- DRAFT -
SUNFISH LAKE SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING – DECEMBER 5, 2017
5:00 P.M. - ST. ANNE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Mayor: Richard Williams
Councilmembers: Mike Hovey, JoAnne Wahlstrom, Steven Bulach and Dan O’Leary
City Attorney: Tim Kuntz
City Building Official: Mike Andrejka
City Planner: Ryan Grittman
City Engineer: Don Sterna
City Forester: Jim Nayes
City Treasurer: Ann Lanoue
City Clerk: Cathy Iago
1. CALL TO ORDER: Mayor Williams called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m.
2. CONSULTANT REVIEWS: Mayor Williams explained the purpose of the special meeting was to conduct reviews for the consultants. He explained that each consultant would review their work plan for the past year and discuss any upcoming issues or concerns they foresee for the upcoming year.
CITY CLERK/ADMINISTRATOR: Mayor Williams and the Council agreed that the City Clerk/Administrator had done an excellent during the year.
Clerk Iago reviewed her report dated December 5, 2017 which outlined her work during for the past year. She explained that her workload had increased due to meeting the mandates associated with the Dakota County Recycling Grant and that she was looking forward to delegating those duties to the newly hired Recycling Coordinator the City recently hired. She stated she continues to work with the Mayor and Newsletter Editor to produce the Sunfish Lake Quarterly Newsletter, the records purge of City files and to maintain an excellent working relationship with Council, staff and residents.
The Clerk stated that in the upcoming year she plans to work on files stored at Lilydale City Hall in order to prepare for digital records storage. She explained that she would continue working with the Planner on the Comprehensive Plan update. She also noted that she would monitor information from other government entities to determine if there are any issues that may impact Sunfish Lake and keep Council informed. She stated that she would continue to maintain an excellent working relationship with Council, staff and residents. She commented that she would attempt to send agenda items to the City website in a timelier manner.
Clerk Iago explained that she would continue to use available resources, such as the League of Minnesota Cities and the Minnesota Clerks and Finance Officers Association for updated procedures and issues related to her job.
Council asked if the Clerk needed assistance with the records purge, such as hiring a records intern.
Clerk Iago stated that the delay relates to finding the time to go Lilydale City Hall to review the files, not with having a person to assist her and that she would make an effort to spend more time purging the files.
Clerk Iago stated that she enjoys working for the City and with Council and staff.
Council concurred the Clerk has done an excellent job and thanked her for her work during the past year.
BUILDING OFFICIAL: Mayor Williams explained the information Council is requesting the consultants; review their work plan for the past year, discuss any upcoming issues for next year and point out any challenges they foresee in 2018.
Inspector Andrejka explained that he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the City and that he is accessible for inspections or questions seven (7) days per week.
Mayor Williams asked if there was anything the Council could do to make his job easier or to improve the process.
The Building Inspector advised that staff communication has gotten better since he started with the City and that he had discussed the need to make sure information is communicated between the staff to insure projects are done correctly.
Councilmember O’Leary asked if the Engineer and Planner are also doing site visits with the Inspector.
Inspector Andrejka explained that staff had discussed having a pre-construction meeting and on-site visit so that everyone has the proper plans prior to beginning a project and so that he is aware of what needs to be done prior to issuing a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).
Councilmember O’Leary suggested Council advise staff that this should be done and that a procedure should be established prior to issuing a building permit. He pointed out that the Engineer, Planner, Building Inspector and Forester should meet prior to the project starting
Inspector Andrejka agreed and suggested the meeting be held before a building permit is issued and that any changes should be noted at that time.
Clerk Iago suggested that the building or contractor should also attended the meeting so that person is clear on what is expected prior to beginning the work.
After discussion, Council concurred that the Planner should be responsible for setting up the pre-construction meeting. Council asked the Inspector if all staff members should also be together for a post-construction meeting to insure all items have been done properly.
The Building Inspector explained that in his opinion that would not be necessary but that all staff members should communicate to him that the project was completed as approved prior to him issuing a Certificate of Occupancy.
