SUNFISH LAKE CITY COUNCIL MEETING – JUNE 7, 2016
7:00 P.M. - ST. ANNE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Mayor: Molly Park
Councilmembers: Mike Hovey, JoAnne Wahlstrom, Steven Bulach and Richard Williams
City Attorney: Tim Kuntz
City Planner: Ryan Grittman
Engineer: Don Sterna
City Treasurer: Ann Lanoue
City Forester: Jim Nayes
Police Chief: Manila Shaver
City Clerk: Cathy Iago
and Members of the General Public.
Building Inspector Mike Andrejka was absent.
1. CALL TO ORDER: Mayor Park opened the meeting at 7:00 p.m.
2. APPROVE AGENDA: Mayor Park asked if there were any additions or corrections to the agenda.
Councilmember Williams advised that he drafted a letter to MnDOT documenting the City’s concerns regarding the improvement of Highway 110 and asked that this be added to the agenda under Item 8.b. Other for discussion.
Councilmember Hovey asked that he also be added to the agenda under Item 8.b. Other to provide an update on the annual deer hunt.
Mayor Park asked if there were any other additions to the agenda and there was no response.
Councilmember Williams moved to adopt the agenda as amended, seconded by Councilmember Wahlstrom and carried. (5-0)
3. CONSENT AGENDA: Mayor Park asked if there were any questions or comments relating to any items on the Consent Agenda
and there was no response.
Councilmember Williams moved approval of the Consent Agenda as presented, seconded by Councilmember Wahlstrom and carried. (5-0)
a. Regular Council Meeting Minutes of May 3, 2016
b. List of Bills
c. Monthly Financials
4. COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC: The Mayor asked if there were any comments from the public and there was no response.
5. PUBLIC HEARING/PRESENTATIONS: None.
6. PLANNING COMMISSION/PLANNER’S REPORT: a. Consider Major Site & Building Plan Review and Variances, 5865 So. Robert Trail, Brian and Joyce Birch: Planner Grittman explained that the applicants wish to demolish an existing home and build a new home at approximately the same location on the site. He stated that a Major Site and Building Plan review is required for building alterations exceeding 1, 000 sq. ft. in area. He further advised that the applicants are requesting a variance from the lakeshore and side yard setbacks.
The Planner stated that the Planning Commission tabled action on this matter to allow the applicant time to revise the landscape plan as it relates to tree replacement, to revise the driveway access to accommodate a turnaround for a fire truck and to bring sample materials of the exterior siding and stone for Commission review. He noted that the Fire Chief reviewed the area designated for the fire truck turnaround and determined that although the area requires several maneuvers for the turnaround, it would work. Staff recommended a conditions be included that requires the turnaround pad area to be clear of all plantings, snow storage or storage of any materials at all times.
Planner Grittman stated that the City Forester had recommended nine (9) trees be installed as replacement trees for those being removed during construction of the new home. He explained that the Planning Commission reviewed the revised landscaping plan and changed the number of trees to be installed for replacement to seven (7) trees. He advised that the change was due to the fact that two of the trees would be placed too close to the turnaround pad for the fire truck access and that there was no other location on the site that would accommodate moving the trees due to the topography.
The Planner stated that the Planning Commission and staff recommend approval of the requests based on the findings of fact to support the Variance request and subject to the conditions recommended by the City Engineer, Fire Chief and staff including the requirement that the fire access turnaround be kept clear at all times.
Councilmember Williams asked if there would be a place for the water reservoir for the tanker truck.
Planner Grittman explained that the access area would only accommodate a regular fire truck and not the tanker.
Councilmember Wahlstrom suggested that the Fire Chief review the area for the tanker truck access.
Engineer Sterna pointed out that the water reservoir would most likely be staged on Robert Street and that the Fire Chief would have consider that when reviewing the site for access.
Councilmember Williams commented that the applicant appears to be building on the same footprint for the existing home and therefore the original structure must have been non-conforming.
