SUNFISH LAKE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – AUGUST 19, 2015

SUNFISH LAKE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – AUGUST 19, 2015

7:00 P.M. - ST. ANNE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH

Attendants:

Chair: Andrea McCue

Commissioners: Ginny Beckett, Shari Hansen, Tom Hendrickson, and Dan O’Leary

City Planner: Michelle Barness

City Clerk: Cathy Iago
Building Inspector: Mike Andrejka

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 Hansen moved to adopt the agenda as amended, seconded by Commissioner O’Leary and carried. (5-0)

3. APPROVE MINUTES MAY 20, 2015: Chair McCue asked if there were any additions or corrections to May 20, 2015 Planning Commission minutes and there was no response.

Commissioner O’Leary moved to approve the May 20, 2015 Planning Commission minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Hendrickson and carried. (5-0)

4. Major Site and Building Plan Review and Variance, 100 Salem Church Road, Rhett and Shayna McSweeney: Chair McCue asked the Planner to review the application for the property at 100 Salem Church Road.

Planner Barness explained that the applicants propose to construct a swimming pool and pool terrace on the property located at 100 Salem Church Road. She stated the property is located in the R-1 Single-Family District and that swimming pools are a permitted accessory use in this district. She advised the pool and deck terrace would be approximately 1,056 sq. ft. and explained that a Major Site and Building Plan Review are required when the site alterations exceed 1,000 sq. ft. She explained that a concrete pool deck, retaining walls and landscaping are also included and that the re-grading of the site requires removal of several trees.

Planner Barness directed the Commission to page 2 of her report dated August 12, 2015 and stated that the project meets all setback requirements for accessory structures in the R-1, Single Family District. She advised that the zoning ordinance prohibits lighting of private recreational facilities with the exception of lighting for safety purposes. She noted that the applicants have not proposed any safety lighting at this time. She further explained that a pool cover or fencing is required for safety purposes and the applicant has advised that a cover will be provided. She also advised that accessory uses must be screened from abutting properties and public ways and noted that the property has substantial existing tree coverage and therefore, no additional screening is required.


Planner Barness stated that the applicant submitting a grading drainage and erosion control plan that was reviewed by the City Engineer. She explained that silt fencing is proposed on the downslope sides of the project area and a rock construction entrance is shown on the plans to reduce sediment movement from the site. She stated the applicant submitted stormwater calculations illustrating existing and proposed water runoff conditions and proposes to add a raingarden west of the pool terrace to capture water runoff from the surface and treat the pool water.

The Planner stated that the City Engineer had some concerns with the project as outlined in his report dated August 7, 2015 and did not recommend approval of the project until the applicant provided a revised plan addressing his concerns. She distributed a new report from the City Engineer dated August 18, 2015 regarding the revised documents submitted by the applicant on August 11, 2015 and noted that the Engineer advised the majority of his concerns were addressed in the revised plan. She noted the remaining issues outlined in the Engineer’s report as follows:

1) Location of the existing septic and wells on site must be shown on the plan;

2) Submit an updated site plan that depicts areas of disturbed soils and a soil report containing
information on the suitability of the oils for infiltration;
3) Type of protection for the trees that are to be saved must be indicated on the plan;
4) Size and species of trees to be removed must be shown on the plan;

5) Any slopes steeper than or equal to 3 to1 horizontal to vertical will require erosion control

Blankets; and
6) Temporary stockpile locations need to be protected to prevent sediment loss and a plan for

erosion control and restoration following final grading needs to be submitted;
7) Applicant must document condition of shared driveway prior to construction in case any

damage occurs and the contractor must adhere to load limits when delivering material to the

site; and,
8) The City Engineer must complete the review of the plans for retaining wall on the site.

Planner Barness explained that the City Engineer has now recommended approval of the request, subject to the conditions as listed. She also noted that the City Engineer recommended a raingarden be installed on the property.

Damon Roth, Landscape Architect for the project, explained that a hard pipe would be installed for deck drainage and an infiltration system for natural drainage over land surface so that the pipe is not plugged by leaves or debris. He showed the area for the raingarden location.

The Planner advised that the applicant should provide a planting plan for the raingarden to insure it will function as it should. She noted that the Forester and Septic Inspector had no comments relating to the proposal.

