- DRAFT –
SUNFISH LAKE CITY COUNCIL MEETING – APRIL 5, 2022
7:00 P.M. – ONLINE MEETING
Mayor: Dan O’Leary
Councilmembers: Mike Hovey, Steven Bulach, Shari Hansen, and Ginny Beckett
City Attorney: Tim Kuntz
City Planner: Brandy Howe
City Engineer: Jeff Sandberg
City Treasurer: Ann Lanoue
Building Inspector: Mike Andrejka
City Forester: Jim Nayes
Police Chief: Brian Sturgeon
City Clerk: Cathy Iago
and Members of the General Public.
Planner Lori Johnson was absent.
1. CALL TO ORDER: Mayor O’Leary called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
2. APPROVE AGENDA: Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any additions or corrections to the agenda and there was no response. He thanked Councilmember Hovey for serving as Acting Mayor in his absence.
Councilmember Bulach moved to adopt the agenda as presented, seconded by Councilmember Hansen and carried. (5-0)
3. CONSENT AGENDA: Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any questions or comments relating to any items on the Consent Agenda. He noted that the False Alarms have increased substantially and that he noted this fact in the City newsletter and encouraged residents to inform workers and guests to be cautious with disabling alarms.
The Mayor asked Forester Nayes if he would secure a tree for planting in Musser Park to honor the memory of former Councilmember JoAnne Wahlstrom. He suggested some type of flowering tree would be appropriate.
Forester Nayes recommended that a Tulip Poplar tree would be appropriate and could be planted in Musser Park in honor of Councilmember Wahlstrom.
Mayor O’Leary moved to authorize the City Forester to secure a Tulip Poplar tree for planting in Musser Park to honor former Councilmember JoAnne Wahlstrom, seconded by Councilmember Hovey and carried. (5-0)
Councilmember Hovey asked Chief Sturgeon if the extra patrols were due to the vehicle that was following the FedEx truck in town and if there had been an increase in “porch pirates” stealing delivered items from homes.
Chief Sturgeon explained that there had been “porch” thefts in West St. Paul, but not in Sunfish Lake. He stated there had been calls relating to suspicious vehicles that are usually construction workers entering driveways for work. He encouraged residents to call if they see a vehicle that is unfamiliar on a neighboring property. He noted that the officers were unable to locate the FedEx truck or the vehicle that was following it.
Mayor O’Leary described an incident with a UPS vehicle and a gentleman taking photos of homes, but stated he obtained the license number of the vehicle and talked to the driver who was taking photographs of nature.
Chief Sturgeon stated that residents should call when anything suspicious is seen in their neighborhood.
The Mayor asked if there were any further questions or comments and there was no response.
Councilmember Hovey moved approval of the Consent Agenda as presented, seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (5-0)
a. Regular Council Meeting Minutes of March 1, 2022
b. List of Bills
c. Monthly Financial Statements
d. Receive Building Inspector Report
e. Receive Forester Report
f. Receive Public Safety Report
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.
Mayor O’Leary introduced Planner Brandy Howe from WSB and asked her to provide a brief background for Council.
Planner Howe stated she began working at WSB with Planner Johnson in September last year. She explained that she had worked for the City of River Falls, Wisconsin and also had worked in the Quad Cities, which provided her 15 years of both private and public experience.
6. PLANNING COMMISSION/PLANNER’S REPORT: a. Consider Major Site Plan Review Amendment, 2150 Charlton Road, Applicant Southview Design, Property Owners Erik & Cathy Weiss: Planner Howe referred to Planner Johnson’s report dated April 5, 2022 and explained that the original application was reviewed and recommended for approval by the Planning Commission on January 20, 2022. She stated that after the Planning meeting the applicant approached staff with a new proposed planting plan for the site prior to Council review of the application. After discussion with the applicant and property owner, the decision was made to move forward with the original plan for the walkway, dock and seating area and that an amendment to the Major Site Plan approval could be pursued by the homeowner if changes were made to the landscape plan.