Inspector Andrejka noted that there was complaints regarding the fact that a home was constructed without using the proper siding. He explained that at this time he does not review the proper use of approved building materials however, if directed to do so he would include that as part of the inspection. He also advised that he had prepared a “checklist” for use in the other cities where he works in order to assure all items have been completed prior to issuing a Certificate of Occupancy. He also noted that a copy of the checklist is keep on site at the project for the contractor. He offered to prepare a similar checklist for Sunfish Lake.
Council agreed that a checklist would be a wonderful tool for staff and the contractor to utilize.
Councilmember Williams suggested that staff could prepare an informational sheet of instructions for contractors so that this does not occur in the future.
Mayor Williams asked if the Inspector foresees any challenges in the future or any changes to the building codes.
Inspector Andrejka advised that he does not foresee any changes to the building codes for six (6) years. He pointed out that Fire Sprinklers in homes may become an issue.
The Inspector stated that he has a good working relationship with staff and residents and that he responds promptly to inquiries and to provide inspections in a timely manner.
Council thanked the Inspector for his service to the City and advised that they would advise other staff members of the suggestions relating to creating a policy for site visits prior to construction and preparing a checklist to insure all items are completed before issuing a Certificate of Occupancy.
CITY FORESTER: Mayor Williams explained Council is requesting the consultants to review their work plan for the past year, discuss any upcoming issues for next year and point out any challenges they foresee in 2018.
Forester Nayes advised that he had completed the pruning of trees and planted sixty-one (61) trees this year, including those planted on Arbor Day. He indicated that there may be some additional pruning required next year in conjunction with the proposed Charlton Road improvement project.
The Mayor asked if the Forester drives throughout the City to determine pruning needs and the Forester responded yes. He advised that he also looks for dead Elm trees and that he also watches for Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). He noted he found four (4) trees infested with EAB in the City and that this may become an issue next year.
The Forester recommended that a Tree Inventory be undertaken and explained that there may be potential grant monies available from the DNR.
Councilmember Wahlstrom asked how the grant funds would benefit the City.
The Forester explained the funds could be used to establish an electronic data base to determine what percentages of each species is in the City and what species should be replaced. He explained that it had been proven with Elms and Ash trees that it is not wise to plant the same type of tree throughout the City and that there should be various types planting.
Forester Nayes commented that he would support Council initiating a policy that no plantings be allowed within 10 ft. of any City street. He explained that this would assist with reducing pruning of overhanging branches adjacent to the streets.
The Forester advised that some residents had removed larger trees or several trees from their property without his permission. He explained that the City Code requires residents to contact him prior to removing larger trees or numerous trees from their property. He suggested staff prepare an informational booklet with important regulations that could be sent to all residents and be presented to new residents when they build or move into the City.
Councilmember O’Leary advised that the Building Inspector also discussed distributing an informational pamphlet to new residents.
Forester Nayes advised that he would be out-of-town over the holidays and that he contacted Tim Morgan of Morgan Tree Service to be available in his absence. He stated he would send information to Council and staff regarding contacting Morgan Tree Service if necessary.
Council thanked the Forester for a job well done..
CITY ATTORNEY: The Mayor explained the information Council is requesting from the consultants; review their work plan for the past year, discuss any upcoming issues for next year and point out any challenges they foresee in 2018.
Attorney Kuntz discussed four items that in his opinion have worked well or should be discussed for inclusion next year:
1) Interaction with staff: The Attorney advised that staff continues to work well together and with Council and to
maintain a positive image for the City.
Councilmember O’Leary advised that Council had discussed establishing an on-site visit to construction sites prior to beginning any project in order for staff to resolve any issues before construction begins. He asked if Council should officially adopt this procedure by ordinance.
Mayor Williams stated that the Building Inspector offered to prepare a checklist to be presented to the contractor and kept on-site during construction to insure all items are completed prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy.