Planner Barness reviewed the Site and Building Plan Evaluation Criteria as shown on page 4 of her report dated August 12, 2015 and stated that the proposed improvements are compatible with surrounding properties and that the building materials used would preserve the character and nature of the area. She explained that the proposed improvements will not adversely affect any natural resources in the community and would not negatively impact surrounding properties. She advised that the proposed pool accessory area is comparable in size and quality to similar projects on other properties and the existing tree screening appears to be sufficient to screen the area from surrounding properties and public ways.

The Planner stated that staff recommends approval of the request based on the Findings of Fact and subject to the conditions listed in the document she distributed to the commission dated August 29, 2015.

Chair McCue asked if there were any questions from the Commissioners.
Commissioner O’Leary referred to condition No. 5 listed in the document distributed by the Planner and asked if language should be included making approval conditioned upon an inspection by the City Septic Inspector.

Planner Barness explained that the proposal does not impact the existing septic system and that is why she did not include language or a separate condition relating to a septic inspection.

Damon Roth referred the Commission to the site plan and showed the location of the existing septic system and how it would not be impacted by the proposed improvements to the site.

Chair McCue asked if there were any questions or comments from the floor and there was no response.

Commissioner O’Leary moved to recommend approval of the Major Site and Building Plan Review for property located at 100 Salem Church Road based on the findings of fact and conditions as listed in the Planner’s document distributed this evening and dated August 19, 2015, seconded by Commissioner Hansen and carried. (
5-0)

5. Other/New Business: A. Building Materials Discussion, Building Inspector Mike Andrejka: Planner Barness distributed copies of the Building Inspector’s report with photographs showing various types of building materials used in home construction. The report identified the three (3) grades of materials used in construction; 1) Builder’s Grade; 2) Architect’s Grade; and, 3) Engineer’s Grade.

Chair McCue thanked the Inspector for scheduling the tutorial visit to Menards at the last meeting and commented that the members found the information very useful. She asked the Inspector what grade of building materials would not be acceptable in his opinion.

Inspector Andrejka commented that the materials he may deem acceptable may be different from what the City deems acceptable for construction. He pointed out that when he conducts a plan review, he does so in an effort to insure that the construction materials are compliant with current building codes. He noted that the City has more leeway to regulate the type of materials they wish to authorize as acceptable for construction within the City.

Chair McCue asked what grade was used on the newest home constructed in the City.

Inspector Andrejka responded that the most recent home under construction was done with the Architect’s Grade materials.

The Inspector referred to the photographs used in his report which show the various grades of materials and explained that Builder’s Grade materials ae more economical and have a 25-year life span, versus Architectural Grade with a 40-year life span or Engineering Grade which has a 100-year life expectancy. He pointed out that the Builder’s Grade materials are code compliant but would show deterioration within 10 years, while the Architect or Engineering Grade are more durable.

Planner Barness explained that Section 1219.03.B of the Zoning Code lists the eight (8) exterior building materials that may be comparable in grade and quality to the Architect or Engineer Grade. She stated that this section includes a provision No. 9 that states; “Other materials as determined by the City Council”. She noted that this provision allows Council to approve new materials or deny any materials deemed unacceptable. She pointed out that if there are requests for use of Builder’s Grade materials they would likely be associated with additions to older existing homes so that the materials match the original construction materials.

Clerk Iago commented that during the time she has worked for the City it appears that most applicants wishing to build in Sunfish Lake do not ask to deviate from the materials listed in the Zoning Code and Planner Barness agreed.

Commissioner O’Leary commented that it appears that provision No. 9 would require Council approval of any new materials that are requested by applicants.

Commissioner Hendrickson agreed and noted that the applicant would have to provide data on the product to prove that the materials would be comparable with the higher building material grades.

Commissioner O’Leary agreed that the Planner would review the application and determine whether or not Planning Commission and Council review was necessary and if samples and data on the materials would be submitted.

Chair McCue stated that in her opinion it would be wise for the Commission to conduct a review of new building materials every two years to determine if an amendment to the Zoning Code is necessary.

Commissioner Beckett stated that she found the visit to Menards and the Building Inspector’s report with photograph was extremely helpful and educational for the commissioners.

Commissioner O’Leary advised that he was under the impression that everything must be completed with new construction prior to issuing a Certificate of Occupancy.

Inspector Andrejka explained that the Certificate of Occupancy may be issued prior to completion of some of the exterior construction on the home, but that the interior items relating to safety for occupancy must be completed.