Planner Grittman responded that the new home would be basically in the same location as the non-conforming existing structure.
Councilmember Bulach asked if a new septic system and well are proposed.
The Planner stated that t new septic system would be installed but the well will remain in the same location.
Mayor Park asked if the applicants brought samples of the building materials.
Sean Doyle, contractor for the applicant, showed samples of the Hardy Board siding proposed for the new home.
Mayor Park pointed out that Hardy Board siding is included as a building product in the City Code. She advised that Council and the Planning Commission had visited a local building store to review all the new materials on the market that are being used for construction.
Mr. Birch was present to respond to questions.
Mayor Park asked if the neighbors had provided any feedback or concerns.
Planner Grittman stated that there were neighbors in attendance at the public hearing and one neighbor had expressed support for the project but no other neighbors provided input
Councilmember Wahlstrom asked if it would hinder approval of the project is a neighbor did not support it.
The Planner responded that neighbor opposition does not necessarily hinder approval of the request and he noted that no neighbors were present at the public hearing to voice their objection to the request. He pointed out that only one of the Planning Commissioner was opposed to the variance portion of the request and the reasons were outlined in the Planning minutes from the May 18, 2016 meeting.
Mayor Park commented that the new home should be an asset to the neighborhood compared to the existing home that has not been occupied for a number of years.
Mr. Birch displayed a model of the new home that he constructed.
Forester Nayes explained that he lives across the lake from the proposed site and that he has heard only positive comments from the neighborhood.
Mayor Park asked if there were any further comments or questions and there was no response.
Councilmember Hovey moved to adopt Resolution No. 16-13 titled RESOLUTION APPROVING A MAJOR SITE AND BUILDING PLAN REVIEW AND A SHORELAND SETBACK AND SIDE YARD SETBACK VARIANCE FOR PROPERTY LOCATED AT 5865 SOUTH ROBERT TRAIL, BRIAN AND JOYCE BIRCH, based on the findings of fact as listed in the Planner’s report dated May 11, 2016 and subject to the conditions as listed, seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (5-0)
Mayor Park welcomed Mr. Birch to the city.
The Mayor pointed out that this project raised an issue with Planner Commissioner Spaulding that approval of this request may set precedence for other variance requests in this neighborhood since the lots are small. She asked the City Forester if any of the homes around the lake are setback 200 ft. from the shoreline.
Forester Nayes stated that none of the homes are setback that far and could not be built at that setback as the lots are small.
Mayor Park suggested that Council could request the Planner and City Attorney to review what setbacks would be appropriate for this neighborhood and if special conditions could be approved just for this area.
Councilmember Williams agreed that it would make sense to define this neighborhood since the whole area would be non-conforming under the current regulations. He also suggested that setbacks from the road be reviewed as this would also impact this neighborhood.
The Mayor pointed out that Council normally does not prefer to grant variances.
Attorney Kuntz explained that he could discuss with the Planner the possibility of changing the zoning standard for this neighborhood, but he would also have to check with the State due to their regulations on shoreline properties.
Councilmember Williams asked if the City could define standards for construction in just this area.
The City Attorney indicated that it may be more appropriate to draft findings to support variances for only this neighborhood.
Engineer Sterna pointed out that locating a second septic system location would be challenge due to the size of the lots in this area. He noted that Inver Grove Heights may be extending their sewer line from the south to eventually reach 60th Street and it may be possible for some homes on this lake to be serviced with a small force main. He offered to discuss the matter with Inver Grove Heights in the future.
Mayor Park asked if Council needs to take action on this matter and Attorney Kuntz suggested Council direct staff to study the issues.
