Proposed high school athletic complex in Mendota Heights stirs controversy

A proposed athletic complex at Henry Sibley High School in Mendota Heights is good news for students, but some neighbors who live nearby have concerns about the project.

Becky and Jerry Petschen have lived across the street from Henry Sibley High School in Mendota Heights for more than 25 years.

“We have a very quiet neighborhood,” said Becky. 

The plan to build a $6 million athletic stadium on school grounds has the Petschens and other residents making some noise. 

“We all support the school, all voted for the referendum,” said Becky. “We want to see them get a new stadium. We just don’t want it right here.”

The plan is to build the athletic stadium on land located northwest of the school. Problem is, some residents say that it’s too close to their homes. The proposal calls for light poles, bleachers, and a press box, which all exceed the city’s residential height code of 15 feet.

“We have the light issue,” said Jerry. “We have the noise issue the parking issue and the traffic issue.”

To build the stadium, that will host high school football, soccer and lacrosse games, the district is asking the city to deviate from zoning standards.

Thursday night, residents and students, packed the city’s planning commission meeting to weigh in.

“I fundamentally think that the school has failed to prove that this will not alter the essential character of our neighborhood,” said one resident.

“The yes to the variances, that’s an easy yes and I’m super happy to support it and I’m just going to encourage you to support it too,” said another resident.

The Planning Commission ended up voting in favor of the variances. The issue now goes to the City Council.