Commissioner O’Leary asked what type of enforcement options are open to the City to insure that the home construction is completed

Planner Barness stated that the City holds the escrow funds until the work is completed.

Commissioner O’Leary pointed out that $5,000 in escrow would not cover most of the work.

There was discussion relating to enforcement issues for completion of work on new home construction.

Planner Barness pointed out that staff does a post-construction site visit and lists items that must be completed prior to issuing a Certificate of Occupancy.

Clerk Iago pointed out that issuing the Certificate of Occupancy is tied to completion of interior issues, not tied to completion of exterior items.

Inspector Andrejka agreed that he issues the Certificate of Occupancy once all safety issues have been completed on the interior of the home. He noted that in some cases, when there are only minor items to be completed, the building permit may open even after the certificate is issued until a final inspection is done.

Chair McCue asked if there were any further questions or comments and there was no response.

Commissioners concurred to recommend that no amendments be made to the current Zoning Code at this time and that the Commission revisit and review new building materials every two years to determine if any changes to the code are necessary.

Inspector Andrejka suggested that Commissioners may want to accompany him during a site visit to new home construction so that they can see what his inspection involves.

The Commissioners agreed that they would be interested in going to a site visit and it would be helpful to see what the inspection involves.

Chair McCue thanked the Inspector for his report and review of the building materials.

B. Alternative Energy Systems Ordinance Review and Discussion: Planner Barness referred to her report dated August 12, 2015 relating to establishing an Alternative Energy System ordinance for the City. She explained that due to recent inquiries from residents, Council requested staff and the Commission to develop a Zoning Ordinance amendment to address and regulate alternative energy systems which may include, wind, solar, and geothermal (ground source heat pump) systems to supplement energy needs.

The Planner stated that she reviewed three (3) ordinances recently adopted in communities that reflect the latest technologies. She advised that her firm had recently assisted the cities of Elko/New Market and Spring Park to establish their ordinance, and that the League of Minnesota Cities suggested a review the City of Woodbury’s ordinance. She referred to the table that she prepared to compare the various standards applied to each energy system and the examples of the standards established by each city ordinance that she reviewed. She suggested that Commission review these standards to determine which should be included in the Sunfish Lake code.

Chair McCue stated that in her opinion the wind energy source would have the most visual impact.

Inspector Andrejka pointed out that the solar panels appear to be the source most used at this time. He indicated that panels may be placed on the roof or on the ground He explained that geothermal appears to have the least impact on neighboring properties.

Councilmember O’Leary pointed out that the Commission may need to review the information over a period of time prior to making a recommendation for the ordinance. He questioned if the City would need to review Federal laws prior to prohibiting any of the alternative energy systems. He commented that in his opinion solar panels should be installed flush on the roof and made from non-reflective materials. He indicated that he was not opposed to the geothermal energy sources, however, wind sources may raise issues with noise, height and setbacks.

Planner Barness explained that she would have to review Federal laws to determine if the City could prohibit any of the energy sources. She noted that the City has the option to limit the placement of energy sources as accessory structures and also to establish zoning districts where they may be permitted.

Commissioner Hendrickson stated if the Commission wishes to move forward they should review the sample regulations from other cities and determine which ones should be included in the ordinance.

The Commission concurred that an ordinance regulating alternative energy systems is needed and that permits should be issued for all systems; they noted that the geothermal systems requires inspections for installation. They also concurred that the alternative energy systems should be allowed as a permitted accessory use.

The following questions were raised by the Commission relating to wind systems:

- What amount of energy is generated from a 30 ft. versus a 40 ft. tall wind tower;

- What amount of energy is generated from roof turbines versus ground turbines;
- What height was necessary for a ground mounted turbine to get wind flow; and

- What is the difference in energy generated from the vertical versus horizontal mounted
turbine

The Planner and Commission reviewed the sample regulations for Wind Systems and determined the following regulations should be included as follows:

Zoning District Allowance: Small turbines should be allowed as an accessory use in all zoning districts.
Number: One per parcel
Structure Heights: Commissioners preferred the Spring Park height requirements and noted that ground mounted units may need additional height depending on the site location.
Setbacks: Commissioners preferred that the system be setback a minimum of its total height or the principal structure setback from the property line.
Easements: May not encroach on easements.
Noise: Commission preferred to wait until staff conducted research on the noise level for different types of turbines and design impacts.
Screening: It was noted that none of the cities require screening.
Aesthetics: Must be non-reflective, non-obtrusive color, only monopole structures, and advertising and illumination prohibited.
Feeder Lines: must be placed underground within parcel.
Safety: Must comply with minimum standards if various institutions – Staff to do further research on sample ordinance from City of Woodbury.
Certifications/Permits: Staff to do further research on sample ordinance from City of Woodbury.
Maintenance: Staff to do further research on sample ordinance from City of Woodbury.
Abandonment: Same regulation as listed in all three sample ordinances requiring removal of the system at owner’s expense if it is inoperable for one year.

