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Petitioners raise concerns about new Tuffy’s parking lot

Some Perham residents are saying ‘not in my backyard’ to a plan to put a new industrial parking lot in their neighborhood.

Fourteen affected homeowners have signed a petition against the parking lot, and last week they submitted a copy of that petition to the city. They also submitted a copy to the company planning to build and use the lot, Tuffy’s Pet Food.

Tuffy’s plans to keep the parking lot lighted at night, and will use it to store semi-trailers. Petitioners are concerned about light and noise pollution, as well as the possibility of decreased property values.

The petition gets those concerns out into the open, but it may have come too late to stop the parking lot from becoming a reality.

The city has already rezoned the land from “open” to “light industrial” to accommodate the parking lot. And no one shared any complaints or comments at a public hearing previously held on the matter.

Under the assumption that the public was on board with the plan, in late September, the city council voted to move ahead with it.

Petitioners acknowledge that the city followed all the necessary notification and legal procedures, and they don’t want to paint either the city or Tuffy’s as the ‘bad guy.’ Most of them simply overlooked the notifications they received, and just want to be heard.

Jim Legatt, who owns a home right next to the proposed parking lot, initiated the petition.

“A lot of people didn’t realize there was a meeting,” he said of the public hearing. “The city did follow all the correct procedures to let people know about it, but myself and a lot of my neighbors were unaware of it.”

If they had known sooner, he said, they would have spoken out against it.

Legatt said he understands that Tuffy’s and other industry has a positive impact on the town, but he wants to make sure the city maintains a good “buffer” between the residential and industrial areas.

He believes there are other, non-residential parcels in Perham where it would make more sense to put a parking lot like this, and he’d be willing to discuss his ideas with the city.

“If the land is rezoned, the property value of the land within eye view of it could suffer severely,” the petition states. “The traffic from the trucks, the noise from them moving trailers all night, and the lights from the parking lot could also become an issue with the families living in the area. Please help to keep the industrial park in the industrial park and out of our backyards.”

In a separate telephone interview, City Manager Kelcey Klemm said Perham city leaders are “very aware that we have residential properties there... we want to utilize the property in a way that makes sense, along with being sensitive to those residential properties.”

Klemm wasn’t sure whether changes could still be made to the parking lot plans at this point, but he said the city still owns another 40 acres in that same area of town which haven’t been rezoned, and residents’ concerns will be taken into account before decisions are made on the rest of that property.

The area that has already been rezoned includes two parcels along 3rd Street N.E., just west of the intersection with 450th Ave. The sale of the land to Tuffy’s was in process, but not yet complete, at press time.

When asked about the petition, Tuffy’s parent company, KLN Family Brands, released the following statement:

“KLN Family Brands was looking for additional trailer parking and went to the city for options. A few options were presented, and the 40 acres that had not been platted previously seemed like a solution for everyone. KLN Family Brands is in the process of purchasing three acres (two lots). We are aware of the concerns of the homeowners near the property and are presently in talks with the city to discuss a buffer solution between the homes and newly zoned area.”

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Perham Focus more than five years ago, and has since worn many hats as writer, editor and page designer. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their one-year-old son, Simon, and their yellow lab, Louisa. 

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