SUNFISH LAKE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – JANUARY 21, 2015
7:00 P.M. - ST. ANNE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Chair: Andrea McCue
Commissioners: Tom Hendrickson. Ginny Beckett, Shari Hansen and Dan O’Leary.
City Planner: Michelle Barness
City Clerk: Cathy Iago
1. CALL TO ORDER: Chair McCue called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. She welcomed Dan O’Leary as the newly appointed Commissioner and asked that the Commission and staff introduce themselves to the audience members.
2. ADOPT AGENDA: Chair McCue asked if there were any additions to the agenda.
Clerk Iago advised that the resolution adopting the dates for the 2015 Planning Commission meetings that is annually adopted by the Commission should be added to the agenda as Item 5.
Chair McCue asked if there were any further additions and there was no response.
Commissioner Hendrickson moved to adopt the agenda as amended, seconded by Commissioner Hansen and carried. (5-0)
3. APPROVE MINUTES DECEMBER 17, 2014: Chair McCue asked if there were any additions or corrections to December 17, 2014 Planning Commission minutes and there was no response.
Commissioner Hendrickson moved to approve the December 17, 2014 Planning Commission minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Beckett and carried. (5-0)
4. Major Site and Building Plan Review, 116 Salem Church Road, Gergen/Greenwood Design: Chair McCue asked the Planner to review the application for the property at 116 Salem Church Road.
Planner Barness stated the applicants Mark Gergen and Greenwood Design Build, LLC are requesting approval of Major Site and Building Plans to construct a new home, attached garage, driveway, in-ground pool and septic and well system on the property located at 116 Salem Church Road. She advised that the in-ground pool is the only proposed detached accessory structure.
The Planner explained the property is currently undeveloped and falls within the R-1 Single Family residential and Shoreland Overlay Districts. She noted that the extent of the Shoreland District on the property is limited to a silver of land on the south end of the parcel and that the lot is located across Highway I-494 from Horseshoe Lake. She stated that in discussion with the City Attorney it was determined that the application should only be reviewed in association with the R-1 Single Family Residential criteria and not the Shoreland Overlay District criteria since it is not adjacent to the lake. She explained that development on the parcel will occur entirely on the north end of the parcel.
Planner Barness referred the Commission to the R-1 Single Family District Standards as listed on page 2 of the Planner’s report dated January 14, 2015, and stated that the application meets all standards for compliance as they relate to net lot area, lot width, setbacks, accessory setbacks, maximum building coverage and building height. She explained that the net lot area is 2.51 acres and that the proposed 2 percent building coverage proposed is well below the 10 percent building coverage allowed. She stated the proposed principal structure would be approximately 2,235 sq. ft., and the gross floor area of the main and upper levels of the home, including the attached garage is approximately 3,700 sq. ft. She noted the floor areas for the basement spaces are excluded from the floor area calculations. She also noted that the structure does not exceed the 30 ft. height above existing grade as measured from the average existing ground level; the proposed home is two stories with a finished basement and measures at 29.5 ft. in height.
Brent Baskfield, 90 Salem Church Road, questioned how the square footage was measured.
The Planner advised that the main floor of the structure would be approximately 1,527 sq. ft. and that the attached garage measures at 800 sq. ft.; she noted that a garage of up to 1,000 sq. ft. is permitted.
Mr. Baskfield asked if a person could build a home measuring only 1,000 sq. ft. on the lot.
Planner Barness explained that a 1,000 sq. ft. home could be constructed, however, a garage would be required so that the home would exceed 1,000 sq. ft.
The Planner stated that the proposed building materials on the exterior of the home are a combination of board and batten siding and stone veneer, which are allowed finishes. She explained that architectural asphalt singles would be used on the roof and the home would sit on a concrete foundation. She noted the City Building Inspector has reviewed the plan set and had no comments regarding the application at this time; the plans were also reviewed against the Sunfish Lake Design Guidelines and successfully meet the standards. She explained that a more thorough Building Code review will be conducted with the building permit application.
