SUNFISH LAKE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – JULY 15, 2021 7:00 P.M. – ONLINE MEETING

 

Attendants:

Acting Chair:   Dominick Driano

Commissioners:  Ginny Beckett, Shannon Nelson, and Jeannine Nayes

City Planner:  Tom Ramler-Olson

City Clerk:  Cathy Iago

Chair Tom Hendrickson was absent.

 

1. CALL TO ORDER: Acting Chair Driano called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

2. ADOPT AGENDA: Acting Chair Driano asked if there were any additions to the agenda and there was no response.

Commissioner Nayes moved to adopt the agenda, seconded by Commissioner Nelson and carried (4-0)

3. APPROVE MINUTES MAY 20, 2021:   Acting Chair Driano asked if there were any additions or corrections to the May 20, 2021 minutes and there was no response.

Commissioner Nayes moved to approve the May 20, 2021 Planning Commission meeting minutes as presented, seconded by Acting Chair Driano and carried. (4-0)

4. PUBLIC HEARING: Major Site & Building Plan Review and Conditional Use Permit, 2154 Charlton Road, Allen and Judy Werthauser. Acting Chair Driano opened the meeting for the purpose of conducting a public hearing on the application From Allen and Judy Werthauser for a Major Site and Building Plan Review and Condition Use Permit (CUP) to construct a detached garage on the property at 2154 Charlton Road. He asked Planner Ramler-Olson to review his report.

Planner Ramler-Olson referred to his report dated July 7, 2021 and explained the request was to construct a freestanding, detached 3-stall garage to be located north of the principal structure on the property. He stated that the property is zoned R-1, Single-Family Residential and is located within the Shoreland Overlay District. He advised that the proposed garage would be used to store lawn and garden equipment, tractor, vehicles and other miscellaneous items and eliminate yard storage that would be unsightly for neighboring properties.

The Planner stated that security gates are allowed by CUP under Section 1218 of the City Zoning Ordinance and require review by the Planning Commission and approval by Council. He displayed a drawing of the location of the gate and stated it would be 18 ft. in width and attached to two (2) 6-ft tall stone columns on either side. He advised that the gate would meet the 25 ft. side yard setback and also the 100 ft. setback from Salem Church Road.

The Planner stated that the applicant proposed to install landscaping at the northeast corner of the detached garage for screening purposes. He explained that an access driveway would be installed off the main circular driveway on the property. He noted that the structure meets all setback requirements and that it would be located on the opposite side of the property from the lake; therefore, it exceeds the Shoreland Overlay District setback requirements from the lake.

Planner Ramler-Olson stated that the current zoning regulations allow for one (1) accessory structure on the property and the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) is required to allow another accessory structure on the property. He explained that there is currently a swimming pool and pool house located on the property, which is considered an accessory structure, therefore a CUP is required for the proposed detached garage. He stated that the application meets all Zoning Code requirements, with the exception of the number of accessory structures allowed.

The Planner explained that the landscape plan submitted identifies eleven (11) trees that would be removed to accommodate the structure and that five (5) replacement trees that would be installed on the northeast corner of the structure. Staff recommends that the replacement trees be relocated and installed at the southeast corner of the site to provide better screening between the proposed structure and the property to the east. Staff further suggested that the applicant could relocate the five (5) trees to the southeast corner or could install the trees in the northeast corner and add additional trees at the southeast corner of the structure.

Planner Ramler-Olson stated that the application meets all criteria outlined in the Zoning Code for a Major Site and Building Plan review, the Conditional Use Permit, and the R-1, Single Family District and Shoreland Overly District regulations.

Staff recommends approval of the requests with the based on the Findings of Fact and subject to the conditions as listed in the Planner’s report dated July 7, 2021 and noted that that the proposed vegetation installed at the southeast corner to provide better screening for adjacent properties. The Planner offered to respond to questions.

Acting Chair Driano asked if there were any questions from the Commissioners and there was no response. He asked if the applicant had any questions or comments. 

Al and Judy Werthauser, 2154 Charlton Road, were present and thanked staff for the review of their request. Mr. Werthauser explained that there are existing pine trees located on the southeast side of the property that were planted by the previous property owner and that they provide screening of that area. He further noted that there are beautiful gardens in the southeast area that would be disturbed by planting five (5) additional trees in that area.

