- DRAFT –
SUNFISH LAKE CITY COUNCIL MEETING – FEBRUARY 8, 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: Lori Johnson
City Engineer: Jeff Sandberg
City Treasurer: Ann Lanoue
City Forester: Jim Nayes
Police Chief: Brian Sturgeon
City Clerk: Cathy Iago
and Members of the General Public.
Building Inspector: Mike Andrejka was absent.
1. CALL TO ORDER/OATH OF OFFICE: Mayor O’Leary called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
The Mayor welcomed newly appointed Councilmember Ginny Beckett and stated that Council appreciated her willingness to fill the unexpired term of Councilmember Wahlstrom. He administered the Oath of Office to Councilmember Beckett.
Councilmember Beckett thanked Council for the appointment and stated that she was happy to join such a lovely group of people that serve on the Council.
2. APPROVE AGENDA: Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any additions or corrections to the agenda.
Treasurer Lanoue explained that she forwarded an amended copy of the List of Bills that included a reimbursement for Clerk Iago for office supplies and a check for Petty Cash. She asked that the amended List of Bills be added to the agenda.
Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any further items and there was no response.
Councilmember Bulach moved to adopt the agenda as amended, 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.
Treasurer Lanoue noted that the expenditures were over budget due to the final payment for the improvement projects and the return of escrow. She stated that net revenues would remain unfavorable until July when the City receives its first half payment of property taxes from Dakota County.
Mayor O’Leary asked the City Attorney if formal action was required for the return of escrow funds in the amount of $47,049.00 to resident Amanda Henke. He noted that the escrow funds related to the planning application for construction of a new home.
Attorney Kuntz explained that no formal action would be necessary as the Clerk would memorialize that the funds were returned to Ms. Henke in the minutes.
Mayor O’Leary asked Chief Sturgeon if he could provide an explanation as to why the false alarms recorded had doubled in the past few months.
Chief Sturgeon indicated that the higher number may relate to construction workers, home cleaners, neighbors or family that had used the wrong alarm code when entering a home or had neglected to disarm the alarm.
The Mayor asked Clerk Iago to include an article in the next City newsletter that requests residents to be more cognizant of the alarm system when entering or leaving a residence. He noted that he had received a list of addresses with dates of the false alarms for those locations.
Chief Sturgeon explained that West St. Paul has software that tracks the number of actual false alarms that are “billable” and automatically issues a statement for that property. He noted that Sunfish Lake staff issues the billing statements when necessary.
Clerk Iago explained that staff waits until the end of the year before issuing a bill to residents for false alarms and, therefore, it may be expensive. She agreed to include an article that explains the costs for false alarms to residents and that asks them to be more diligent when using their systems.
Mayor O’Leary explained that the West St. Paul Police “No Knock Warrant” policy was sent to Council by Chief Sturgeon. He reviewed section 606.5 and 606.7 and noted that there does not appear to be language that expressly states that all warrants would be approved by the Polie Chief. He questioned if such language should be included in the policy or if there was a section that was not sent that includes this language.
Chief Sturgeon explained that the position of “operational director” that oversees the warrants is currently vacant and that he had been mentoring individuals to take over those duties. He stated that as the Police Chief, the duty of reviewing and approving the requests falls to him. He further advised that there is an organization of attorneys known as Lexipool that oversees the most current policies, and then prepares and updates the information based on Federal and State laws.
The Police Chief explained how the policy for issuing the “No Knock” warrant works and described the chain of command that must be followed starting with the officer request, supervisor review, Chief review and approval and then District Court Judge review prior to issuance of the warrant.
Chief Sturgeon stated that it is a large document and changes often. He noted that he would review the information sent to Council to ensure it is correct and that he would keep Council updated on this matter.
Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any questions or comments and there was no response.