The Commission discussed what setbacks should be used for the wind systems and if front yard, easements and lakeside of properties should be excluded for placement of the system. They also discussed the noise levels and if there are differences for the noise factors with different turbine designs. They noted that none of the cities required screening of the turbines, which could be due to the fact that screening may limit the wind flow. The Planner offered to research these items and provide more information to the Commission.

The Planner and Commission reviewed the sample regulations for Solar Systems and determined the following regulations should be included as follows:

Zoning District Allowance: Allowed as an accessory use in all zoning districts.

Exceptions: Passive or building–integrated systems.

Height: Comply with district height requirements. The Planner noted that the City has made exceptions for some roof mounted items that could exceed the 30 ft. height requirement by no more than 5-ft. and this could be included for solar panels if necessary for most efficient placement. The Commission requested that staff research the height necessary for ground mounted structures to be efficient and provide more information to the Commission.
Location: Commission concurred that the ground mounted panels could be placed in the side yard or rear yard if they met setback requirements, but not in front yards or on the lake side of property.
Setbacks: Commission concurred that the ground mounted panels comply with the zonig district principal building setbacks and that roof-mounted panels may not extend beyond the exterior perimeter of the building.

Easements: May not encroach on easements.

Screening: Screening to extent possible without reducing efficiency.
Maximum Area (ground mounted): Consistent with area requirements for accessory structures.
Aesthetics: Commissioners agreed that the City of Woodbury regulations should be included.
Feeder Lines: Must be placed underground within parcel.

Safety: Must comply with minimum standards if various institutions – Staff to do further research on sample ordinance from City of Woodbury.

Certifications/Permits: Must be certified by various bodies - Staff to do further research on sample ordinance from City of Woodbury.

Maintenance: Staff to do further research on sample ordinance from City of Woodbury.
Utility Connection: Staff to ask City of Woodbury about the agreement with local utility required prior to building permit.

Abandonment: Same regulation as listed in all three sample ordinances requiring removal of the system at owner’s expense if it is inoperable for one year.

The Planner and Commission reviewed the sample regulations for Geothermal Systems and determined the following regulations should be included as follows:

Zoning District Allowance: Allowed as an accessory use in all zoning districts.
System Requirements: Commission noted that all the sample cities ordinances allow only “closed loop” systems and prohibit systems located within public waterways. Staff offered to discuss this with the City of Woodbury to determine why public waterways are prohibited and if this system would have negative impact on lakeshore properties.
Setbacks: There was discussion regarding restricting setback of equipment on lakeshore property to 150 ft. from the OHWM and staff offered to further research this regulation. Also discussed was a 20 ft. setback buffer from adjacent properties.
Easements: ay not encroach on drainage utility and trail easements.
Noise: Staff will research MPCA standards of compliance for noise levels. Commission agreed that maintenance of the units to avoid unusual noise should be included.
Screening: Include subject to screening requirements for mechanical systems.
Safety: Must comply with State Building Code.
Abandonment: Include systems inoperable for one year are deemed abandoned and must be removed at owners expense and site restored to vegetation after removal completed.
Permits: Subject to building permit. Vertical systems subject to approval by Minnesota Department of Health.

Certification: Must be certified by Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

The Commission suggested that the requirements for “site restoration to vegetation” be included in all three alternative energy system regulations under “abandonment”.
Chair McCue asked if there were any further comments or questions and there was no response.

The Commission thanked Planner Barness and commended her for the excellent informational materials she compiled in her report.

Commission concurred to direct the Planner to prepare a draft ordinance based on their recommended items for inclusion relating to the three (3) alternative energy systems as discussed this evening for discussion at their September meeting.

ADJOURN: Chair McCue asked if there was any further business and there was no response.

Commissioner Beckett moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:10 p.m., seconded by Commissioner Hansen and carried. (5-0)

Respectfully submitted,

________________________

Catherine Iago, City Clerk