- DRAFT -
SUNFISH LAKE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – JULY 16, 2014
7:00 P.M. - ST. ANNE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Chair: Andrea McCue
Commissioners: Tom Schlehuber, Tom Hendrickson, and Ginny Beckett.
City Planner: Michelle Barness
City Clerk: Cathy Iago
Commissioner Shari Hansen was absent.
1. CALL TO ORDER: Chair McCue called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
2. ADOPT AGENDA: Chair McCue asked if there were any additions to the agenda and there was no response.
Commissioner Beckett moved to adopt the agenda, seconded by Commissioner Hendrickson and carried. (4-0)
3. APPROVE MINUTES JUNE 18, 2014: Chair McCue asked if there were any additions or corrections to June, 2014 Planning Commission minutes and there was no response.
Commissioner Beckett moved to approve the June 18, 2014 Planning Commission minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Schlehuber and carried. (4-0)
4. PUBLIC HEARING; Shoreline and Side Yard Setback Variance Review, 345 Salem Church Road, Mr. & Mrs. Schaefer: Chair McCue opened the public hearing for the property at 345 Salem Church Road and asked the Planner to review the application.
Planner Barness explained the applicants are requesting approval of a variance to allow the construction of a one-stall garage addition on their existing home. She stated the property is zoned R-1 Single Family Residential and is in the Shoreland Overlay District. She advised that the subject parcel is narrow and if required setbacks were applied, there would be minimal buildable area remaining. As a result the existing home and attached garage are legally non-conforming as pertain to the required 200 ft. shoreline setback. She noted that the Zoning Ordinance states that legally non-conforming uses may be expanded to improve livability, but the expansion may not increase the non-conformity. She explained that the proposed garage expansion would be away from the shoreline but within the required setback area and therefore the applicants are requesting a variance from the shoreline setback. She further advised that the garage expansion was angled to avoid the removal of a well established pine tree and that this results in a side setback to the south of only 35 ft. whereas a 50 ft. setback is required. The applicants are also requesting a variance from the side yard setback to be able to construct the garage expansion in the described manner and location.
The Planner explained that when this is an older lot and when it was established all the setback requirements were met by the existing buildings. She advised that the setback regulations were changed and the entire garage is now located within the setback, therefore any change to the structure would require a variance. She stated the existing garage is two stalls with a floor area of approximately 480 sq. ft. and also has a basement. The proposed garage addition is 592 sq. ft., bringing the total area of the attached garage to approximately 1,072 sq. ft., which meets the zoning code requirements. She further explained that the proposed expansion also meets the following code requirements for the R-1 Single Family District; maximum building coverage on the lot and building height limitation. She stated the lot coverage cannot exceed 10% and the proposal is at 2% and that the height requirements cannot exceed 30 ft. and the building would be 11 ft. in height. She advised that the proposal meets the following Shoreland Overlay District Standards; building setback from the property line located adjacent to street and maximum lot coverage by impervious surface. She noted the setback adjacent to the street cannot exceed 100 ft. and the garage expansion would be an estimated 515 ft. from the street and that the maximum lot coverage by impervious surface cannot exceed 30% and the expansion is estimated at 7%. She commented that the expansion meets the front setback from the south and the side setbacks to the east and west, but requires variances from the south side setback and the shoreland setback to the north.
Planner Barness stated that the proposed building materials would be cedar shakes and cedar boards to match existing materials on the home and garage; these materials are approved finishes in the Zoning Code. She advised that permanent structures on lakes must have a lowest floor elevation at a level at least three feet above the highest known water level, or three feet above the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM), whichever is higher. She explained that there would be no excavation or change to the floor elevation on the existing structure. She noted that the City Code permits an attached garage not exceeding 1,250 sq. ft. and the garage with the proposed expansion would be approximately 1,100 sq. ft. and therefore meets requirements.
The Planner stated that the garage expansion had been angled to minimize the requirement for additional driveway area and impervious surface and to protect a mature pine tree south of the home which provides natural screening. She explained that the architect for the project confirmed that no tree would be removed for this project and pointed out that supplemental screening between the east side of the garage and the lake and the south side of the garage and the adjacent property in that direction remains open for discussion by the Commission. She advised that the Zoning Ordinance requires screening to mitigate visual impacts from the proposed garage expansion. She noted that the proposed addition has no impact on the existing septic system.