Councilmember Hovey moved approval of the Consent Agenda as amended to include the revised List of Bills, seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (5-0)
a. Special and Regular Council Meeting Minutes of January 4, 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. PRESENTATIONS: a. Dakota County Regional Visioning Plan, Luke Moren, Dakota County Engineer: Engineer Sandberg explained that Luke Moren, consultant for Dakota County, was unable to attend the meeting this evening. He introduced Assistant Dakota County Engineer Erin Laberee and JoNette Kuhnau, Consultant with Kimley Horn who would be presenting information on the Dakota County Regional Roadway System Plan Update.
JoNette Kuhnau explained that the original traffic study was done in 2010 and that it included the cities of Eagan, Mendota Heights, Inver Grove Heights and Sunfish Lake. She noted the study area was bounded by T.H. 62, T.H. 52,
I-35E/Lexington Avenue and County Road 30 (Diffley Road). She explained that there had been changes in development and transportation improvements in the study area since 2010 and that the 2040 Comprehensive Plan update identifies less intense development in the area. She further advised that there were discussions regarding placement of a future interchange at Argenta and I-494. She pointed out that the study forecasts less retail employment and more households and non-retail employment in the area.
Ms. Kuhnau noted that the plan would include supporting future growth projections, meeting the needs of the cities, Dakota County and MnDOT and determining where funding would be used in the future. She referred to the project schedule as shown in the handout and explained that a public meeting was held in the fall of 2021 to receive input prior to traffic modeling and analysis. She noted the next step in the process was modeling and drafting alternatives prior to making another presentation to Councils from the various cities and conducting another public meeting. She indicated that during the next few weeks the group would be working to develop alternatives and prepare a recommendation. She commented that an open house could be scheduled in early April to receive input from the public and the various communities.
Mayor O’Leary noted that the speed limit along Robert Street at Highway 62 was recently changed from 45 mph to 50 mph. He offered his opinion that drivers had increased their speed with the onset of COVID and less vehicles on the roadways. He noted that it is difficult and dangerous to access Robert Street from Salem Church Road and questioned if Dakota County had considered installing a traffic signal at that location.
Erin Laberee explained that type of review would be outside the scope of this project and that the County has a point system a roadway must meet to qualify for signalization. She further advised that MnDOT would be responsible for setting the speed limit on Robert Street since it is a State highway.
Councilmember Hovey questioned if the projected 200 new homes by 2040 is a realistic figure.
Ms. Kuhnau referred to the slide in the presentation which showed 210 new households being constructed in Eagan by 2040 and further explained that this information was taken from Eagan’s Comprehensive Plan. She noted that Dakota County had confirmed this number with Eagan. She further explained that cities go through a rigorous process of land development and also must meet Metropolitan Council guidelines when preparing their comprehensive plan updates to ensure the information is correct.
Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any further questions or comments and there was no response. He thanked Ms. Laberee and Ms. Kuhnau for their presentation.
6. PLANNING COMMISSION/PLANNER’S REPORT: a. Consider Major Site & Building Plan and Conditional Use Permit, 2150 Charlton Road, Ryan Slipka, Southview Design, Erik & Cathy Weiss: Planner Johnson referred to her report dated February 8, 2022 and explained that Ryan Slipka of Southview Design submitted an application for a Major Site Plan Review and Conditional Use Permit for property located at 2150 Charlton Road that is owned by Erik and Cathy Weiss. She stated that the property is zoned R-1 Single Family Residential and is located in the Shoreland Overlay District. She explained that the application was for installation of a walkway to the lake and a seating area at the top of the steep slope. She advised that the walkway would consist of monolithic stair units separated by compacted gravel areas with large stones set into the slope to control erosion on the slope. She explained that no significant trees would be removed from the area and that fescue grass would be planted to re-establish the area surrounding the walkway. She stated that a round stone patio seating area would also be installed on the flat part of the rear yard adjacent to the area where the steep slope starts down to the lake.
The Planner advised that she and the Engineer and Forester met with the applicant on site to determine the best location for installation of the walkway that provides the least amount of disturbance on the property. She explained that the patio is less than 18-inches in height and would not be visible due to tree coverage in the area. She noted that the 230 ft. dock proposed by the applicant was larger than that allowed in the Shoreland Overlay District, therefore, staff recommended a condition be added to the findings of fact that the dock be reduced to 200 sq. ft. in size. She noted that there were parts of the dock that were greater than 4 ft. in width, so a condition was also added that no portion of the dock be greater than 4 ft. in width.