Councilmember Williams moved to direct staff to draft a preliminary report on alternatives for variance requests and septic services for the properties in the neighborhood surrounding Horseshoe Lake, seconded by Councilmember Wahlstrom and carried (5-0)
b. Consider Minor Site & Building Plan Review and Variance, 331 Salem Church Road, Sena Kihtir: Planner Grittman explained the application for a Minor Site Plan review and variance of an addition to an existing home at 331 Salem Church Road.
Applicant Sena Kihtir stated that he works in the City of St. Paul, has two children and her mother living with her at this location. She advised she purchased the home in December, 2015 and that she needs one extra bedroom and bathroom for her son. She noted that building the addition above the garage was the only appropriate area due to the lakeshore setbacks.
The Planner advised that the existing home is non-conforming and sits well within the 200 ft. Ordinary High Water Level (OHWL) setback from the lake, therefore a variance is required for the expansion of a legal non-conforming use. He noted that no action is required on the minor site and building plan review as the addition meets are City Code requirements.
Planner Grittman stated that the expansion above the existing garage includes a bedroom, bathroom laundry, workout room and that it is less than 1,000 sq. ft. in size.
Councilmember Wahlstrom asked if the building height meets standards and the Planner responded yes.
The Planner explained that there was no buildable space on the lot for the expansion and that is why the applicant proposed the area over the existing garage. He stated that City Code requirements are met for the proposed lighting on the garage and that there are no changes to the driveway or impervious surface on the lot with the expansion. He advised that the septic system was recently updated with the proposed expansion in mind.
Planner Grittman advised that the Department of Natural Resources Hydrologist reviewed the plan and had no comments or concerns.
Planning Commission and staff recommend approval of the Variance request to build within the Shoreland Setback based on the findings of fact as listed in the Planner’s report dated May 11, 2016 and subject to the conditions as listed.
Councilmember Williams asked the size of the one stall garage expansion and the Planner responded it would be 8 ft.
Councilmember Wahlstrom noted that the City Code requires that seeded glass be used for outdoor lighting and asked if the applicant was aware of that conditions.
Applicant Sena Kihtir stated she was not aware of the lighting condition and that she was glad it was brought to her attention.
Mayor Park noted that the neighbors residing in the area above the proposed expansion had expressed concern relating to the increased height of the existing garage and possible screening options.
Planner Grittman advised that the City cannot require screening for a minor site plan review or for the variance and stated that the applicant and the neighbors had agreed to verbally discuss screening options for the site.
Sena Kihtir explained that her lot contains very tall trees that would screen the view from the neighbor’s property with foliage. She commented that they may see the expansion when the leaves are gone. She pointed out that the are some pine trees on her property that appear to be losing leaves due to lack of sun and that it may be possible for the neighbors to install additional trees on their property for screening.
Planner Grittman advised that the proposed expansion meets the City Code height requirement.
Senar Kihtir further explained that there is a second story on a portion of the existing home and the garage expansion would not exceed the height of the second story portion of the home.
Mayor Park asked if the variance is due to the expansion of the home.
The Planner responded yes, but noted it is due to the fact that the home is located on the lake.
The Mayor asked if there were any further questions and there was no response.
Councilmember Williams moved to adopt Resolution No. 16-14 titled, RESOLUTION APPROVING A VARIANCE to construct a home addition within the 200-foot shoreland setback based on the finding of fact as listed in the Planner’s Report dated May 11, 2016 and subject to the conditions as listed, seconded by Councilmember Hove and carried. (5-0)
c. Planner’s Report: Planner Grittman reviewed the following information listed in his report dated June 1, 2016 and stated that the June meeting was cancelled due to lack of an application. He explained that an application for a Conditional Use Permit for a second accessory structure was submitted and would be reviewed at the July Planning Commission meeting. He advised that two (2) residents had applied for a bee keeping permit, however, one of the applications was withdrawn due to a neighbor’s allergy to bees.
Mayor Park explained that she asked staff to research the number of variance requests in the past few years.
Planner Grittman noted that staff had conducted a study a few years ago to determine how many homes are within the 200 ft. shoreland setback around the lakes.
