SUNFISH LAKE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – JULY 20, 2016
7:00 P.M. – ST. ANNE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Chair: Tom Hendrickson
Commissioners: Ginny Beckett, Shari Hansen, Dan O’Leary and Alan Spaulding.
City Planner: Ryan Grittman
City Clerk: Cathy Iago
1. CALL TO ORDER: Chair Hendrickson called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
2. ADOPT AGENDA: Chair Hendrickson asked if there were any additions to the agenda and there was no response.
Commissioner O’Leary moved to adopt the agenda, seconded by Commissioner Hansen and carried (5-0)
3. APPROVE MINUTES MAY 18, 2016: Chair Hendrickson asked if there were any additions or corrections to the
May 18, 2016 Planning Minutes.
Commissioner O’Leary stated he found a typing error on page 1 of the minutes and asked that the word “with” be changed to “width”.
Commissioner Hansen also noted a typing error on page 6 of the minutes and requested the word “height” be changed to “heights”. She also referred to paragraph 3 under the continued public hearing for the property at 5865 So. Robert Trail and recommended that the clerk to change the word “withhold” in the second sentence to “uphold” when referring to the access driveway construction to support the weight of a firetruck.
Chair Hendrickson asked if there were any further corrections and there was no response.
Commissioner O’Leary moved to approve the May 18, 2016 Planning Commission minutes as corrected, seconded by Commissioner Beckett and carried. (5-0)
4. PUBLIC HEARING: A. Conditional Use Permit for Second Accessory Structure, 55 Salem Church Road, Luis Escoto : Chair Hendrickson opened the public hearing and asked the Planner to review the application.
Planner Grittman referred to his report dated July 12, 2016 regarding the application for a minor site and building plan review and a conditional use permit for a second accessory structure at 55 Salem Church Road. He explained that the Minor Site/Building Plan review does not require action from the Commission. He stated the property is zoned R-1, Single Family Residential and is not located in the Shoreland District.
The Planner stated that the accessory structure would be located on the southwest side of the existing home and sport court. He advised the project will increase the hard surface on the site. He noted that the changes are less than 1,000 sq. ft. in total area which is considered a minor site and building project and does not require Commission or Council approval, only staff verification that the proposed project is in compliance with Zoning Ordinance requirements.
Planner Grittman advised that because the structure is considered a second accessory structure on the parcel, a Conditional Use Permit is necessary and requires approval from the Commission and Council.
The Planner noted that the lot area of 2.82 gross acres is conforming and that the building height at 9 ft. 6 inches also meets the R-1 District standards. He advised the building plans did not specify what type of shingles would be used on the structure since they are sold separately. He stated that the siding for the project is LP Smart Panel siding. He advised that both the siding and shingles are subject to review by Council. He noted that no lighting is proposed on the structure.
Planner Grittman advised that the project would minimally increase the hard surface on the site and therefore the City Engineer reviewed the application. The City Engineer requested an updated site plan that shows the items listed in his report dated June 21, 2016, as follows:
1. An updated Landscape Plan noting existing trees and any additional trees that were planted within 50 ft. of the
2. The proposed distances from the shed to the sport court and from the shed to the driveway;
3. The addresses and distances of the shed from adjacent lot lines;
4. The setbacks for the shed should be marked on the plan; and
5. Septic and well locations should be shown on the plan.
Commissioner O’Leary asked if the plan shown this evening addresses the Engineer’s requests.
Planner Grittman responded no and stated he forwarded the Engineer’s report to the applicant but no revised plans were submitted that address the Engineer’s requests.
The Planner explained that the applicant is not proposing to remove any trees at this time. He reviewed the Site and Building Plan criteria listed in his report that relate to the following:
- The compatibility of the structure with the surrounding community, preserving the character and nature of the
natural landscape and woodland characteristics of the community;
- Whether or not the proposed improvement is constructed with suitable materials,
- Whether or not the proposed improvement would adversely affect the natural resources of the community;
- Whether or not the improvement would have adverse effect upon adjacent residential properties,
- Whether or not the site improvements comply with the City Code drainage requirements, and;
- Whether the improvements are consistent with the purposes of the City Code and Property Owner Reference
and Development Guide as established by City Council Resolution.