Mayor O’Leary asked if the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) had approved the dock installation. He noted that he was unaware that the DNR reviewed dock installations until he was advised by another resident that the DNR specifications for docks was different than the Sunfish Lake City Code specifications.
Planner Johnson stated she was unaware that the DNR regulations may be different and stated she would recommend an additional condition be included in the proposed resolution that requires review and approval of the dock installation by the DNR.
Mayor O’Leary asked if there would be handrails installed along the walkway to the lake since it is a steep slope.
Planner Johnson stated that the applicant had not proposed installing handrails on the path. She stated that the stone are flat and a handrail may not be necessary. She commented that the applicant was present and could respond to the question.
The Planner stated that the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the matter and that an email was received from a resident in support of the project. She advised that the Planning Commission recommended approval of the request subject to the findings of fact and conditions as listed in the proposed resolution.
Planner Johnson explained that she was approached by Mr. Latham of Southview Design after the Commission meeting and he submitted a revised Landscape Plan for plantings on the site. She noted that the revised planting plan would not change the walkway, patio area or dock installation. She advised Mr. Latham that he would have to submit a new application for the revised planting plan and that it would require review by the Planning Commission and Council.
Planner Johnson stated that the Major Site Plan Review and Conditional Use Permit meet all applicable ordinance standards and that staff recommended approval of the requests subject to the Findings of Fact and conditions as listed in the resolution with an additional condition that states: “Any alteration to the Landscape Plan requires submission of an application to amend the original plan and must be reviewed by the Planning Commission and approved by Council.”
Mayor O’Leary asked the applicant why no handrails are proposed for installation along the steep slope.
Mr. Latham explained that the monolithic stair units are very flat and have a non-slippery finished surface and should be safe. He noted that there is a small area closer to the dock where the handrail may be useful, but it was his opinion that the rails would not be necessary.
Mayor O’Leary asked the Planner if there were any regulations regarding handrails for safety when there are steep slopes.
Planner Johnsons stated she had not seen any regulations relating to handrails in the Zoning Code.
Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any questions or comments.
Attorney Kuntz asked if the applicant needs a building permit for this project.
Planner Johnson responded no, but pointed out that nothing could be installed until the area is staked out for staff review and until approval for the dock was obtained from the DNR.
Attorney Kuntz suggested that a condition be included that requires the Building Inspector to review the walkway to determine if handrails are required for safety purposes under the Building Code. He asked if there would be another public hearing at the Planning Commission meeting if a new application for the amended Landscape Plan is submitted and the Planner responded yes.
The Mayor suggested that a condition be included that requires the applicant to submit the proposed dock installation to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for approval prior to installation and to require the Building Inspector to review the walkway installation to determine if handrails are needed for safety purposes under the State Building Code. He asked if there were any further comments or questions and there was no response.
Mayor O’Leary moved, seconded by Councilmember Beckett, to adopt Resolution No. 22-05 titled, resolution approving a major site plan review and a conditional use permit to construct a walkway to the lake and a small seating area in the rear yard of the property at 2150 Charlton road, sunfish lake, Dakota county, Minnesota, subject to the Findings of Fact and conditions as listed, with the following additional conditions:
1. The applicant must submit the proposed dock dimensions and installation to the Minnesota Department of Natural
Resources (DNR) for approval prior to its installation;
2. The Building Inspector must review the walkway installation to determine if handrails are needed for safety
purposes under the State Building Code prior to its installation; and,
3. Any alteration to the Landscape Plan requires submission of an application to amend the original plan and must be
reviewed by Planning Commission and approved by Council.