Planner Barness advised that a minimal amount of grading and excavation is proposed with the garage expansion and no garage basement is proposed, reducing the need for excavation. She noted that the Shoreland Overlay District limits the impervious surface coverage of lots to not exceed 30% of the lot area. She explained that more than 600 sq. ft. of hard surface would be added to the site with the proposed project and the increase in rate and volume of stormwater runoff that results should be mitigated. She explained that the City Engineer was in the course of reviewing additional information pertaining to drainage and stormwater management that had just been provided within the last week. She noted that it is possible that additional stormwater management measures may be required upon completion of that review.
Keith Heaver, architect for the project, explained that the engineer for the project had sent a letter explaining that the additional impervious surface would have little impact on the stormwater and drainage. He asked if the Planner had received the information.
Planner Barness responded yes, but advised that the Engineer’s review of the documentation and his report were still pending.
The Planner explained that the application process considers all performance standards and evaluates the proposal with established criteria as listed in her report. She stated that in reviewing the application staff found that the proposal is compatible with surrounding structures and preserves the character of the surrounding community. Further she advised the proposed improvements would be constructed of approved materials.
Planner Barness stated that the City does not limit the number of stalls for garages, but does limit the size of both attached and detached structures. She explained that a silt fence would be implemented to the north of the structure to prevent erosion to the lake.
The Planner explained that residents within 1,000 ft. of the property receive notice of the public hearing and may review plans and express concerns to staff or at the public hearing. She stated she received calls with concerns relating to the size of the garage, allowing a variance within the Shoreland District and questioning if screening would be provided or if there would be any adverse effect on neighboring properties.
Planner Barness reviewed the recently adopted criteria for considering approval of a variance by identifying practical difficulties that would prohibit reasonable use of the property. She reviewed the factors listed in her report relating to the following:
1) Circumstances unique to the property not caused by the landowner, such as topography, natural features, narrowness, insufficient area or shape of the property etc.; The Planner displayed an aerial view of the lot with an overlay of the current setback requirements and noted that if the setbacks were imposed, the lot becomes unbuildable. She noted that the new regulations adopted after the lot was originally platted rendered it a legally non-conforming lot and, as such, any future expansion of the home or garage structure requires a variance.
2) Is the request a reasonable use of the property but cannot be done under the rules of the Ordinance. The Planner explained that a garage is a permitted accessory use in both the R-1 and Shoreland Overlay District and the proposed size of the garage meets ordinance requirements. She noted that the request is to construct something that has traditionally been considered a reasonable use, a three-stall garage, but they need to build within the requirement setbacks area to do so.
3) Will the variance alter the essential character of the locality, for example, will it be out of scale, out of place or inconsistent with the surrounding area. The Planner noted that the proposed design of the expansion conforms to the existing structure and fits in with the character of the area in that it will be comparable in quality to garages on other properties. She noted that the applicants see no alternative location for a garage expansion without some variance. She further explained that the existing home and garage are entirely within the shoreline setback area and therefore no expansion can occur if a shoreline setback variance is not approved. She advised that if the garage expansion stops before intruding into the side yard setback, less than 11 ft. of additional space is available which is not large enough for a single garage stall.
The Planner reviewed the options for approval or denial of the request as outlined on pages 8, 9 and 10 of her report dated July 9, 2014. She displayed a diagram showing the approximate proposed setbacks for the structure from the lake and surrounding properties; the setback from the lake on the north would be 161 ft.; from the south and east adjacent properties would be 136 ft. and from the west to adjacent properties would be 252 ft. She noted that the distances from other homes on the lake appear to be comparable and that the proposal would be similar to other properties in the area. She offered to respond to questions.
Chair McCue opened the public hearing for comments from the audience.
Christine Hartman, 343 Salem Church Road, questioned if the 136 ft. setback shown on the diagram displayed by the planner was common in the area.
The Planner responded that it was not extremely common and was the shortest distance found in the immediately surrounding area.
Chair McCue asked the applicants if they had considered a smaller extension on the garage.
Joe Schaefer, 345 Salem Church Road, explained that other options were reviewed but did not work since the existing garage only has a depth of 20 ft. and it is not possible to get around a vehicle when two are parked in the garage. He commented that the expansion was also for storage purposes since the existing home is small and has no storage area. He noted that the existing garage has no storage either.