Planner Grittman stated that staff found the addition will blend visually with the existing home and employ exterior materials and design that conform to site structures, Zoning Ordinance requirements and the surrounding community. He noted that due to the location of the project, existing tree coverage and screening on site, the proposed project is not anticipated to be overly visible from adjacent properties. He further explained that the project minimizes impacts to the site grading, drainage and natural vegetation and met the City Engineer’s requirements in that regard. He advised the project met Ordinance criteria for approval of site and building plan by the City.
The Planner also reviewed the Conditional Use Permit criteria as shown on pages 4 and 5 of his report and the possible adverse effects of the proposed conditional use as listed on page 5 and 6 of his report. He stated that staff approves the Minor Site and Building Plan with the four conditions as listed on page 6 of the Planner’s report;
1. Provide a sample or photo of the singles to be used on the shed;
2. Update the plans with the recommendations from the City Engineer’s reported dated Jun 21, 2016;
3. Contact Planning and Engineering staff to arrange pre- and post-construction site visits to confirm all conditions
have been met; and,
4. Obtain a building permit from the City Building Official prior to beginning construction of the project.
Chair Hendrickson asked if there were any questions from the Commission and there was no response. He opened the public hearing to questions from the audience.
Brent and Florence Baskfield, 90 Salem Church Road, were present. Mr. Baskfield asked if the Commission had received the letters and email from him and other property owners that were sent to the Planner.
Chair Hendrickson stated he did not receive that information from the Planner and the other Commissioners advised they had not received the information either.
Mr. Baskfield commented that the correspondence sent to the Planner should be reviewed by the Commission before they make a recommendation. He encouraged the Commission to postpone this matter until they could review the concerns from other property owners in the area.
Planner Grittman stated he received eight (8) letters and some telephone calls from neighbors, all of which objected to the proposal. He indicated that he was unaware the letters should be forwarded to the Commission unless the person specifically asked that they be sent.
Mr. Baskfield stated that in his opinion he and the neighbors would feel the Commission had fulfilled the obligation of conducting a public hearing if these letters were distributed and submitted before any recommendation was made to Council.
Chair Hendrickson asked if Mr. Baskfield was opposed to the project.
Mr. Baskfield responded yes and commented that the applicant has blatantly disregarded his property by leaving debris in his yard and on the driveway. He stated that in his opinion the applicant is not a good neighbor and that his concerns were detailed in his letter. He commented that he heard from many other residents who received notice of the public hearing and they also did not favor the request.
Chair Hendrickson explained that the information reviewed by the Commission this evening shows that the proposed structure is in conformance with the Zoning Code and therefore the Commission has sufficient information to make a decision on the matter. He advised that by State law the Commission is required to recommend approval of the request if it meets the criteria outlined in the City Ordinances. He advised that unless the opposition expressed by the neighbors relates directly to the structure proposed, the information included in the comments would not deter a recommendation for approval. He also explained that there was a transitional staffing period between the new and old planning staff and most likely the new planner was not told that the letters should be forwarded with the materials for the public hearing. He stated that he would work to insure this does not happen if another staffing transition occurs.
Chair Hendrickson asked if there were any further comments from the public and hearing none, closed the public hearing.
Commissioner O’Leary stated that in light of not receiving the correspondence from neighboring property owners he would read the letter he received from Virginia Coss, 295 Salem Church Road, who was unable to attend this meeting. He explained that the concern related to an unfinished deck which should have prevented a Certificate of Occupancy for the property, trees that were planted along the right-of-way on Salem Church Road, and numerous cars, trucks, trailers and “junk” in the front yard of the property. He stated that the Planner indicated the phone calls expressed similar concerns. Commissioner O’Leary noted that he contacted Paul Swett, Code Specialist with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, regarding the unfinished deck with the board across the patio door. He was told this is not a code violation in Minnesota as long as the patio door is secured on the outside to prohibit exit. He noted the patio door may have a 4 inch opening from the inside if it is secured on the outside. He pointed out that Mr. Swett explained this is not uncommon when building a home since people usually run low on funds and are unable to complete the deck. He related a story of a young child who was killed because his father removed the board securing the patio door. He advised that it is not the job of the Commission to regulate conduct that leads to an unsightly yard, only to review the application to insure the structure meets the City Code regulations. He agreed that the Commission should review the samples of shingles to insure they are compatible with the existing home and he noted that Mr. Escoto expressed the fact that he would attempt to match the existing shingles.