Attorney Kuntz agreed that both items would work well towards insuring all conditions of approval are met. He explained that Council need not adopt an ordinance and could formally direct staff to prepare the information. He pointed out that the checklist would allow staff to have the same information from the start and that it should also identify who was responsible for insuring items are completed for each portion of the project.
Mayor Williams suggested that the Planner be responsible for what should be included on the checklist to meet the conditions of approval and for insuring all items are completed as approved.
2. Salem Church Road Project: The Attorney advised that in his opinion the Salem Church Road Improvement Project went well due to the City communication with affected residents prior to beginning the project.
3. Charlton Road: Attorney Kuntz reported that residents who attended the Open House and participated had good questions relating to the proposed project. He indicated that in his opinion the City needs to better communicate to some residents who have not been engaged in the discussions and that a contingent of City representatives may need to personally visit or communicate information to these residents. He noted that some residents indicated they had not received information in a timely manner.
Mayor Williams commented that those residents could have attended the meetings, but he agreed that the City should insure they receive the necessary information.
Council and the Attorney briefly discussed the status of the Charlton Road easements and methods to obtain the easements.
4. Extend the Deer Management Plan: Attorney Kuntz advised that extending the Deer Management Plan for a three-year period was an excellent idea.
Mayor Williams agreed and noted that the City should make an effort to provide better signage during the hunt in response to residents’ concerns.
5. Neighboring Cities: The Attorney pointed out that West St. Paul and Mendota Heights have been generous in integrating their services and extending their assistance to Sunfish Lake much more than in the past. He commented that this benefits residents that those cities extend the mass area of their responsibility to include Sunfish Lake.
Mayor Williams agreed and noted that the Police Chief’s report identifies Sunfish Lake as an adjoining entity.
Councilmember Hovey pointed out that the “logo” on the police vehicles now states ”Serving West St. Paul and Sunfish Lake”.
Attorney Kuntz stated that it is a privilege to work for the City and that he hopes to continue the working relationship.
Council thanked the Attorney for a great job and providing excellent information.
RECESS: Mayor Park called for a brief recess for dinner at 6:00p.m. Council reconvened at 6:15 p.m.
CITY TREASURER: Mayor Williams explained the information Council is requesting from the consultants; review their work plan for the past year, discuss any upcoming issues for next year and point out any challenges they foresee in 2018.
Treasurer Lanoue stated she was still working to get the software package from the State Auditor’s office up and running and noted that the new software would also facilitates the City’s requirements for reporting directly to the State Auditor’s office.
The Treasurer identified three possible challenges for the City in 2018; 1. Financing for the Charlton Road project, 2. What effect the new Federal Tax Bill may have on the City, and, 3. How the projected State budget deficit may affect the City. She explained that she would continue to monitor the City budgets, and continue working with Ehlers & Associates and staff to insure the City is financially secure.
Council concurred that the Treasurer was doing an excellent job.
Treasurer Lanoue stated she is pleased to with Council and staff.
CITY PLANNER: Mayor Williams explained the information Council is requesting from the consultants; review their work plan for the past year, discuss any upcoming issues for next year and point out any challenges they foresee in 2018. He thanked the Planner for his report dated November 29, 2017.
Planner Grittman stated that he made improvement with the post-construction site visits to insure that all conditions have been met and that they are completed promptly.
Mayor Williams explained that the Building Inspector recommended staff using a checklist for projects that identifies items to be completed and who would be responsible for insuring the item was done properly. He further advised that it was recommended appropriate staff meet with the contractor on-site prior to construction so that everyone is one the same page and to insure that the correct plans are used for the project.
The Planner explained that he normally meets with the Assistant Engineer and the contractor at his office to insure the correct plans are used, however, if the weather and site allow, the meeting could be held on-site. He explained that the Planning Commission does a site visit prior to reviewing all plans.