Planner Howe explained that the City Council approved the plan for the walkway, dock and seating area at their February 9, 2022 meeting, but added a condition which clarified that the approval was for only these three elements of the plan and that the landscape plan as presented that evening was not approved. The applicant submitted another application for an amendment to the landscape plan and the application was deemed completed on February 17, 2022.
The Planner stated that the property is located in the R-1 Single Family Residential District and also in the Shoreland District. She noted that the new landscape plan disturbs less area than the original plan and that all proposed plantings would be done by hand with no large equipment being used as discussed on the previously submitted plan.
Planner Howe explained that the Planning Commission recommended approval of the revised landscape/planting plan, based on the Findings of Fact and conditions as listed in the resolution. She further advised that an adjacent neighbor, John Johannsen, 1 Sunfish Lane, offered his support of the revised plan.
Mayor O’Leary noted that Mr. Johannsen had an issue with his dock installation two years ago, and explained that the City found out after the fact that permission is required from the DNR to install a dock and that the dock must meet DNR requirements. He advised that Mr. Johansen had to dismantle his dock since it did not meet the DNR standards. He also noted that on page 4 of the Planner’s report it states that the dock is 30 ft. larger than what is allowed. He further noted that on page 5 of the Planner’s report it states that the plans were sent to the DNR for approval but there is no clarification that the plans must be approved by the DNR. He then noted that the document from the DNR that was attached to the Planner’s report indicated that a permit may not always be necessary if it is only 8 ft. wide and is simply to reach navigable depths and follows other DNR guidelines.
The Mayor explained that, because there may be changes in City staffing, he would recommend that for future clarification of fact, that dock installations must be reviewed and approved by the DNR. Also a condition should be included in all future resolutions which requires the applicant/owner of the property to first determine if a DNR permit is necessary and, if so, that their design meets the DNR regulations.
Councilmember Bulach agreed that the DNR permit would override Council action on the dock installation.
Councilmember Hansen asked if the size of the dock must be changed and staff advised that the applicants had reduced the size of the dock to meet City standards.
Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any further questions or comments and there was no response.
Mayor O’Leary moved to add new language to Condition No. 5 stating: “The applicant/property owner must first check with the DNR to determine if a DNR permit is required for their dock and, if so, whether their dock design meets with DNR approval.”, seconded by Councilmember Hovey and carried. (5-0)
Engineer Sandberg explained that when the home was constructed two years ago, the contractor began to strip the vegetation on the hillside near the lake of invasive species, and staff had to impose a “stop work” order and advise the property owner that they must restore the vegetation on the hillside. He stated that Forester Nayes was working with the contractor and asked that they leave the roots of the Buckthorn that was removed in order to maintain the slope on the hillside.
Forester Nayes explained that the homeowner would be installing plantings that would create a natural low maintenance area and assist with erosion control.
Councilmember Bulach asked if the Buckthorn would be staying or removed when the planting begins.
Forester Nayes explained that Buckthorn roots were treated and the plantings would be placed around their stumps. He explained that the stumps were treated with a chemical that kills them.
Councilmember Beckett asked if the chemical would negatively impact the water quality and the Forester responded no.
Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any further comments or questions and there was no response.
Mayor O’Leary moved to adopt Resolution No. 22-08 titled, resolution approving a major site plan review amendment for a landscape plan relating to the approved plans for a walkway to the lake, a dock and a seating area at 2150 charlton road, sunfish lake, Dakota county, Minnesota, based on the findings of fact and subject to the conditions as amended under Condition No. 5, seconded by Councilmember Hansen and carried. (5-0)
b. Consider Two (2) Conditional Use Permits, 2 Sunfish Lane, Applicant Tim Johnson LIVIT Site + Structure, Property Owner Linval Joseph: Planner Howe referred to Planner Johnson’s report dated April 5, 2022 and explained the request for a Minor Site Plan Review and also two (2) CUP’s which are for an additional accessory structure in the side yard and also for an accessory structure in the front yard. She stated that the site currently has three (3) accessory structures; the pool, hot tub and an existing shed. The two new accessory structures include a new play structure and recreational court.