Motion carried. (5-0)
b. Planner’s Report: Planner Johnson referred to her report dated February 2, 2022 and stated that at the January 20 Planning Commission meeting the application for 2150 Charlton Road was reviewed. She explained that the Commission advised that they wished to begin conducting onsite visits prior to their meetings. She noted that this had been done in the past, however, it was halted due to the pandemic. She stated she would begin scheduling on-site meetings for future land use applications. She advised that the Commission also asked when in-person meetings would begin again.
The Planner noted that Commissioner Nelson expressed concern relating to the manner in which the Planning Commission discussions are presented to Council. She explained that there apparently had been an issue with one project and Commissioner Nelson did not feel that the Commission’s views were accurately represented. The Planner stated that she assured the Commissioners that she would provide an accurate analysis of the discussions in her report to the Council.
Mayor O’Leary explained that he had discussed the fact that the Planning Commission is a recommending body to Council and that there had been occasions when the Council made different decisions on planning matters. He commented that there may be occasions when Council does not agree with the Commission recommendations, however, this would not be because the Council does not listen to their recommendations, but merely had a difference of opinion.
Mayor O’Leary asked if the neighbors are notified when there is a site visit and stated it was his opinion it would be best to have the neighbors view the site and pose questions at that time.
Councilmember Beckett responded that adjacent neighbors were invited to attend the site visits.
Attorney Kuntz asked if the site visit information should be posted on the City website since it is a public meeting.
Clerk Iago agreed and advised that the Planning Commission Agenda would also list the time and location of the site visit prior to the official meeting.
Planner Johnson reviewed the December Planning Updates listed in her report as follows:
1. 369 Salem Church Road: The property owner’s landscape contractor provided a signed copy of the approved plan for the fence/gate that was approved by Council last year. Within the next week the homeowner will be provided with final signed sets of plans pertaining to lighting, landscaping and the fountain proposed on the property. This is a formality to ensure that the contractor is working with the correct set of plans for the project.
2. 300 Salem Church Road: The Engineer and Planner have had communication with the homeowners regarding their outstanding escrows. There is no final resolution at this time.
3. 2 Acorn Drive: The property owners made application for a Major Site and Building Plan review to construct a new home on this property. They have been working on surveys and wetland delineations over the past few months. Staff will be meeting with the property owners and their contractors this week to discuss what information is needed to move forward with the application. There is no date for review by the Planning Commission at this time.
4. 2 Sunfish Lane: The property owner submitted a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application to install an accessory structure in the front yard of the property. The proposal is to construct a sport court in the front yard and a play structure in the side yard of the property and to add a fence next to his existing accessory structure. Staff will visit the site with the applicant this week and this is tentatively scheduled for review at the March 17, 2022 Planning Commission meeting.
5. Escrows: Staff is working with Mayor O’Leary to develop escrow return and request processes. An updated Land Use application was drafted that clearly explains the applicant’s responsibility to pay for fees associated with their applications. The new application will also define submittal reorients and procedures. This information will be shared with Council when the final application is completed.
6. Zoning Ordinance Updates: The Planner stated that she had attached a document to her report for Council which proposed a timeline for her to perform the zoning ordinance updates. She explained that she had further discussions with the Mayor and staff regarding the update process and they determined a more feasible and economical plan for review and updating the zoning ordinance.
Mayor O’Leary explained that the Planner had previous experience with this type of review when employed by the City of Blaine and that he sought input from staff to attempt to devise a plan that would streamline the process.
Planner Johnson displayed the email the Mayor had sent to Council and staff outlining the initial review process and procedures. She explained that the Mayor requested input from Council and staff regarding the initial review process and that everyone supported the plan.
Mayor O’Leary explained that the revised process for the project would allow the initial work to be done by the Planner with assistance from him and the City Attorney. Once the initial work is done, the document would be reviewed at a public hearing at a Planning Commission meeting to receive public comments prior to its adoption. He noted that the proposal could be adjusted and additional steps may be added if necessary.
The mayor asked if there were any questions and there was no response.
Council thanked the Planner for her report.