Commissioner Beckett asked if the Commission should review the siding prior to taking action.
Chair Hendrickson explained that the structure is sold as a “kit” and he was unsure if LP Smart Panels are an approved material in the City Code. He stated that Council requested the Commission not forward any application to them for action until such time as the application was complete and all information was submitted and reviewed by the Commission. He also noted that the City Engineer recommended denial of the request until such time as the applicant submits the information requested in his report. He suggested that this matter be tabled until the City Engineer receives the revised plan from the applicant and recommends approval of the request.
Commissioner Beckett agreed and stated that in her opinion it is important that neighbors or residents who submitted correspondence relating to an application should be reviewed by the Commission.
Chair Hendrickson recommended the application be tabled until the applicant submits the revised plan.
Chair Hendrickson moved to continue the public hearing and to table the application for a Conditional Use Permit at 55 Salem Church Road until such time as the applicant submits a revised plan that addresses the items listed in the Engineer’s report dated June 21, 2016 and receives a recommendation of approval from the Engineer and to direct the Planner to include any correspondence from property owners to the Planning Commission as part of this continued agenda item, seconded by Commissioner Beckett and carried. (5-0)
Mr. Escoto commented that it is hard for him to go around and measure the items requested by the Engineer. He commented that he should not be denied this request due to nosey neighbors who complain. He explained that the City made him plant pine trees around the tennis court because the neighbors complained and that it cost him $10,000 to do the planting.
Chair Hendrickson explained that the plantings are required in the Zoning Code for several types of zoning requests and that Mr. Escoto was not the only person that was required to install screening.
Mr. Escoto stated there are only two-percent of the neighbors complaining about his property and commented that there is nothing he can do to please unhappy people.
Chair Hendrickson explained that the Commission tabled the matter to allow time for Mr. Escoto to verify and document the information requested by the City Engineer. He noted that the plan submitted was 16 years old and that Mr. Escoto may find that the measurements are fine, but this information needs to be shown on the revised plan he submits.
Commissioner O’Leary explained that the Commission requires this type of information from all applicants.
Commissioner Spaulding explained that if the plan did not show the current septic system location and Mr. Escoto decided to build the structure in that area, it could collapse the septic system.
Chair Hendrickson stated that Mr. Escoto should verify that all the trees that were shown in the landscape plan have been planted and that there are no less or fewer than required. He also stated that the plan should show that there are no trees within 50 ft. of the construction area for the structure.
Mr. Escoto stated that the well and septic system locations are already on the plan he submitted.
Chair Hendrickson stated that Mr. Escoto only needs to verify the location of the well and septic system on the revised plan he submits. He suggested that a sample or a photo of the shingles he proposes to use should also be brought to the next meeting.
Mr. Escoto asked that the Commission tell him what kind of shingles are allowed and he would purchase them.
Chair Hendrickson suggested that Mr. Escoto contact Planner Grittman to provide the specifications for the shingles.
Chair Hendrickson asked if there would be sufficient time to publish the notice and mail information for the August Planning meeting and Planner Grittman responded yes.
Mr. Escoto explained that he would be on vacation in August and may not get the information to the Commission for a while.
Chair Hendrickson suggested that Mr. Escoto contact the Planner to discuss the deadlines and when he will be ready to submit the revised plan. He advised Mr. Escoto that after the Planning Commission reviews the revised plan he submits, this application would be forwarded to Council for approval and then he would apply for a building permit to begin construction of the shed.
There was discussion by the Commission relating to the LP Smart Panel system for the structure.
Commission Spaulding advised that the material could be viewed on the LP Siding website; he noted that it is similar to LP Siding, but it has metal seams between the panels. He stated he was unsure if it would match the home.
Chair Hendrickson pointed out that the home is stucco and therefore the siding would not match. He indicated that the Commission cannot regulate the design of the structure, only insure it meets the standards in the City Code.
Planner Grittman explained that Council determined the design guidelines for residents should not be changed at this time since new products are introduced every year. He noted that Council retained the option to approve any new materials if they deem them appropriate and in accord with the design standards.
Brent Baskfield stated he was puzzled as to why the Planner did not forward the letters and emails from residents to the Commission.