The Planner explained that the proposed recreational court would be 1,800 sq. ft. and would include a basketball hoop and a surrounding retaining wall with a trap rock border. She stated the court is setback 35 ft. from the side yard which exceeds the required minimum side yard setback of 25 ft. The play structure is a Rainbow Play Systems brand that would be located 25 ft. from the side lot line. She advised that there would be a fenced area on the south side of the existing shed to be used for a dog run and the fence would be 5-ft. high and constructed of black wrought iron. She noted that the fence height and materials meet code requirements.
Planner Howe stated that the applicant plans to lay new sod along the entire west side of the property, plant a small area of seed surrounding the proposed dog run and recreational court, and transplant two (2) Spruce trees for additional screening. She explained that lighting is not allowed and that no lighting is proposed for this area.
The Planner stated that the applicant is proposing to remove 80 cubic yards of excavated soils from the site which could negatively impact the shared private driveway. Staff recommended that the applicant must develop a plan to mitigate the impact, possibly by using smaller trucks to haul lesser loads of soil, and must get written approval from the other residents that are part of the private road maintenance agreement. This agreement must be submitted to the City Engineer prior to any work being performed on site.
Planner Howe stated that the adjacent neighbor at 7 Sunfish Lane shared concerns at the Planning Commission meeting relating to barking dogs, construction traffic on the private drive and possible damage to the road, construction hours and the number of accessory structures allowed in the City. John Johannsen, 1 Sunfish Lane, sent an email stating his concern with possible barking dogs and lighting on the site, however, he was generally supportive of all the improvements.
The Planner explained that the Planning Commission recommended Council approval of the requests. Staff recommends approval of the Minor Site Plan review and the Conditional Use Permits subject to the Findings of Fact and the conditions as listed in the proposed resolution. Staff referred to Conditions No. 10 and 11 which relate to possible construction site erosion that may have migrated to the infiltration basin and a possible negative impact to the private road. The conditions require the applicant to make any necessary corrections to the pond, as directed by a licensed engineer, and that the proposed actions must then be approved by the City. Also, the applicant must develop a plan to mitigate the impact of removing soils from the site and must get written permission from other residents that are part of the private road maintenance agreement.
Mayor O’Leary expressed concern and recalled a similar situation whereby a resident made application for a sport court and was told that no lighting was allowed, but then lighting was installed after the fact. The issue had to be resolved by legal means. He recommended that staff include a condition in all resolutions that clearly states lighting is not permitted at this time or in the future.
Council concurred with the Mayor’s recommendation to include language prohibiting lighting of the sports court now or in the future.
Mayor O’Leary moved to add a new condition No. 5 stating: “That owner, Linval Joseph, and any subsequent owner, understands and agrees that lighting is not allowed for the recreational court and verifies that none will be installed in the future.” Seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (5-0)
Councilmember Hovey referred to the concerns expressed about dogs barking and asked if any solution was provided.
Mayor O’Leary explained that the property owner advised that the dogs would not be outside all day and that the fencing was being installed to allow the dogs to be contained on the property when he was entertaining outside. The Mayor stated that whenever excessive barking occurs on a property, the police should be contacted.
Mayor O’Leary asked the City Attorney if the condition regarding the lighting would be enforceable.
Attorney Kuntz responded yes and pointed out that the City approved resolution runs with the land, not with the property owner, and therefore would be enforceable.
The Mayor asked if there were any further questions or comments and there was no response.