Chair McCue suggested a smaller expansion may be more appropriate.
Mr. Schaefer pointed out that he has to pull out of the garage so that another person can get into the car when two vehicles are parked in the garage.
Architect Keith Heaver explained that even a smaller addition would encroach into the setback and that he purposely angled the addition to keep the large pine tree on the property and to make less of a full encroachment into the setback.
Commissioner Beckett asked if the applicant is planning to remove the interior wall between the existing garage and the new addition. Mr. Heaver explained there would be an 8 ft. wide opening in the existing garage wall to access the addition.
Mr. Reisberg, 343 Salem Church, commented that he likes his new neighbors and noted that in this area setbacks appear to be a problem. He stated that the setbacks were established for a good reason and that he had to conform to the regulations, although he did not favor doing so, but that he preferred consistency. He questioned what would happen if he wanted to put something within the setback and pointed out that a hardship must be identified.
Chair McCue commented that is why she asked the applicant if a smaller addition would work.
Chair McCue asked if there were any further comments from the audience and, hearing no response, she closed the public hearing at 7:40 p.m.
Commissioner Hendrickson asked that the Planner display the portion of the land that would be buildable if all setbacks were imposed on the property and noted that it is merely the size of a path. He noted that the change in regulations created a hardship for the property, not the owner, and he pointed out that a previous owner wanted to tear down and build a new home and the City would have had to grant a variance so as to allow reasonable use of the property. He commented that he does not favor granting variances but in his opinion this is a unique situation that warrants approval. He also pointed out that the findings and evaluation criteria outlined in the Planner’s report make a strong argument for allowing the request.
Commissioner Schlehuber agreed that the property is unique and recalled that other requests had been pursued for the parcel. He noted that he struggled with the side yard setback adjacent to the neighboring property and agreed with Mr. Reisberg that rules for the side yard setback were established to minimize impact on neighboring properties. He suggested that an addition coming straight out from the garage may work and that in his opinion the pine tree could be removed. He indicated that he does not favor this proposal but would be willing to look at alternative designs for an additional garage stall.
He asked the Planner how far out the addition could be put before it encroaches on the setback.
The Planner pointed out that an addition of approximately 11 ft. or more would encroach into the setback.
Chair McCue explained that not all the information was submitted in time for the Engineer’s review and it may be possible to table this item until next month to allow the applicant time to consider other options.
The Planner pointed out that the Engineer had requested delaying action on the item until the next meeting, however, since it was noticed as a public hearing, she asked that the discussion also be held this evening to gather input from interested parties.
Commissioner Beckett agreed that she would prefer the addition be less and preferred to see some effort to prepare a plan that would work for both the applicant and the neighbor.
Chair McCue asked if there were any further comments and there was no response. Clerk Iago pointed out that the Commission should continue the public hearing so that comments could be received if an alternate plan is presented.
Commissioner Schlehuber moved to table the request and continue the Public Hearing to the regular Planning Commission meeting held August 20, 2014 and until the City Engineer’s report is received, seconded by Commissioner Beckett and carried. (4-0)
5. PUBLIC HEARING; Major Site and Building Plan Review and Conditional Use Permits, 2566 Delaware Avenue, Crystal & Michael Boyle: Chair McCue opened the public hearing for the property at 2566 Delaware Avenue and asked the Planner to review the application.
Planner Barness stated the applicants are requesting approval of a Major Site and Building Plan Review and Conditional Use Permits to allow construction of a new home and accessory structure on the property located at 2566 Delaware Avenue. She explained that the property is located between Hornbeam Lake and Wood Duck Pond and falls within both the R-1 Single Family Residential and Shoreland Overlay Districts. The applicants propose to demolish the existing home on the property to construct a new home and attached garage in approximately the same location.
The Planner explained that the unique lot is legally non-conforming and contains steep topography. She stated that the gross size of the parcel is 6-acres and the Zoning Ordinance requires a minimum net lot area of 2.5 acres, however; when calculating the net lot area excluding wetlands and steep topography, the total buildable area of the lot is 1.6-acres.
Planner Barness stated the applicants propose to demolish the existing home and construct a new home on a legally non-conforming lot and also are requesting Conditional Use Permits to construct a pool in the front yard of the home and a pool terrace area. She noted that there is an existing detached porch and the pool would be classified as a second accessory structure and the pool being placed in the front yard of the home, between the home and the lake, also requires a conditional use permit so that conditions may be attached to insure no negative impact to the lake.