The Mayor advised that Forester Nayes had shared information regarding bee keeping studies at the U of M St. Paul Campus and asked that he review this with Council.
Forester Nayes explained that the Bee Lab at the U of M Campus may be used as a resource for bee keeping information and that persons from the lab could also manage bee keeping operations.
Mayor Park suggested that the Forester invite a representative from the Bee Lab at the U of M to attend a Council meeting in July or August in order to provide educational information and to discuss the application process.
Forester Nayes agreed and commented that a resident, Mr. Connors, had offered to show interested parties his bee operation.
Councilmember Williams explained that he used to keep bees and explained that by installing a fenced area near the hives it requires the bees to fly over the fence at a higher level which reduces the risk of people getting stung.
Forester Nayes explained that he recommended the approved bee keeping permit be moved a bit further from the walking trail to deter bee stings.
Council thanked the Planner for his report.
7. STAFF REPORTS: a. BUILDING INSPECTOR: Mayor Park explained that Inspector Andrejka had a scheduling conflict and was unable to attend the meeting this evening. Council received his report dated June 1, 2016 that listed two (2) permits issued and six (6) permits closed in May.
b. CITY ENGINEER: Engineering Activities Undertaken in May: A. Snow Plowing Invoice Resolution: Engineer Sterna stated that the invoicing issue with the snow plowing contractor was resolved for a total amount of $26, 182.75. He advised that the higher than anticipated costs were mostly due to the salt/sand mixture used during the season. He commented that the performance with this company was not positive and that he would investigate new vendors for the upcoming season. He advised that the costs were still below the budgeted amount of $30,000 for the season.
B. Charlton Road Improvement Meeting Update: The Engineer stated that an Open House meeting was held on May 11 to discuss options and gather input from residents on potential improvements to Charlton Road and funding options for the improvements. He stated that the meeting was well attended and there was good conversation with property owners on the road. He recommended that a meeting be scheduled so that he could walk the road with residents to show and define the areas proposed for improvement and discuss what could be done. He indicated the improvement area should be defined prior to sending a survey to property owners asking for their input. He also explained that MnDOT would be willing to pave a portion of the road as part of their project on Highway 110, however, there is a deadline for responding to MnDOT if the City wishes to be included in their project.
Mayor Park asked about installation of the fire hydrants as part of the MnDOT project.
Engineer Sterna stated he would approach MnDOT about installing a casing pipe across the highway and ask what the cost would be to the City. He explained that he asked St. Paul Water Department about allowing the City to connect to their hydrant in West St. Paul and enter into a maintenance agreement and they agreed. He further stated that the Fire Chief recommended two hydrants be installed at St. Anne’s Church and that the costs for the water main and hydrants would be approximately $93,000.
Mayor Park pointed out that the Charlton Road residents task force wishes to prepare a questionnaire for property owners along the road and agreed that a walk of the roadway with the City Engineer and residents would be preferable. She indicated that the City may be able to customize a plan for the road improvements such as installing curb in some areas and removal of trees in other areas. She pointed out that the residents need to know what should be included in the questionnaire before it is sent.
Jake Crandall, Charlton Road resident, agreed that a specific proposal should be defined prior to sending out a survey and that in his opinion the resident should be asked their reason for supporting or not-supporting the proposed improvements.
Engineer Sterna stated he would be willing to walk the road with residents and “spray paint” the areas to define and identify areas for improvement. He also suggested contacting Xcel Energy to receive input on the powerline situation on the road.
Mr. Crandall pointed out that there is approximately six feet of roadway near his home where a curb installation would assist with future road maintenance.
Ibby Hammett, Charlton Road resident, asked if core samples would be taken throughout the road as part of this walk.
Engineer Sterna explained that would be a separate issue and, due to the cost, most likely deferred until the next phase of the proposed improvements.
