Friday, December 19, 2014

BNSF planning small office building project

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 8/4/2014

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway plans to add more workspace to its existing facilities on Junction Avenue in north Ottawa.

The Ottawa Planning Commission approved last week a site plan for a 2,340-square-foot metal building to be constructed on a 1.5-acre site on the railroad’s property at 122 Junction Avenue, a small street accessible by railroad employees. The building would be located just west of North Main Street at the railroad overpass, according to the site plan.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway plans to add more workspace to its existing facilities on Junction Avenue in north Ottawa.

The Ottawa Planning Commission approved last week a site plan for a 2,340-square-foot metal building to be constructed on a 1.5-acre site on the railroad’s property at 122 Junction Avenue, a small street accessible by railroad employees. The building would be located just west of North Main Street at the railroad overpass, according to the site plan.

“It is the site of the former Santa Fe Railway infirmary,” Wynndee Lee, the city’s planning and codes director, said.

The building, which would be 18 feet tall, would be primarily office space, according to a city planning staff memo.

Jim Long, BNSF’s project engineer, said the railway would like to begin construction of the “maintenance of way” building as soon as possible. A maintenance of way building, by railroad industry definition, typically is a mixed-use facility that could include a shop area, spare parts storage and administrative support offices.

It was not clear if the railway’s new intermodal facility near Edgerton and Gardner prompted the need for additional office space. BNSF officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

“[BNSF] would like to begin construction as soon as they can,” Long, with engineering firm Allenbrand-Drews & Associates Inc. of Olathe, said. “It’s a small building, so it should only take a few months to construct.”

The site is accessed from Junction Avenue, which is improved with asphalt for 180 feet west of North Main Street, according to the planning staff memo.

“Considering the limited use of the street, the developer has agreed to improve 92 feet further west with a chip and seal surface,” the staff memo said. “The driveway and parking area, improved with asphalt, will be accessed from the west limits of the new improvement. In addition, as the street accesses only the BNSF facilities, and understanding there are grade problems at the Main Street intersection, staff recommends that the required sidewalk improvements be waived. Again, considering the limited traffic generated on Junction Avenue, the plan minimizes traffic impact. The developer has also agreed to dedicate 20 feet of right-of-way for Junction Avenue.”

The area surrounding the property is a mix of commercial and industrial uses, Lee said, and the project is consistent with the existing development pattern and will be compatible with the surrounding area.

The proposed use of the site is offices, city planners said in the memo, which is more closely related to commercial property.

“The proposed project is consistent with the [city’s] comprehensive plan,” planning staff said in recommending approval of the project. “The site plan also meets the development standards, with respect to parking and landscaping, in the [city’s] zoning regulations.”

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