Councilmember O’Leary advised that Council would establish a policy and direct staff to conduct a pre-construction meeting to insure that everyone received the correct information relating to the project. He advised that Council concurred the Planner should take the lead in the group since he would have the correct information as to what was approved by Council. He noted that the first meeting should include the Planner, Building Inspector, Engineer and Forester so everyone has the same information. He recommended that the checklist prepared for the project should also list who was assigned responsibility to insure that the conditions of the project are completed prior to issuing a Certificate of Occupancy. He stated that in his opinion this would greatly benefit staff, the contractor and the property owner.
Councilmember Bulach agreed and commented that it should be beneficial to the contractor to have the checklist on-site.
Planner Grittman stated he would strive to do better on both the pre and post construction meetings.
Councilmember Hovey asked if the contractor is aware that building plans must remain on site and stapled together throughout the project.
The Planner responded that the contractor should be aware of this and that the plans are dated and pages numbered to insure the correct plans are used for the project. He also noted that changes are made in red on the plans so that they are more visible. He commented that it would be the fault of the contractor and bad site management if the plans do not remain stapled together.
Planner Grittman stated he would be working next year to finish the Comprehensive Plan update by mid-year. He noted that he does not foresee any changes to the Zoning Ordinance with the exception of the small cell wireless issue or if a change is required by adoption of a new State Statute. He indicated that there may be one application for new home construction at 245 Salem Church road, which is a vacant lot.
Councilmember O’Leary explained that during the year Council had discussed preparation of a informational sheet to be distributed to new home owners from the Planner. He asked if this was done.
Planner Grittman explained that he had drafted the informational sheet and presented it to the Forester so that information on landscaping could be included. He advised he was unsure where the document had gone and offered to send a copy to Council
Councilmember O’Leary advised the Forester had suggested a “Welcome to Sunfish Lake” brochure be prepared for distribution to residents and suggested that staff confer on preparing the document.
The Planner stated he would look for samples of informational sheets and prepare a draft for Council review. He advised that he would continue to assist Council and staff to provide high quality assistance to residents.
Councilmember Hovey thanked the Planner for sending his agenda information in a timely manner for posting on the City website.
Council thanked the Planner for an excellent job and for his report.
CITY ENGINEER: The Mayor explained the information Council is requesting from the consultants; review their work plan for the past year, discuss any upcoming issues for next year and point out any challenges they foresee in 2018. He stated that Council has been pleased to work with Engineer Sterna.
Engineer Sterna explained that his strengths are substantial experience with all aspects of engineering, extensive knowledge of the City and excellent people skills. He advised that he would be transitioning away from Sunfish Lake and that he would be training Engineer Jeff Sandberg from his office to work with Sunfish Lake. He noted that Mr. Sandberg has extensive municipal government experience and that he was previously employed as the City Engineer and Public Works Director in the City of Savage. He advised that Erick Ekman would still be assisting with planning reviews. He noted that he would still attend meetings occasionally and that he would continue to work with the Charlton Road project.
Councilmember O’Leary asked if Engineer Sandberg would have the same rapport with MnDOT.
Engineer Sterna responded no, but advised that if questions or issues arise, he would contact MnDOT on behalf of the City.
The Engineer stated that a resident had contacted him regarding the Telander property and the possibility of vacating the cul-de-sac to create a buildable lot. He explained to the resident that they would have to submit a petition to Council to vacate the cul-de-sac, however, he foresees problems with the existing septic system location on the property and that there would be minimal options for construction. He noted that similar problems relating to the need for two septic system locations on lots may occur with smaller lots in the southeast area of the City.
Engineer Sterna advised that he would be meeting with MnDOT on December 7 to discuss the possibility of a frontage road adjacent to Highway 110 from Sunfish Lane to Mendota Road. He noted that he would advise MnDOT the project would have to be fully-funded by MnDOT as the City does not have funds available for the project.
The Engineer noted that he would continue to work on the proposed easement acquisition for the Charlton Road project in 2018.
Council thanked the Engineer for his report and service throughout the year.
Mayor Williams asked if there were any further comments and there was no response.
3. ADJOURN: Mayor Williams called for adjournment 6:58 p.m.
Catherine Iago, City Clerk Richard Williams, Mayor