Ms. Hammett stated in her opinion it should be done along the entire road and Engineer Sterna agreed.
There was discussion relating to scheduling the road walk event sometime in June.
Meg Garrick, Chalrton Road resident asked if the task force could obtain the survey that was sent to resident in 2009.
Engineer Sterna stated he would forward the information to her.
Councilmember Hovey asked if the information could also be sent to Council and the Engineer responded yes.
The Engineer advised Ms. Hammett that he recommends the damage post at the curve on Charlton Road not be repaired until winter since it does not affect the guardrail function at this time.
Ms. Hammett asked if the reflectors could be replaced at this time and the Engineer stated he would install them.
C. 2016-2020 CIP Update: Engineer Sterna distributed copies of the draft 2017-2021 CIP that was sent to Council and advised that he would discuss the document at the next meeting. He advised the last major road improvement was tentatively scheduled for 2017 on the east end of Salem Church Road and with that completed, all roads within the City should be in good condition. He suggested that there may be some discussion regarding improvement to 55th Street.
Public Works Activities Undertaken in the Month of May: 2016 Crack Seal and Seal Coat Project: The Engineer advised that the contract for the Seal Coat and rack Seal projects are ready for signature and the improvements should begin shortly after the July 4th holiday week.
B. Charlton Road Grading: Engineer Sterna stated that Charlton Road surface was scarified, gravel added and regraded at the end of May.
Councilmember Hovey stated the road needs to be done again.
The Engineer advised he would review the road next month. He stated that typically a dust control agent is applied annually on the road and asked the Council to authorize the application of the dust control agent. He stated the cost typically ranges from $1,500 to $1, 750.
Councilmember Hovey noted that some residents have health issues with the dust and agreed it should be done.
Councilmember Williams moved to authorize the expenditure not to e3xceed $2,000 for dust control application on Charlton Road, seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (5-0)
Anticipated Engineering and Public Works Activities for June : A. Charlton Road Potential Improvements: The Engineer stated he would continue to coordinate with the citizen task force to schedule a time to walk the road and prepare the questionnaire.
B. 2017 City Improvement Project Discussion: Engineer Sterna explained that he would present the draft Feasibility Report and discuss the CIP at the July meeting.
Attorney Kuntz asked the Engineer the final date for Council to decide if they wish to be included in the MnDOT improvement project for installation of a bituminous surface at the north end of Charlton Road and installation of the casing pipe.
The Engineer advised that the Council should decide at their July meeting whether or not they wish to be included in the MnDOT project as the contracts would be finalized soon.
Councilmember Bulach asked what the cost would be for the installation of just the casing pipe and not the hydrants.
The Engineer advised it would be approximately $10,000 to $15,000 for only the pipe installation and that the hydrants could be installed at a later date.
Councilmember Williams stated the opportunity to install the pipe may be less costly if it is done with the MnDOT project and the City could budget and spread the cost for the hydrant installation over a period of years. He stated Council could decide in July whether to install the pipe and improve the north end of Charlton Road.
Councilmember Bulach stated that Council should have a cost estimate for both items prior to making a decision.
Engineer Sterna stated he would contact MnDOT to get cost estimates for both items.
Mayor Park explained that the residents would conduct the walk on Charlton Road with the Engineer in June and then prepare and send the questionnaire in July which may not be sufficient time to make a decision.
Councilmember Hovey agreed and stated that MnDOT would not provide curbs or other amenities if the City is included as part of their project. He commented that the City may have to re-do the north portion of the road in that area.
Councilmember Williams commented that in his opinion it makes no sense to install the bituminous material at the north end of the road at this time only to re-do it in the future. Mayor Park agreed and stated that in her opinion the pipe installation makes more sense.
Attorney Kuntz asked if Council wished to have the City Treasurer review possible funding options if MnDOT declines sharing the costs for the pipe installation on the road to determine if the City has funds to complete the project.