The Planner explained that the applicants propose to change the shape of the driveway and add a pool, patio, deck and water feature on the site. She noted that in an effort to reduce impacts on the wetlands and lake, the applicants plan to construct the new home utilizing approximately the same location as the existing home.
Planner Barness stated that all of the R-1 Single Family building standards are met with the exception of the acreage requirement. The proposed new home meets all setbacks, building coverage, height and impervious surface requirements. The structure is 2-1/2 stories or less, with the lower level walkout not considered a story (as less than 50% of the basement is above grade). The building materials for the home include a metal roof, redwood siding recycled from the existing home, and natural stone veneer.
John Sonneck of Charles Cudd Company, explained that the applicants plan to convert the building materials to cedar and that the recycled redwood would be given to another party to use for their home.
The Planner advised that revised plan submittals proposed an attached garage of less than 1,250 sq. ft. in area, as required. She stated that an attached deck is proposed on the main level of the home facing west, with a covered patio directly below at the lower level. The applicants are proposing a pool terrace area, including an in-ground pool, a hot tub, a patio and ground level water feature. No pool security fencing is proposed and the City allows pools to be constructed with a protective safety feature such as a retractable cover as an alternative to a fence. The retractable cover will be required as a condition of approval and the applicants have agreed to this condition. She explained that the applicant had not provided a proposal for the treatment of pool water on the site, however the pumping of pool water shall be directed away from the lake and associated drainage/cleaning equipment shall be stored out of sight after each use. She noted the City Engineer may provide additional comments on the treatment of pool water to protect nearby waterways.
John Sonneck pointed out that in order to retain larger trees on the site the proposed home was lowered into the ground to nestle the pool into the trees to provide additional screening from neighboring properties. He advised that the watering system for the property would be directed to underground cistern tanks to store rainwater and direct it down the hill. He noted that the cistern tanks would collect more and manage water better and that there is enough land so that the runoff permeates into the ground before accessing the lake. He noted that the pool will utilize a newer filter system with saline instead of chlorine and would only be flushed in the fall. He pointed out that the water would be directed to the cistern and that the garage floor drain and water softener will also be directed to the cistern. He commented that the retractable cover appears to be mandatory to keep debris out of the pool as well as for safety purposes.
The Planner stated that a conditional use permit for the pool terrace area requires that there be no negative impact on adjacent properties. She explained that the structure would be 300 ft. from the nearest neighbor and that there is substantial vegetation on site to screen the structure. She explained that the new driveway proposed contains some small renovations but still meets setbacks. She noted that the applicants had submitted several examples of lighting proposed for the new home and that all the lighting examples have a “dark sky” option and are hooded. She stated that City Code does not allow lighting of recreational facilities, such as the pool, with the exception of safety lighting.
John Sonncek advised that the pool would be down lit and has lighting inside the pool itself.
The Planner advised that when the final lighting plan is submitted, staff measures to insure that the one-foot candle lighting requirement is not exceeded.
Planner Barness advised that the City Engineer received additional grading and drainage plans last week and was unable to complete his review of these new plans before the meeting, therefore, he requested this matter should be tabled to the August meeting in order for the Commission to review the Engineering report. She further explained that the City Code does not allow alteration of slopes more than 18% and the plan includes some work near slopes in excess of 12% grade; the applicants shall be required to comply with grading recommends provided by the City engineer for minimizing negative impacts to site slopes and vegetation. She explained that silt/tree protection fencing will be provided around the entire construction area and especially near the pond and lake sides.
John Sonneck explained that a double layer silt fence would be installed to control erosion on both sides near the waterways at approximately 10 ft. apart in case a large rain event occurs; he stated he would add the double layer fencing to the plan.
The Planner advised that no significant trees are being removed, only 4 trees are proposed to be removed, and that the applicants have made an effort to save the significant trees for screening and buffers from adjacent properties. She stated that the landscaping plan was reviewed by the City Forester and meets requirements.
Planner Barness advised that the applicants propose to utilize the secondary septic location and will work with the Septic Inspector to insure all requirements are met.
John Sonneck advised that the original septic system and well would be abandoned and a new well and septic system installed.