Commissioner O’Leary explained that there was a recent transition with planning staff and the previous planner most likely did not advise the new planner that this was necessary. He stated that he would remember to review this with a new planner if a staffing change occurs in the future.
Chair Hendrickson apologized that this was not discussed with the planning staff and pointed out that there was only a brief period of time between the staff change and therefore, it may have been overlooked.
Mr. Baskfield asked if the Commission would receive the letters and/or emails at the next meeting when this items is discussed and Chair Hendrickson responded yes.
5. PUBIC HEARING: B. Zoning Ordinance Amendment Relating to Temporary Health Care Units: Chair Hendrickson opened the meeting for the purpose of a public hearing on a proposed Zoning Ordinance Amendment relating to Temporary Health Care Units and asked the Planner to review the information.
Planner Grittman referred to his report dated July 12, 2016 and explained that the State Legislature passed a law purporting to require municipalities to allow “temporary family health care dwellings” that are detached mobile units that may be placed on a parcel of land for a period of up to one year. He advised that the new law defines these dwellings, requires their accommodation, but includes an “opt-out” provision that permit a city to exempt themselves from the provisions of the Minnesota State Statutes Section 462.3593. He noted that the League of Minnesota Cities lobbied for the “opt out” provision so that municipalities may choose to prohibit the units or allow them with provisions that are unique to the individual city.
The Planner explained that the mobile health care units do not meet the City of Sunfish Lake’s Design Guidelines; the siding on the units appears to be vinyl or painted metal, and they are unlikely to match existing structures and surroundings. He also advised that the statute does not specify that the units are only allowed in residential districts and therefore could be placed in the institutional districts such as churches. He noted that the state law requires these units meet the setbacks of the principal structure, which may prove difficult on lots within the City where the principal home is already occupying the only buildable space on the lot and would require a setback variance.
Planner Grittman pointed out that the units come with an optional gray water filter and discharge system that is used as an irrigation system. He noted that on many lots in the City this could cause runoff into the lake and wetlands and therefore if the City adopted an ordinance, it should restrict or disallow a gray water discharge system. He further explained that some of the units could be connected to an existing septic system, however, if the existing system is already at capacity, taking on an additional unit could overwhelm the system.
Staff recommends that the City pass an ordinance to “opt out” of the law which allows time for the City to consider adopting regulations with more specific requirements that meet Sunfish Lake zoning objectives. He noted that the City has the option to take no action and allow the units in the City, to pass the “opt out” ordinance and allow time for the City to consider if they wish to adopt more restrictive regulations or determine that they do not favor the units as an accessory structure and prohibit their use. He noted that the new law takes effect September 1, 2016 and that timely action is necessary.
Chair Hendrickson asked if the units are for a patient or their health care provider.
Planner Grittman stated the unit would house the patient and only one person per unit and one unit per lot.
Chair Hendrickson pointed out that if the units were allowed with conditions they could be regulated under a Conditional Use Permit, but he noted that the City doesn’t allow additional living units on a parcel under the current Zoning Code regulations.
Planner Grittman agreed that the current regulations do not allow a second dwelling unit on a parcel.
Commissioner Spaulding stated that in his opinion the intent of the new law does not apply to Sunfish Lake since 90 percent of the homes have sufficient space to keep an elderly relative in the principal structure. He supported recommending the City adopt the “opt out” ordinance.
Commissioner O’Leary stated he agrees with the intent of the legislation, but that in his opinion it does not pertain to Sunfish Lake properties. He noted that it would be an administrative hassle for staff to administer and enforce the requirements if the units were allowed.
Chair Hendrickson asked if there were any further comments from the Commission. He noted that there were no audience members present and closed the public hearing.
Commissioner O’Leary moved to recommend that Council adopt an ordinance amendment opting out of the State Statute and to advise Council that the Planning Commission concurred that the intent of the law to allow temporary health care units does not apply to Sunfish Lake properties since housing could be provided within the confines of the principal structure on most properties within the City, seconded by Commissioner Spaulding and carried.
Chair Hendrickson asked if there was any further business and there was no response.
ADJOURN: Commissioner O’Leary moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:45 p.m., seconded by Commissioner Hansen and carried. (5-0)
Catherine Iago, City Clerk