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Sauk Rapids City Council Denies Request for Proposed Somali Preschool in Industrial Park [AUDIO]

Photo by’s Jim Maurice

SAUK RAPIDS – The Sauk Rapids City Council has voted to deny a request for a Conditional Use Permit for a planned preschool and daycare center.  The council voted 3-2 against the request for the proposal at 1007 Industrial Drive, next door to North Crest Gymnastics, because it’s in an industrial park.

Ismail Ali had hoped to open the program for Somali students called  Hashiro Academy, with programming for about 60 kids.

Jim Knoblach owns the property and building under the name Northstar Properties.  He says he built the building in 2003, with the original tenant Sister Rosalind’s School of Massage.

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Knoblach says he’ll look at what options are available to him, including asking the city to rezone the property.

City Attorney Adam Ripple argued that the proposed preschool and the North Crest Gymnastics are two different types of businesses.  He says North Crest is not a school, while the proposed business would be.  Council member Paul Weber says he feels the two businesses are more alike than they are not alike.  While Council member Steve Heinen says while the building may be a good fit for a preschool and daycare, it’s not in an appropriate area.

Mohamed Mohamed of the St. Cloud Area Somali Salvation Organization says there are more than 10,000 Somalians living in the St. Cloud area now. And, he says this type of a program is needed.  He says he had hopes of this being their first business they brought to Sauk Rapids with many others to follow.

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