Acting Chair Driano asked if the applicant had discussed the plantings with the City Forester and if the Forester had recommended planting the five (5) trees on the northeast side and planting some additional trees on the southeast side for screening.

Mr. Werthauser explained that there are some pine trees on the southeast side of the proposed structure and that there are also gardens in that area. He commented that he could shift some of the trees from the northeast side to the southeast side.

Acting Chair Driano asked the Forester if he had any suggestions.

Forester Nayes explained that the trees to be removed were in the last stages of decline or already dead. He explained that he recommended replacing one tree for every two removed to provide screening. He commented that if I makes more sense to place the trees in the southeast corner of the garage he would defer to the Commission determine if it makes more sense to move the plantings to the southeast portion of the site.

Acting Chair Driano asked for comments from the Commissioners.

Commissioner Nelson asked the Planner to move the diagram on the screen so she could see the location of the trees.

Commissioner Beckett asked if the trees that have an “X” shown on the diagram are the trees to be removed because of the structure and also if the trees that are not shown as being removed are you suggesting they are in the same condition as those to be removed.

Forester Nayes responded that the trees with an “X” are slated for removal and the trees that remain are in better condition than those to be removed.

Commissioner Nayes asked Mr. Werthauser if he had discussed the screening issues with the neighbors and asked their preference for which side he put the trees on.

Mr. Werthauser stated he talked to the neighbor on the southeast and was told that they liked the gardens in that area and would like to see them preserved. He further explained that the neighbor had not expressed any concerns about screening and he told them he would do his best to screen the structure.

Acting Chair Driano opened the public hearing for comments from the public.

Kevin Wu, 270 Salem Church Road, pointed out that the driveway from the property at 2152 Charlton Road would be impacted by the new structure and, in his opinion, it would make sense to keep the proposed tree line in that area.

Acting Chair Driano suggested it would be appropriate to keep some trees on the northeast area and also to place a few trees in the southeast area for screening. He asked the applicant if he would agree to do so.

Mr. Werthauser stated he would agree to keep some trees in the northeast area and actually move a couple of the trees to the southeast area to fill in gaps as needed. He suggested moving two (2) trees to the southeast so that the neighbors shed would be screened from his view.

Acting Chair Driano asked if there were any further comments from the public and, hearing no response, closed the public hearing. He asked if there were further questions or comments from the Commission.

Commissioner Nelson stated that it does not appear there is a clear distinction of where the trees are to be planted or if the objective is understood by the applicant. She asked the City Forester if the objective is a 2 to 1 replacement for the trees removed and if the applicant could install the trees wherever they wish, or if the objective is to shield the view between neighbors with the planting which would require formal direction from the Commission.

Forester Nays explained that he supported the number of trees for installation to replace those removed and that he generally encourages people to install plantings to soften the borders between properties. He stated he would suggest changing the condition to require three (3) trees be installed on the northeast corner of the site and two (2) trees be placed on the southeast corner in appropriate locations between the properties.

Commissioner Nelson suggested the trees be placed so as not to obstruct the existing gardens.

Acting Chair Driano asked if there were any further comments.

Commissioners Beckett agreed with the Commissioner Nelson’s analysis and with the City Forester’s suggestions for the number and placement of the plantings., if it works for the homeowner and the neighbors.

Mr. Werthauser agreed with the suggestion of the Commission and the City Forester.

Commissioner Nayes also agreed with the proposal and stated she was comfortable that the applicant would work with the neighbors to ensure the plantings are placed in the correct location for screening.

Acting Chari Driano asked if there were any further comments or questions and there was no response.

Commissioner Nelson moved to recommend approval of the Major Site and Building Plan Review and Conditional Use Permit for 2152 Charlton Road, based on the Findings of Fact and subject to the conditions as listed in the Planner’s report dated July 7, 2021 with an amendment to Condition #8 as follows” The Applicant is required to plant three (3) trees on the northeast corner of the proposed garage and two (2) trees on southeast corner of the garage in places deemed to provide screening from adjacent properties.”, seconded by Commissioner Beckett and carried. (4-0)

5. PUBLIC HEARING: A. Major Site & Building Plan Review, 300 Salem Church Road, Applicant Tim Winters, Winco Landscaping Inc., and Property Owners Roger and Shari Wilsey: Acting Chair Driano opened the meeting for the purpose of conducting a public hearing on the application from Tim Winters, Winco Landscaping, Inc. for a Major Site and Building Plan Review to add an in-ground swimming pool, surrounding pool deck, and new retaining wall on the property located at 300 Salem Church Road. He asked Planner Ramler-Olson to review his report.