7. ENGINEER’S REPORT: 1. Engineering Activities Undertaken in January: A. Meetings Attended: Staff attended a meeting for the Dakota County Regional Roadway System Visioning Study. The representatives from Dakota County gave a presentation on the study earlier this evening. Staff also attended the January Planning Commission meeting that reviewed the proposed application for the property at 2150 Charlton Road and the Technical Advisory Committee meeting of the Lower Mississippi River Watershed Management Organization (LMRWMO) where they discussed the Water Plan update efforts.
B. 2022 City Parcel Map: Staff updated the city parcel map based on the most current January 2022 GIS information on file with Dakota County.
C. Final Payment for 2021 CIP Roadway Improvement Projects: Staff submitted the final payment request to be made to the contractor for the 2021 CIP Roadway Improvement Projects and recommends approval of the payment. The contractor satisfactorily completed all work, submitted all required documentation, and agreed to the final amount of $25,925.37 for payment in the Final Pay Request.
Mayor O’Leary asked if formal action is required by Council and the City Attorney responded yes.
Mayor O’Leary moved to approve the final payment to Bituminous Roadways, Inc. in the amount of $25,925.37 as final payment for the 2021 CIP Roadway Improvement Projects, seconded by Councilmember Hovey and carried. (5-0)
D. Authorization to Prepare Feasibility Report for 0222 Street Maintenance Projects: Staff is requesting Council authorization to prepare a feasibility report for the 2022 Street Maintenance Projects.
Engineer Sandberg explained that the study would identify roads that require maintenance and the type of maintenance work to be done, and the estimated project costs. He stated that $145,000 was budgeted for the 2022 Street Maintenance Projects and that four (4) roads had been identified for sealcoating. He noted that there would be no assessments for these projects, however, the feasibility study would identify the roads that are most in need of improvement. He advised that formal action by Council is required.
Mayor O’Leary asked if soil borings are done in conjunction with this project.
Engineer Sandberg responded no and explained that borings are not taken with less invasive projects of this nature. He noted that the roads are usually in fairly decent shape and that the sealcoating extends the life of the road.
Mayor O’Leary asked if soil borings would be done if the Engineer finds that they are needed.
Engineer Sandberg stated that he would address any issues found with any roadway surface from the feasibility report.
Mayor O’Leary moved to authorize the City Engineer to prepare a feasibility report for the proposed 2022 Street Maintenance Projects, seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (5-0)
E. Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) Annual Reporting: The Engineer explained that the City is required to submit an annual report that outlines activities form the past year which fall under the WCA. He noted there were two (2) reported activities in 2021 that staff assisted applicants with and that are identified in the annual report that was submitted on behalf of the City.
2. Building and Site review in the Month of January: A. Staff conducted reviews for the following properties in the month of January:
- 2150 Charlton Road – Staff reviewed a revised plan for a walkway to the lake.
- 300 Salem Church Road – Staff provided a response and clarification to the resident on the Planning and Engineering
reviews for improvements at this property to resolve outstanding escrow fees.
3. Public Works Activities Undertaken in the Month of February: A. Staff coordinated with the City’s snowplow contractor for several snow clearing events in January.
Council thanked the Engineer for his report.
8. NEW/OTHER BUSINESS: a. Consider Resolution Approving Addendum No.15 to Employment Agreement between the City and Catherine Iago for City Clerk Services and Addendum No.13 to Independent Contractor Agreement between the City and Iago Consulting, LLC for Administrative Services; Addendum No.9 to Employment Agreement Between the City and Ann Lanoue for City Treasurer Services; and Addendum No.13 to Independent Contractor Agreement between the City and Living Sculpture Tree and Shrub Care, Inc. for City Forester Services: Council was referred to the City Attorney’s memorandum dated January 31, 2022 relating to the four (4) 2022 Agreements for the positions of City Clerk, City Administrator, City Treasurer and City Forester.
Attorney Kuntz stated that Council reviewed these agreements at their January meeting and directed that the contracts be amended to reflect a 3% salary increase for the positions identified. He stated that the proposed resolution included with his memorandum includes the 3% salary adjustment for these positions effective January 1, 2022 and sets the compensation for the year 2022.
