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Driving school flunks first test

Century College flunked its most recent test in Afton.

At a planning commission meeting on Sept. 8, the college asked if it could install a temporary classroom on its land at Hudson Road while a permanent building is constructed as part of its truck driving school.

According to Lonnie Provencher, a representative from Northmarq, the company which is negotiating on behalf of Century College, work on the school's driving track, around which student truckers can practice, will be finished by Thanksgiving.

The permanent building containing classrooms, however, will not be complete until May next year.

Provencher explained that Century College staff were keen to get students using the new track as soon as possible -- in December, perhaps -- but were requesting the all-clear to place an extra trailer (in addition to a construction company trailer) on site between May and December so students could study at the location.

Planning commissioners were not so sure the plan was a good one.

"I think it was the understanding for most of us... that you were going to build it and then use it, not have a temporary usage amidst all of the construction," said commissioner Anne Knutson.

"Nowhere in the public hearings or plans was it mentioned, 'We will set up temporary classrooms to get going while construction is happening.'

"It seems a little devious to me at this point... It's too bad you are behind on construction, but that's not our fault."

Century College was granted a conditional use permit (CUP) by the city council in May.

The permit allowed the school, located at 14386 Hudson Road South, to operate on land owned by FedEx.

During the building of the property, one construction trailer will be on site, and commissioners heard that a second trailer, housing an electrical team, would likely make an appearance on the land, which borders I-94, for a period of time.

"How many trailers are we going to have up there?" asked vice chair Barbara Ronningen. "We are already up to three -- we are going to have a trailer park.

"If Century College wants to have classrooms, they already have some up in White Bear Lake. They should use those, in my opinion."

Provencher was told Century College could apply for an amendment to its CUP to permit the temporary classroom if it wished, although another public hearing would have to be held first.