Planner Ramler-Olson referred to his report dated July 7, 2021 and explained that the proposal to add an in-ground swimming pool, a surrounding pool deck and a new retaining wall measures more than 1,000 sq. ft. and, therefore requires a Major Site and Building Plan review. He explained that the applicant plans to remove an existing multi-terraced existing patio area, fountain and retaining wall that stepped down from the home to the ground in the rear yard. He explained that the pool would be all on one grade and there would be a green space between the pool area and the retaining wall to accommodate a fence that would run the distance of the retaining wall. He advised that if the request is recommended for approval, the applicant would have to provide information on where the fence will be located and the height of the fence and also information relating to the pool cover with the building permit application. He noted that the applicant had submitted information about the fence with the application. He advised that the proposed structure would be located south of the principal structure and meets all setbacks and lot coverage requirements in the R-1, Single-family District.

The Planner displayed elevation drawings showing the dimensions and length of the retaining wall with Side B running 68 ft the length of Side A runs a length of 107 ft. He showed elevation drawings showing that height of the wall from grade and stated that at the tallest point the retaining wall would be at 11.8 ft. for a distance of 12 feet. HE noted that the grade moves up as it moves to the corner, so the exposure of the wall is lessened as it moves to the corner. He showed photos of the current conditions on the property at 300 Salem Church Road as viewed from the southwest and westerly from the adjacent at 366 Salem Church Road.

Planner Ramler-Olson explained that there was a lot of emphasis placed on the screening as part of the consideration. He noted that after his report was sent to Commissioner, there was additional conversation relating to screening of the proposed retaining wall and that he had also received input from residents relating to the screening. He stated that staff adjusted some of the previous recommendations regarding screening as it is an appropriate concern relating to compatibility with surrounding properties.

The Planner advised that the current landscape plan shows the installation of twenty-eight (28) Blue Hydrangeas along the base wall, which may grow to between 4 to 6 feet. tall, however, at certain portions there would still be 6 ft. of retaining wall exposed to neighbors that would still be highly visible to the neighbors to the west and south.

Staff is proposing an additional condition that evergreens be provided along the base of the wall that would provide year-round screening whereas hydrangeas are more seasonal. Staff further noted that screening Is a also a concern so that the proposal does not have an adverse effect on adjacent properties and that evergreens or coniferous plantings along the base of the wall would provide year-round screening.

Planner Ramler-Olson stated that because retaining walls are massive it is recommended that the property owner to retain the services of a Geotechnical Engineer to ensure that the soils below the footings are suitable and that the backfill material is suitable.

Staff included condition that the owner must retain a licensed Geotechnical Engineer to provide the elevations required on the retaining wall plans.

The Planner noted that there was vegetation along the property line, ground cover and overstory trees. He advised that there was some vegetation removed that had provided screening, however, with the removal of the vegetation the retaining wall would now be exposed. He noted that staff further recommended a condition be included that requires evergreens or coniferous plantings be placed between the nearest property lines and the proposed retaining wall.

Acting Chair Driano asked if the showing the location of the fence on the retaining wall should also be included as a condition.

Planner Ramler-Olson explained that Condition No. 8 on page 5 in his report requires that the applicant must describe the proposed fencing at the top of the retaining wall and the plans for installation of an automatic pool cover when making application for a Building Permit. He stated that those details should be noted on the plan and the also location of the fencing on the retaining wall.

Applicant Tim Winters of Winco Landscaping, Inc. explained that he discussed the placement of the fence with the fence company that they determined it would not be wise to mount the fencing to the top cap of the retaining wall. He explained that the fence installer suggested that it would be better to place the fencing behind the capstone and use a method known as “sleeve it” it on the pool decking. He advised that he would work with the fence contractor and concrete contractor, Bulach Construction, to determine the most appropriate placement of the fence. He noted that it would be better secured behind the cap with the “sleeve it” or with the concrete contractor.

Acting Chair Driano explained that the Commission was seeking details of what would ultimately be included in the plan for the fence installation as part of their recommendation.

