Reply