Planner Barness advised that the in-ground pool is the only accessory proposed to be located to the south of the home. She explained that the applicants are not planning to construct the pool at this time, but have submitted plans that meet standards. She stated that the pool terrace does not exceed 1,500 sq. ft. and meet accessory setback requirements. She also explained that accessory structures are required to be screened from neighboring properties and public right-of-way and should be positioned to minimize impact on abutting properties. She advised that the pool is located to the south of the home and the wooded areas to the rear of the pool would remain generally undisturbed. She stated that the applicants have proposed additional black hills spruce screening trees along the east and west property lines to help screen the principal structure and the pool from adjacent properties and the road. She noted that staff recommends requiring installation of a safety cover and only low key safety lighting when the pool is installed.
The Planner explained that the south and north portions of the site have existing screening that will be maintained and that the construction zones are near the east and west portions of the site. She advised that the storm water and grading plans show installation of erosion control methods. She noted the property has several areas of steep slopes and the applicants have proposed an infiltration basin downhill from the home site to treat stormwater runoff.
Mr. Baskfield asked if the Forester had reviewed the tree removal on the site and questioned if this is a “spec” home being constructed.
The Planner stated that the Forester had reviewed the plans and the site. She explained that 24 trees within the construction zone would be removed and 21 trees replanted. She stated that the applicant proposes to install spruce trees along the east and west parameters of the site. She stated that she was informed by the applicant that the home being constructed has a buyer.
Chair McCue asked what size trees would be installed.
Mark Gergen, applicant stated that 8-ft. balled-burlap spruce trees are proposed for installation in the areas where they would provide the most screening to adjacent properties.
Dick Nobel, 120 Salem Church Road, asked if the trees outside the construction zone would remain.
Planner Barness responded yes and showed those present the areas where existing trees would remain.
Joey Diederichs, engineer for the project, explained that only trees within the construction zone would be removed and that the other areas would remain untouched.
The Planner stated that the driveway access to the home is located on the east portion of the site from Horseshoe Lane and that there is an easement in place for access. She explained that staff included a condition to review insure that the easement is identified on the site survey and that the applicants adhere to established requirements for access to the site and maintenance of the shared private road. She further noted that a condition to video record the shared driveway pavement prior to construction so that any damages can be verified. She noted that she spoke with the Mendota Heights Fire Chief and was advised that the reason for the lopped driveway and turning radius, as well as the surface materials, relate to providing sufficient turning radius and materials for emergency vehicle access.
There was discussion relating to the ownership of the private driveway access and those present were unsure who has ownership of the easement.
Chair McCue pointed out that documentation shows the easement is already in place for this site and staff has documented that fact.
Planner Barness stated that the applicants provide an exterior lighting plan indicating the location of eight (8) recessed canister lists and one wall mounted light fixture on the exterior of the home. She referred the Commission to the diagram of the proposed coach, hooded light and stated that it meets the design criteria. She noted that upon installation all lights which cast any light on adjacent residential properties may not exceed one foot candle and there is a condition included to measure the lighting from the edge of the property line after installation.
The Planner stated that the City Engineer reviewed the grading, drainage and stormwater plans and had conditions listed in his initial report relating to the proposed infiltration basin. She explained that the applicants worked with the City Engineer to reconfigure the infiltration basin and to insure protection of steep slopes and restoration conditions. She distributed a memorandum from the City Engineer dated January 21, 2015 with his recommendation for approval of the revised plans subject to the conditions listed in the memorandum. She noted that the engineer’s conditions should be incorporated into a recommendation for approval as they relate to preservation of 5:1 slopes, silt fencing, submission of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System NPDES Construction permit to the City, adhering to axel load limits when delivering materials to the site, video recording the shared driveway prior to construction and repairing any damage to the roadway and City right-of-way that occurs during construction. She noted that staff and the City Engineer would conduct pre and post construction site visits to insure that all conditions have been met.
Planner Barness stated the applicant proposes to install retaining walls on the site and the City Engineer recommended a set of plans be submitted for his review of the wall to insure they do not exceed 4 ft. in height. She explained that no fencing is proposed on the site.