Mr. Winters advised that he did provide detailed information and that he is working with Belgarde Company, formerly Anchor Block, on the retaining wall materials and design and he would work with Keller Fence for the fencing materials. He stated that he would submit the final plans and other information with the Building Permit application.

Acting Chair Driano asked the Planner if the information submitted is sufficient for the Commission to make a recommendation.

Planner Ramler-Olson explained that the Commission should have adequate information for discussion at this time and to make a recommendation. He noted that if Council approves the request, the applicant must provide the information required in the conditions when applying for the building permit. He noted there appears to be enough room to locate a fence and the information would have to be submitted for the building official to review.

The Planner stated for the record that he received an email from an adjacent neighbor who expressed concerns regarding the visual impact on her property and that he had forwarded the email to the Commission. He explained that she maybe in attendance this evening to discuss her concerns. He noted the rear of her home faces the proposal.

Jane Johnson, 7 Grieve Glen Lane, stated she was present.

Acting Chair Driano asked if Mr. Winter had any concerns regarding the conditions for the Geotechnical evaluation and evergreen plantings at base of retaining wall.

Planner Ramler-Olson indicated that the plantings could be placed at the base of the wall or in a location between the property lines to screen the wall from the adjacent neighbor.

Mr. Winters stated that he would have a Geotechnical Engineer provide the elevations and take soil borings to ensure the subsoils would support the retaining wall. He explained that it is not uncommon to request soil borings for retaining wall installation and that he would provide the report when applying for a building permit. He noted that he would be working with the pool contractor to do soil corrections and make sure the soils are appropriately compacted. He will make sure the information is submitted with the building permit application.

The Planner stated the City Engineer could respond to the questions regarding the Geotechnical information and he encouraged Mr. Winter to contact the City Engineer to determine what information would be required when making application for the building permit.

Mr. Winters agreed to contact the City Engineer to clarify what it is needed.

Mr. Winters explained that he met with the City Forester on-site regarding screening and to discuss options and different types of plantings, and long-term screening including Arborvitae, which would provide year-round screening but would be destroyed and eaten by deer. He noted that he is the pool contractor not the landscape contractor. He stated that the hydrangeas would soften the wall and would be between 6 and 8 ft. in height along the wall. He discussed the difference in grades on the property and may be higher than the proposed fence. He asked what fence height is allowed in the City.

Planner Ramler-Olson stated that the City Code allows a fence up to 6 feet in height.

Mr. Winters stated that there was a 6 or 8 ft. retaining wall in place when the home was purchased by the current owners and there was no screening at that time. He indicated that by placing a 6 or 8 ft. fence on the property would screen the wall from the neighbors. He commented that the property owners did not want evergreens next to the pool that could reach 30 feet in height.

Commissioner Nayes asked if the contractor was only talking about hydrangeas at this time or also evergreens.

Mr. Winters explained that he discussed the types of evergreen trees that would be most likely to succeed in growing if planted on the property with the Forester, however, the evergreens discussed are those that could be destroyed by deer.

Forester Nayes explained that white pine, arborvitae and Japanese yew are the most apt to survive, but they would be destroyed by deer unless they are fenced with steel fencing all year.

Acting Chair Driano asked if there were any other options.

Forester Nayes stated he and Mr. Winters also discussed planting some understory trees that would reach 10 to 20 feet tall, however, they are not evergreen. He did not recommend installing understory trees by the wall, but if they were placed the woodland area of the yard, they could provide the screening, which was what was the invasive species plantings that were removed accomplished.

Mr. Winters asked if the Forester was suggesting planting more to the south and west wooded area away from the wall.

The Forester agreed that area would be more successful. He noted that deer aren’t generally interested in spruce but he indicated they may not survive due to lack of sun and would become sparse within a few years.

Commissioner Nelson commented that it is her opinion that discussion of the landscaping plan should not be conducted during a public hearing and that the Forester and property owner could discuss options for plantings that would provide better screening.

Acting Chair Driano asked if there were any further questions or comments from the Commissioners and, hearing none, opened the public hearing for comments from the public.