Mayor O’Leary moved to adopt Resolution No. 22-09 titled resolution approving a minor site plan review and two conditional use permits for the property at 2 sunfish lane, sunfish lake, Dakota county, Minnesota, based on the findings of fact and subject to conditions as amended under Condition No. 5, seconded by Councilmember Beckett and carried. (5-0)
c. Consider Zoning Code Amendment for Section 1201.10, Schedule of Administrative Fees, Charges and Expenses: Planner Howe referred to Planner Johnson’s report dated April 5, 2022 and explained that the Planning Commission had reviewed the information at their March 17 meeting and there were three comments and recommended changes to the draft land use application. The changes were: 1) Provide language in the application that indicates when and how the escrow funds will be monitored to ensure that enough funds are available, 2) Provide language in the application that provides an estimated time-frame for the return of escrow funds, and, 3) Change the fee schedule to reference fees that are non-refundable as “Base” fees.
The Planner stated that Planner Johnson added language to the application that indicates escrow funds will be monitored on a bi-monthly basis by City staff and that the application now states that “The City Engineer and City Planner will close out the project and the City Council will approve your refund at the next available City Council meeting. After City Council approval, it will take approximately 30 days to receive the refund check from the City.” She further advised that the application was also changed to include the term “Base” to all fee language for non-refundable fees.
Staff recommends approval of the Ordinance as presented with the above-listed changes and language additions to the application.
Mayor O’Leary stated that he had sent several questions to Planner Howe in advance of this meeting because he was unable to discuss them with Planner Johnson prior to her vacation. He explained that he was unable to review the decision to place the Major Site Plan Review fee at $10,750 instead of $12,500 as originally discussed. He also questioned why the escrow fee for Administrative Permits was increased from $200 to $5,000, as he was unable to determine all types of applications that would be classified as “administrative permits”. He recalled that chicken keeping and bee keeping would be considered as such, however, the new ordinance only requires staff review of this type of permit rather than Planning Commission and Council review. He stated his opinion that $5,000 would be too high an escrow for the Administrative Permit applications. He asked staff what other categories may require Administrative Permits.
Attorney Kuntz indicated that Water Permits could be classified under Administrative Permits and could be more expensive as they may require more staff time.
Planner Howe stated that when she searched the City Code and typed in “Administrative Permits”, there were nine (9) returns, however, she was unsure how much time was required for reviewing each type of permit.
Mayor O’Leary asked Planning Commission Chair Tom Hendrickson if the Commission had discussed Administrative Permits or the fee for that type of permit. He also questioned if Chair Hendrickson agreed that $5,000 may be high for the escrow fee.
Planning Chair Hendrickson responded that the Commission did not discuss Administrative Permits at the meeting. He stated that most of the Commission discussion related to the timeline for escrow notification to applicants that additional funds may be necessary and the time frame for returning escrow funds. He stated that the Administrative Permits the Commission had reviewed in the past did not appear to be complicated and that $5,000 may be high for an escrow fee.
In discussion, Councilmembers expressed concern that the cost to place a chicken coop would be less than the $5,000 fee and that residents may not contact the city for a permit if the fee is too high.
Mayor O’Leary asked the City Attorney if the Planner would have the authority to reduce the escrow amount or if staff would have to get permission from Council.
Attorney Kuntz stated that Council would have to grant permission.
Mayor O’Leary asked the Forester how much time he would need to review a property that requests an Administrative Permit to keep chickens or bees.
Forester Nayes stated that it would not be longer than 2-hours and noted that the permits may be renewed annually with no additional fee.
Mayor O’Leary suggested the Base fee be set at $100 and the escrow fee be set at $150 for Administrative Permits.
Clerk Iago pointed out that the Planner’s time, as well as the Forester’s time, would also be used to review the application and that the $250 could be used up very quickly.
Mayor O’Leary suggested the Base fee be set at $200 and the escrow fee also be $200, for a total of $400, since there is no fee to renew the permit once it is issued.
There was discussion regarding the use of staff time to review and issue the permits and the costs associated with site visits, inspections, and the compiling and mailing of notifications to adjacent properties.