Councilmember Hansen questions why two of the addendums are listed with the number 13.
Attorney Kuntz explained that the number refers to the year and that both the City Administrator services and Forester Services contacts were both initiated in 2013.
Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any questions and there was no response.
Mayor O’Leary moved to adopt Resolution No. 22-06 titled, resolution Approving Addendum No.15 to Employment Agreement between the City and Catherine Iago for City Clerk Services and Addendum No.13 to Independent Contractor Agreement between the City and Iago Consulting, LLC for Administrative Services; Addendum No.9 to Employment Agreement Between the City and Ann Lanoue for City Treasurer Services; and Addendum No.13 to Independent Contractor Agreement between the City and Living Sculpture Tree and Shrub Care, Inc. for City Forester Services, seconded by Councilmember Hovey and carried. (5-0)
b. Consider Proposed Ordinance Prohibiting Residential Picketing within the City: Mayor O’Leary explained that a question as to whether or not the City currently has an ordinance prohibiting residential picketing was raised at the January meeting by Councilmember Bulach.
Councilmember Bulach stated that he was approached by his neighbor who owns a business in St. Paul. He explained that his neighbor suggested that picketers may target his home in Sunfish Lake and asked if the City prohibits residential picketing. He advised that Council discussed the matter and concurred to have staff research if other communities had such an ordinance and, if so, to prepare an ordinance.
Mayor O’Leary referred Council to the City Attorney’s memorandum dated January 31, 2022 and asked the Attorney to review the proposed ordinance.
Attorney Kuntz explained that staff had researched ordinances from several other cities that were similar in their intent and language. He stated that the ordinances and an analysis of the deviations were sent to the Police Chief and the Mayor for their review. He noted that the ordinances in the cities of Farmington, Rosemount and Lakeville were substantially the same and everyone concluded that these were most suited for adoption in Sunfish Lake.
The Attorney explained that adoption of the ordinance requires a majority vote by Council and, if passed this evening, it would become effective after publication.
Police Chief Surgeon commented that having the ordinance in place would be an effective tool to deter residential picketers. He noted that several cities have seen protestors at homes of judges, police officers and others. He further advised that he discussed the ordinance with prosecutors and they had no issues with enforcing the ordinance; they agreed that the City Attorney had done an excellent job researching the matter. He noted that the language in the ordinance had been upheld by the court of appeals and that his police officers can be easily trained on how to enforce the ordinance.
Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any questions and there was no response.
Councilmember Bulach moved to adopt Ordinance No. 2022-01 titled, an ordinance amending the sunfish lake city code by adding article VI, chapter 611 relating to the prohibition of targeted residential picketing, seconded by Mayor O’Leary and carried.
Attorney Kuntz agreed that the proposed ordinance language had been upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court and by the US Supreme Court.
c. Consider Appointment of Joel Arney as Citizen Representative to NDC4 Cable Commission: Mayor O’Leary stated that he received a response for a resident volunteer to serve as the city representative to the Northern Dakota County Cable Commission (NDC4). He introduced Dr. Joel Arney, a retired anesthesiologist and reviewed Dr Arney’s work history. He thanked Dr. Arney for volunteering to serve on the commission.
Dr. Arney thanked the mayor and stated that he was interested in becoming active in the community since his retirement. He thanked Council for this opportunity.
Mayor O’Leary moved to appoint Dr. Joel Arney as the citizen representative to the NDC4 Cable Commission, seconded by Councilmember Hansen and carried. (5-0)
d. Other: Mayor O’Leary stated that he would be on vacation staring February 18 through March 3, 2022. He asked if Councilmember Hovey would be available to serve as acting mayor during that time.
Councilmember Hovey responded that he would be available.
Mayor O’Leary asked if there was any further business and there was no response.
9. ADJOURN: Mayor O’Leary adjourned the meeting at 8:27 p.m.
Catherine Iago, City Clerk Dan O’Leary, Mayor