Jane Johnson, 7 Grieve Glen Lane, stated that the back of her property abuts the rear of 300 Salem Church Road. She stated she hoped the Commission received her email with photos of her view of the Wilsey property taken from her back yard. She explained that the original view from her property was substantially screen, however, the current phot shows a clear view of the Wilsey back yard. She noted there was mention of a previous a 6 ft. retaining wall that was substantially screened with understory trees until the property owner removed a lot of the vegetation. She noted the rear of their home was now more visible. She stated she was concerned about the 12 ft. tall retaining wall and that she was strongly in favor of more screening. She preferred something more than 6 to 8 ft. tall she encouraged the Commission to require more screening than the 6 ft. tall hydrangeas. She further stated she would appreciate some type of planting that would screen the view in both the summer and winter. She commented that the plantings do not necessarily have to be located at the base of the retaining wall as long as there is screening for privacy between the properties. She stated her concern is to shield the view from her property to the Wilsey home. She commented that it is her hope a landscape architect could come up with a good solution for screening.

Roger Wilsey, 300 Salem Church Road, discussed the current view of the existing retaining walls and stated that the proposed hydrangeas that would reach a height of 6 to 8 ft. would block the view of the current wall. He noted there was a two-tiered wall of 6 ft and another wall at 4 ft for a total of 10 ft. He stated that when the leaves were down, he could see her home and she could see his and there was no blockage. He noted that the hydrangeas would run along the base should provide screening and should block the view of a portion of the new retaining wall therefore, the view would be similar to what the neighbor saw with the previous retaining wall. He explained that she would be looking up at the wall and would see the top of the hydrangeas not the wall. He explained that his neighbors to the west and north of his property have no screening near their pools and he is not complaining about them. He further stated that the fencing attached to the retaining wall would be installed for security purposes. He the City Forester had approved the current plan submitted, therefore, in his opinion it is a waste of time to discuss it when there is a plan that will work for screening. He commented that it is a waste of time to discuss this as there is a plan that will work.

Ms. Johnson commented that the Planner had suggested more screening be installed this evening. She further noted that she now has a clear view of the proposed retaining wall due to the recent removal of substantial vegetation on the site. She explained that she wasn’t able to see it as well previously until the trees were removed. She stated she understands they want a more open view, but now it is much more visible now. She noted that her concern is that it will be much more visible now.

Shari Wilsey, 300 Salem Church Road, explained that she had cleared out a lot of invasive trees on the property. She stated that Mrs. Johnson does not know her, however she stated that she is an award-winning gardener and that she would screen and would add lovely trees on the property over time. She explained that at this time they met with the City Forester who agreed that the hydrangeas growing between 6 and 8 ft., sometimes to 10 ft., should screen the wall. She commented that the two (2) properties adjacent to her home both have pools and are not screened. She stated she somewhat resents the fact that some items are being discussed tonight since all necessary documentation was provided this evening and was given to the pool company.

Acting Chair Driano asked if there were any further comments form the public and, hearing no response, closed the public hearing.

Commissioner Nayes referred to the photo of the Wilsey home and pointed out that the adjacent property owner would be viewing a retaining wall or a brick home. She pointed out that the issue appears to be the removal of vegetation that previously screened the view. She stated that the homeowner Is willing to plant some decorative plantings near the wall and had suggested a long-term plan to plant other trees on the property, most likely further back from the wall, that would help screen.

Commission Beckett referred to the photo of the Wilsey home and stated that there appears to be a sunny area between the properties and the Forester suggested placing some screening further back from the wall in the yard. She commented that looking at this photo all that you see is a large wall. She pointed out that there would be no privacy between the properties and, in her opinion, most people chose to live in Sunfish Lake for the privacy it affords.

Commissioner Nelson asked if the Geotechnical engineering report is required at this time.

Planner Ramler-Olson explained that the City Engineer requested that a Geo Technical Engineer submit the information when plans are submitted to the City Building Inspector for a building permit.

Commissioner Nelson explained that the Commission had been very adamant in the past about having a completed application package prior to reviewing a request. She noted that it appears the Geotechnical report and landscape plan are not completed at this time. She commented that is it a shame that due to COVID the Commission was not able to conduct a site visit prior to considering this plan. She noted that an 11 ft. retaining wall looks much different in a photo than it does in person. She further noted that the view would also be different depending on whether you are on seeing it from the top of the site or below.

Acting Chair Driano asked if any Commissioner was ready to make a motion on this request.

Commissioner Nayes asked for clarification regarding what was needed from the Geotechnical Engineer. She asked if there was an issue with the construction of the retaining wall.

Planner Ramler-Olson explained that the City Engineer had specified an area of the wall where it would be necessary to certify that the soils below the footing are suitable for construction of the retaining wall, however, this information may be provided when applying for the building permit.