Mayor O’Leary advised that he found information from the League of Minnesota Cities that states that fees charged by cities should be commensurate with staff time spent to review permits and licenses and should not exceed those costs.
Councilmember Bulach stated he would rather set the fees somewhat higher and return funds to applicants than to have staff request additional escrow funds. Mayor O’Leary agreed.
Mayor O’Leary moved to adopt the Zoning Code Amendment to Section 1201.10, Schedules of Administrative Fees, Charges and Expenses with the following amendment: That the escrow amount for the Administrative Permits escrow be changed from $5,000 to $200, with a proposed base fee of $200 for a total of $400.00.
In discussion, Engineer Sandberg questioned why the Major Site Plan Review amount was listed at $10,000 and stated he was unsure if the Planning Commission discussed reducing that amount.
Mayor O’Leary explained that he was unsure if the Planner reduced the amount to concur with what the City of Edina charges. He stated he would not be opposed to the fee being set at $12,500.
Councilmember Bulach questioned if there was a breakdown of the costs associated with the $12,500 fee or if that was only for the Engineer’s fee.
Mayor O’Leary explained that the fees collected include the Planner, Engineer and Forester’s time to review the major site plan information and prepare their reports for the Commission and Council to review and also for any inspections of the site. He stated that the Planner reviewed previous billing statements from WSB that included costs for both the Planner and the Engineer’s time to determine an appropriate amount for escrow funds that had been used in the past for a Major Site Plan Review application.
Councilmember Bulach questioned how the applicant knows where the funds are going and if the City is keeping them informed as the project progresses.
Planning Chair Hendrickson commented that the $12,500 fee required by the City of Edina would be comparable to construction that occurs in Sunfish Lake. He pointed out that the Planning Commission recommended staff notify an applicant when the escrow funds are close to being depleted and he agreed that it would be best to have the escrow amount set slightly higher rather than have to request additional funds at a later date.
There was discussion relating to charges for building permits. Engineer Sandberg explained that Building Permit fees are separate from the Planning application and escrow fees.
Engneer Sandberg confirmed that the City of Edina charges $10,000 or $12,500 when demolition of a building is included. He pointed out that each project is different and it is his opinion that the costs could be reduced dependent on the contractor that is hired for the building project.
Mayor O’Leary asked if Council agreed to the $12,500 fee for the Major Site Plan Review.
Mayor O’Leary withdrew his original motion.
Mayor O’Leary moved to adopt Ordinance No. 2022-02 titled, AN ORDINANCE Amending Section 1201.10 of the sunfish lake zoning code relating to fees and charges for permits, land use approvals, site plan approvals, burning permits and septic system permits, with the following amendments:
1. That the escrow amount for the Administrative Permits escrow be changed from $5,000 to $200, which along with the proposed base fee of $200, would amount to a total of $400.
2. That the escrow amount for the Major Site Plan Review be changed from the proposed $10,000 to $12,500, which along with the proposed base fee of $750 would amount to a total of $13,250.
3. That the Site Inspections at $75 for a single inspection includes a footnote that indicates there may be additional inspections necessary, however, since it is unknown know how many may be needed, the $150 total amount should be removed and the “Total” amount should be left blank.
Seconded by Councilmember Hovey and carried. (5-0)
d. Planner’s Report: Planner Howe reviewed the following information listed in the Planner’s report dated April 5, 2022:
1. 369 Salem Church Road: Planner Johnson continues to work with the landscape contractor for this project to tie up loose ends with respect to site lighting, the fountain, and the driveway.
2. 300 Salem Church Road: No updates on this unpaid escrow at this time.
3. New Land Use Application: An application for a Major Site Plan Review and SUP for 15 Sunnyside Lane was submitted. The applicant is proposing to construct a new home with a pool and a walkway to the lake. The application was incomplete, as more information is required prior to its review by the Planning Commission; it may be heard at the May Planning meeting.