The Planner noted that the property is located within the Aircraft Noise Abatement Zone and that the applicants would work with the Building Inspector to insure that all requirements for building materials are met.
John Sonneck explained that the new home would have triple paned windows and spray foam insulation to insure all requirements for noise abatement are met.
Planner Barness reviewed the Site and Building Plan evaluation criteria listed in her report dated July 9, 2014 relating to whether or not the proposal is compatible with the existing structure in the surrounding community, preserves the character and nature of the natural landscape and woodland characteristics, is not constructed of unsightly or unsuitable materials, does not adversely affect any natural resources, does not negatively impact adjacent properties and complies with drainage requirements in the Zoning Ordinance.
The Planner noted that the proposal meets all criteria and is an attractive design that is allowed with conditional use permits for the second accessory structure, building on a legally non-conforming substandard sized lot and locating the pool terrace between the principal structure on the lot and the setback from the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM). She advised that the criteria for each of the Conditional Use Permit requests, as listed in her report dated July 9, 2014, have been met and that no concerns were submitted from neighbors within the 1,000 sq. ft. notification area. She commented that she did receive general questions relating to screening and impacts on adjacent properties. She indicated that the proposal should not negatively impact the surrounding properties or any view sheds and meets all criteria. She further noted that the substandard lot was legally established prior to the changes in the City Ordinance and provides substantial setback from surrounding properties.
Staff recommends approval, pending review of the City Engineer’s report on the underground storm water system and grading/drainage.
John Sonneck pointed out that the applicants have a one-year lease on rental property while the project is under construction and questioned if there was any possibility of receiving Commission approval this evening if the applicants agree to meet all the Engineer’s requirements in order to speed up the process.
The Planner explained that in the past this option had been used however it created some issues for staff; she noted that the Engineer specifically requested the matter be tabled until the next meeting in order for him to complete his report.
Mayor Park asked if the Engineer had received all the necessary plans to complete his review.
Mr. Sonneck responded yes and stated that the plans were submitted to the City Engineer late last week and include everything he wished to review and the plans for management of the storm water. He offered to meet with the City Engineer to insure that all the requests are met and up to date prior to the Council meeting.
There was discussion relating to the time delay by the applicants to submit the information requested by the City Engineer.
The Planner explained that once the City Engineer has completed his report, staff still needs time to review it in preparation for the Council meeting.
Chair McCue stated that in her opinion it would be preferable to table this matter in fairness to the other application that was also tabled earlier this evening. The Planner agreed.
Chair McCue opened the hearing for public comment and asked if there was anyone from the audience who wished to speak.
Casey Connors and Dave Johnson, 3560 Delaware, were present and stated their agreement to the proposal as presented.
The Chair asked if there were any further comments and hearing none closed the public hearing.
Commissioner Hendrickson questioned if the redesign of the attached garage that was presented this evening would be an issue that should be addressed prior to the next meeting.
John Sonneck explained that the garage actual space is under 1250 sq. ft. and the area in question was converted to a play area.
The Planner noted there was a small room above the garage that was added. Mr. Sonneck agreed and pointed out that the area would be nestled into the roofline so only the window would be visible.
Chair McCue asked if this area has a separate entrance and Mr. Sonneck responded yes and explained it would be accessed through the garage and mudroom.
Mayor Park pointed out that if this area is a self-contained unit with a kitchen and bedroom there may be an issue with the City Ordinance.
Planner Barness agreed and advised there are regulations governing separate living quarters and rentals for single-family homes.
Michael Boyle explained it was a mother-in-law unit and would never be used for rental purposes.
Chair McCue explained that a separate access for the unit would not be permitted and it would be appropriate to make the unit part of the home.
Commissioner Schlehuber commented that in his opinion it would be a beautiful home and a great addition to the City.
Chair McCue asked if there were any further comments and there was no response.
Commissioner Hendrickson moved to table the request and continue the Public Hearing to the regular Planning Commission meeting held August 20, 2014 and until the City Engineer’s report is received, seconded by Commissioner Beckett and carried. (4-0)
6. ADJOURN: Chair McCue asked if there was any further business or discussion and there was no response.
Commissioner Beckett moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:45 p.m., seconded by Commissioner Hendrickson and carried. (4-0)
Catherine Iago, City Clerk