The Planner stated that approximately 24 trees, 13 of which are significant trees, would be removed from the site during construction. The trees slated for removal are a combination of cedar, black cherry Siberian elm, green ash and cottonwood. She explained that 21 native trees, including black hills spruce for screening purposes and a combination of burr oaks, pin oaks, swamp white oaks and hackberries would be planted after construction. She advised that the applicant met with the City Forester on site to discuss tree preservation, removal and protection measures. She stated that a foundation planting area had been identified around the home and the remainder of the disturbed areas on the site to be restored to either turf grass/sod mixture or a no mow/low grow see mix. Staff recommends no mow seed mix or perennials be placed on the edges of the site restoration and that a native seed mixture or the no mow see mix be applied to steep slopes around the perimeter of the home and pool to better protect slopes and maintain soils. The prposed infiltration basin would be seeded with a water tolerant native wetland mix and the soils in the basin are required to be protected during construction.
Chair McCue asked if a rain garden would be installed on the site. Planner Barness responded yes and explained that would be part of the infiltration basin.
The Planner stated the applicants met with the City Septic Inspector on site to dig test holes and certify the soil for percolation for installation of a septic system; the soil and septic report was provide to City staff for review with the location of the proposed primary and secondary septic area on the site. The applicant must continue to work with the City Septic Inspector to attain the necessary permit for installing the new system on site.
Mr. Baskfiled asked who was responsible to insure all plantings are installed.
The Planner stated that she and the City Engineer conduct pre and post site visits to insure that all erosion control methods are in place and the City Forester conducts a landscape installation inspection after construction and plant installation occurs. She pointed out that the City has the authority to require escrow funds to insure that all conditions are met.
Mr. Baskfield commented that a “spec” home was constructed on Roanoke Road and the plantings were so small they will take forever to grow. He pointed out that junipers and conifers are not expensive to plant and that in his opinion it does not appear that anyone from the City “policed’ the area to review the plantings.
The Planner explained that a site visit to the property he mentioned was conducted and that the plants installed were those submitted on the approved landscaping plan for the site and met the City’s ordinance standards. She commented that the City’s current landscaping requirements are not strict and therefore it is difficult to require large plantings for installation.
Mr. Baskfield also noted that no grass was growing on the Roanoke property. Planner Barness advised that the City staff would conduct a site visit if a complaint is received.
Mr. Baskfield asked if the applicants were advised of any restrictive covenants for this area.
The Planner stated that the City was only aware of the access easement and that any restrictive covenants would be provided to the applicant by the property owner, not the City.
Mr. Baskfield noted that the brick façade placed on the Roanoke home was made of plastic and questioned if staff was aware of this fact.
The Planner stated she was not aware of this fact and noted that the approved plan indicated a stone veneer would be placed on the Roanoke home, which would meet the City’s design standards. She offered to check on the brick at this location.
Commissioner Hendrickson pointed out that the contractor may have installed the veneer and the homeowner may not have been aware of this fact.
Planner Barness distributed a small diagram which shows the addition of a small screened porch on the rear of the proposed home that the applicants wished to add to the plan. She stated the porch meets setback requirements and would be located between the home and the pool area. She noted that the porch would be placed on stilts so that it would not affect the grading on site.
The Planner distributed a draft Findings of Fact and the memorandum from the City Engineer, both dated January 21, 2015. She stated that staff recommends approval of the application and she reviewed the evaluation criteria as listed in her report dated January 14, 2015 as follows:
- The proposed single family home in the R-1 District is similar is size and quality to surrounding hoes and meets performance standards;
- The exterior materials meet requirements;
- There is no negative impact to natural areas or water and the applicants have made an effort to preserve the natural areas on the site and protect them with fencing during construction;
- The application meets the City Engineer’s requirements for grading and erosion control.
Planner Barness stated that staff recommends approval of the request based on the Findings of Fact and with conditions as listed relating to requiring a safety cover for the pool and limiting pool lighting to safety lights only and providing easement documentation. She further advised that the City Engineer’s additional conditions as listed in his memorandum dated January 21, 2015 relating to protection of steep slopes, restoration of steep slopes and pre and post site visits by staff be included as well as the conditions relating to obtaining a permit for septic system and well installations.
Mr. Baskfield asked why the applicants are not installing the pool and how long the approval for the pool would run if it is not installed at this time.
Mark Gergen advised that the property owners are still deciding if they wish to install the pool at this time, but requested that it be included on the plans so that they do not have to submit a separate application in the future.