4. Zoning Ordinance Update: Planner Johnson will continue to work with the Mayor over the next few months to review the zoning ordinance and prepare updates. This is a time-consuming effort but will hopefully provide the City with a better framework for moving forward with land use applications.
5. Additional Escrow Requests: The Planner reached out to applicants and property owners for 2 Acorn Drive, 2150 Charlton Road, and 2 Sunfish Lane to request submission of additional escrow funds. Staff is hopeful that additional escrow requests will be reduced with adoption of the new fee/escrow schedule being considered at the April 5 meeting.
Planner Johnson is on vacation from March 31 through April 8 and will return to the office on April 11. Questions may be addressed to Kim Lindquist at WSB during her absence.
Council thanked Planner Howe for the report.
7. ENGINEER’S REPORT: 1. Engineering Activities Undertaken in March: A. Meetings Attended: Staff attended a meeting for the Dakota County Regional Roadway System Visioning Study.
B. Dakota County Regional Roadway System Visioning Study – Open House: An Open House will be held from 5-7p.m. on May 16 at the Veteran’s Memorial Community Center in Inver Grove Heights. The pubic is encouraged to attend to hear the study recommendations and provide input.
C. 2022 Street Maintenance Projects: In lieu of formal bidding, staff will request quotes for the maintenance work. The estimated cost for the projects is below the threshold for requiring a public bidding and staff believes the City will realize project cost savings by securing quotes from 3-4 contractors. Staff will also reach out to surrounding cities that are undertaking similar projects and approach their contractors to receive quotes for the SFL projects. Staff will present the quotes at the May Council meeting for Council consideration.
2. Building and Site review in the Month of March: A. Staff conducted reviews for the following properties in March:
- 15 Sunnyside Lane: Staff reviewed two submittals for this property; one contained information related to new home construction and the other submittal related to a concept plan showing stairs, a deck and retaining walls within the bluff area of the critical shoreland protection zone. Staff is working with the applicant on a plan that would allow safe access to the lake and meet City standards for improvements within these sensitive areas.
3. Public Works Activities Undertaken in the Month of March: A. Road Weight Restrictions are ON: The City Forester placed the road weight restrictions signs on City roads on March 16. The City of Sunfish Lake follows MnDOT direction for posting and removal of weight restriction signage. The weight restrictions will likely remain in place through most of April.
B. Staff coordinated work with the City’s snowplow contactor for snow clearing events in March.
Council thanked the Engineer for his report.
8. NEW/OTHER BUSINESS: a. Consider Resolution Supporting Housing and Local Decision-Making Authority: Mayor O’Leary explained that the state legislators proposed multiple bills restricting local housing decision making authority and over 800 cities in Minnesota have drafted resolutions to be sent to legislators in opposition to these bills. He stated that the bill proposed would make “one size fits all” zoning requirements and the League of Minnesota Cities has asked all cities to send a resolution supporting housing and local decision-making authority remain with individual cities. He noted that 88 cities have already passed resolutions relating to their individual concerns.
The Mayor thanked Attorney Kuntz for reviewing and modifying the resolution to reflect Sunfish Lake’s concerns. He recommended that Councilmembers send emails to the local legislative representatives to express their concern over the bill moving forward.
Mayor O’Leary moved to adopt Resolution No. 22-10 titled, a resolution supporting housing and local DECISION-MAKING authority, and direct the City Clerk to forward copies to the Sunfish Lake State Senator and Representative and the League of Minnesota Cities, seconded by Councilmember Hansen and carried. (5-0)
Councilmember Beckett asked if it would be helpful to make calls to legislators to discuss this matter.
Mayor O’Leary responded yes and encouraged Council to call the Sunfish Lake representatives as well as Senator Rich Draheim of Madison Lake who authored the bill.
b. Other: Mayor O’Leary asked if there was any further business and there was no response.
9. ADJOURN: Mayor O’Leary adjourned the meeting at 8:48 p.m.
Catherine Iago, City Clerk Dan O’Leary, Mayor