Council concurred and asked the City Treasurer to review the budget and determine if funding was available.
Council thanked the Engineer for his report.
c. CITY FORESTER: Forester Nayes stated he issued two (2) burning permits in May and that Arbor Day was held on May 1 at the new wildflower garden on Salem Church Road and Windy Hill Road with good attendance. He stated he removed weight limit signs on May 2 and picked disposed of a refrigerator, box spring and other debris that was dumped along Angell Road. He asked that anyone witnessing dumping in the City to call 911 or contact the Forester to so that he may remove the debris to discourage future dumping. He stated he mowed the trail at Musser Park and removed deer tree protection tubes from the trees; he also sprayed burdock in Harmon Park.
The Forester stated he met with Master Recycler Shari Hansen regarding the Green Steps program and invited Council to attend a future meeting on June 20. He noted that the City would be recognized at the League of Minnesota Cities conference in St. Paul on June 15.
Council thanked the Forester for his report.
d. PUBLIC SAFETY: Chief Shaver reviewed his report dated May 24, 2016 and advised that the false alarms were higher than the same time period last year. He advised that he had been working with the Dakota County Energy Management department on preparation of the Hazardous Mitigation Plan and that he would send a draft of the document to Council and staff for their review.
Council thanked the Chief for his report.
8. NEW/OTHER BUSINESS: a. Discuss Draft 217-2021 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP): Engineer Sterna explained that this item was distributed under his report earlier on the agenda and would be discussed at a future meeting.
b. Other: Draft Letter to MnDOT Regarding City Concerns Related to Improvement of Highway 110: Councilmember Williams distributed a revised draft of a letter he had sent to Council that outlined the City’s concerns regarding the proposed MnDOT improvements on Highway 110. He discussed the concerns expressed by Council, residents and the Police Chief relating to U-turns at Mendota Road. He noted that the Police Chief had suggested installing an access lane from Mendota Road onto the highway in order to accommodate U-turns. He stated he would continue to work with Mayor Park to insure the letter succinctly expresses the City’s concerns relating to the intersection of Highway 110 and Mendota Road and to advise MnDOT that although the City accepts the project, there are still major concerns.
Mayor Park asked the City Attorney if action is required and Attorney Kuntz recommended a motion to authorize Councilmember Williams and the Mayor to prepare the letter on behalf of the City Council.
Mayor Park asked that Council review the draft that is prepared and forward any insights or comments to either her or Councilmember Williams by email. She stated the final draft would be sent to Council for their review.
Councilmember Wahlstrom moved to authorize the Mayor and Councilmember Williams to prepare a letter on behalf of the City Council to MnDOT that outlines the City’s concerns relating to the intersection at Mendota Road and Highway 100 as presented in the proposed 2017 MnDOT Improvement project on Highway 110, seconded by Councilmember Hovey and carried. (5-0)
Discuss Proposed Annual Deer Hunt: Councilmember Hovey stated the aerial deer count showed 58 deer within the City, which is not an improvement from the last aerial count. He offered to contact the Metro Bow Hunters to find possible dates for the 2016 Deer Management Plan and asked City Attorney to prepare a draft document for Council review at the July meeting.
Clerk Iago asked if anyone would be absent for the July meeting in order to determine if a quorum would be present.
Councilmember Bulach stated he would not attend and the remaining Councilmembers stated they would be available.
Kitsy Nye thanked Councilmember Williams for initiating the letter to MnDOT expressing residents’ concerns. She pointed out that at the City meeting with MnDOT as resident had recommended placing a “No Right Turn on Red” sign at the Mendota Road intersection and MnDOT Engineer Molly Klein made a comment that most people ignore signage.
The Mayor thanked Kitsy Nye for her comments and asked if here was any further business; there was no response,
9. ADJOURN: Councilmember Hovey moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:20 p.m. seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried (5-0)
Catherine Iago, City Clerk Molly Park, Mayor