Eagan City Council Approves Arts Center Over Neighbors' Objections

    During a marathon five-hour meeting, the Eagan City Council July 18 unanimously approved a permit that will allow a local non-profit to operate a controversial arts studio in a long-vacant city building.
    In announcing their decision, some members of the council expressed hope that the arts center will bring an end to the issue of what to do with the empty building which councilors said, because of deferred maintenance, would be expensive to return to city use.
   The conditional use permit will allow local non-profit Art Works Eagan to move forward with the purchase of 3795 Pilot Knob Road, formerly an administration building for the city’s fire department. The organization plans to convert the building into studio space for a variety of artists. Neighbors of the facility expressed particular concern about live performances that could be held in the space and emissions from kilns that will be installed.
Despite the late hour of the discussion, the council declined the suggestion to postpone the decision. Members of the council noted they had read hundreds of pages of emails, letters, and comments made at a previous planning commission about the issue. The permit included a modified list of conditions regarding use of the site.
     Neighbors told the planning commission and city council the arts center would destroy the character of their “quiet neighborhood” off Pilot Knob Road and that emissions from pottery kilns at the site could pose a health hazard.
     Proponents of the arts facility told the commission the kilns would be professionally installed by an experienced company with experience installing such equipment at art studios throughout the country. Such kilns have also been installed in Minnesota schools.

Neighbors of a proposed arts center at 3795 Pilot Knob Road turned out in force at city hearings about a permit for the site.