The Planner explained that approval of request to construct the home and the pool would remain in place for one year and then the applicants would have to re-apply for the construction.
Chair McCue asked if there were any further questions and there was no response.
Chair McCue stated that she would prefer to see spruce or evergreen trees at least 5 ft. in height planted for screening.
Commissioner Beckett stated she would recommend larger trees be installed.
Commissioner Hansen pointed out that the lot does have other tree coverage for screening.
Commissioner O’Leary commented that his neighbor planted 87 smaller trees on his lot and ended up with 2 because the deer ate them. He advised that he planted trees on his property with protective fencing around them and they survived. He stated that in his opinion it is important to have strict screening regulations and staff follow-thru for all landscaping installation.
Chair McCue pointed out that this has been a problem for the Commission and the City since the requirements are not strict; she noted that the Commission thought the escrow requirement would help to insure that the plantings were done properly.
Commissioner O’Leary agreed that staff can only review if the installation was done according to the approved plan and would have difficulty with enforcement if the plants do no grow.
The Planner explained that the minimum requirement for shrub installation is 18-inches and that an ordinance amendment would be necessary to increase the size.
Chair McCue asked if the Commissioners wished to add a minimum size requirements for the trees to be planted on this site.
Commissioner Beckett pointed out that the last applicant was required to plant trees 8 ft. in height.
Commissioner O’Leary commented that the 8 ft. height is not required by ordinance, but the City could encourage the applicant to plant larger trees.
Commissioner Hendrickson stated he would support the recommendation to plant 8 ft. high trees. He asked if the pool area would be excavated at this time.
Mark Gergen stated the pool would not be excavated at this time, only the home.
Chair McCue explained that she had received two complaints from residents who were upset with the size of the trucks that have been delivering materials for construction of a new home off Salem Church Road and she wished to have this documented in the minutes.
There was discussion relating to which properties share access on Horseshoe Lane.
Commissioner Hendrickson asked if the both the septic and expansion fields would be protected with fencing or if a condition to do so should be added. The Planner responded that both areas are included as part of the requirement for erosion control protection.
Commissioner Beckett asked if the siding proposed would be a veneer. The Planner explained that the stone veneer was proposed and that it is actual stone that has been approved on many new homes.
The Planner commented that the minimum height for evergreen plantings in the City ordinance is 4 ft. however, in the past the Commission has recommended larger trees be installed so there is justification for increasing the size.
Chair McCue asked if there any further comments and there was no response.
Commissioner Hendrickson moved to recommend approval of the Major Site and Building Plan Review based on the Findings of Fact and subject to conditions as listed in the City Engineer’s memorandum both dated January 21, 2015 and with an additional condition to require that the Black Hills Spruce trees as shown on the landscaping plan be 8 feet in height for screening purposes, seconded by Commissioner O’Leary and carried. (5-0)
5. Consider Resolution Setting the Dates of the Regular Planning Commission Meetings for the Year 2015: Planner Barness explained that the Planning Commission annually adopts a resolution setting the dates of their regular meetings for the year. She asked that the commissioners review the list and determine if any changes are necessary. She advised that if no changes are required, the Commission should take action to adopt the resolution as submitted.
Commissioner O’Leary asked why the dates are not approved prior to the first meeting.
Clerk Iago explained that the dates are normally approved prior to the beginning of the year, unless the Commission does not meet in December.
Commissioner Beckett moved to adopt Resolution No. 15-01PC titled, RESOLUTION SETTING THE DATES OF THE REGULAR PLANNING COMMISSION MEETINGS FOR THE YEAR 2015, seconded by Commissioner O’Leary and carried. (5-0)
MISCELLANEOUS: Chair McCue stated she would not be available for the March meeting. Commissioners Hansen and Hendrickson stated they may also have a conflict with the March meeting date.
Planner Barness explained that the February meeting would be cancelled, but there may be an application for the March meeting. She asked that the Commissioners notify her as soon as possible after the application is submitted to determine if a quorum would be present or if the date must be changed.
ADJOURN: Chair McCue asked if there was any further business and there was no response.
Commissioner Hendrickson moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:00 p.m., seconded by Commissioner O’Leary and carried. (5-0)
Catherine Iago, City Clerk