Commissioner Nayes asked if the staff recommendation for approval would include a condition that some type of evergreen plantings be installed for screening purposes.

Planner Ramler-Olson stated that after receiving information from the City Forester regarding the evergreens, the staff recommendation could be flexible and could include the planting of understory trees near the woodland area.

Commissioner Nayes moved to recommend approval of the Major Site and Building Plan Review for property located at 300 Salem Church Road based on the findings of fact and subject to the conditions listed in the Planner’s report dated July 8, 2021 and with two additional conditions which state that the applicant would install some type of evergreen or coniferous plantings or understory trees along the property line and hydrangeas adjacent to the retaining wall and that the property owner would work with the City Forester regarding placement of evergreens or appropriate understory trees for screening purposes.

In discussion, Commissioner Beckett expressed her opinion that the evergreen plantings should not be identified as an alternative planting and that evergreens should be placed along the property to provide screening.

Commissioner Nayes explained her rationale for not forcing the applicant to plant evergreens was based on the fact that there would be an issue with deer destroying them so she included the language for understory trees.

Commissioner Beckett commented that she is property owner who has evergreens in her yard for screening and she would encourage the applicant to consider using evergreens for screening.

Commissioner Nayes withdrew her original motion.

Commissioner Nayes moved to recommend approval of the Major Site and Building Plan Review for property located at 300 Salem Church Road based on the findings of fact and subject to the conditions listed in the Planner’s report dated July 8, 2021 with an amendment to Condition No. 6 to include language requiring the applicant to plant two (2) Evergreen trees along the property line and also appropriate understory plantings, and that the applicant is required to retain Geotechnical Engineering to provide the elevations required on the retaining wall plans, as requested by the City Engineer, seconded by Commissioner Beckett and carried. (Ayes: 3, Nayes, Beckett, Driano; Nayes: 0; Abstain: 1, Nelson)

 

6. PUBLIC HEARING: A. Major Site & Building Plan Review and Variance, 100 Windy Hill Road, applicant Tom Flint of Alexander Design Group and Joseph and Madeline Mauer property owners: Acting Chair Driano opened the meeting for the purpose of conducting a public hearing on the application from Tom Flint of the Alexander Design Group and property owners Joseph and Madeline Mauer for a Major Site and Building Plan Review and a Variance for property located at 100 Windy Hill Road. He asked Planner Ramler-Olson to review his report.

Planner Ramler-Olson referred to his report dated July 7, 2021 and explained the application was for a Major Site and Building Plan Review to construct a single-family home on the property at 100 Windy Hill Road and a Variance of 3 feet from the 30 ft. maximum height allowed for a principal structure on a residential lot. He stated that the property is zoned R-1 Single-Family Residential and is located in the Shoreland Overlay District. He noted that there are two (2) structures currently located on the property that would be removed. He advised that the applicant is proposing to fill in an on-site wetland and replace with banked credits.

The Planner stated that the Major Site and Building Plan meets all requirements as outlined in the Zoning Code for the R-L Single Family Residential and Shoreland Overlay Districts, with the exception of the Maximum Building Height. He explained that access to the home would be from a private driveway off Windy Hill Road. He stated that the design of the home features traditional residential architectural elements, including gable ends along the front of the structure, front entry porch, hipped roofs, dormers and a walkout abasement along the read side of the home. Building materials are consistent with the surrounding residential properties. He explained that the plan includes an outdoor pool and a pool house that is connect to the home via an underground hallway. He explained that a tree inventory was completed and a tree preservation plan submitted that includes installation of a 4-foot-high protective barrier around the trees during construction.

Planner Ramler-Olson stated that the extensive Stormwater Management Plan was reviewed by the City Engineer and knowledgeable staff. He noted that the plan includes infiltration basins and a culvert underneath the driveway for stormwater management.

The Planner advised that the plans show the location of the proposed well and identify two (2) sites for the septic systems.

Planner Ramler-Olson displayed a rendering of the front elevation of the home with the average grade highlighted and the portion of the roofline that reaches 33 feet, which is 3 feet above the maximum building height requirement. He explained that by pulling the building three feet higher above the average grade elevation, less grading would be necessary and approximately 21 mature trees would be saved. He advised that the saved trees would also preserve the natural buffer as they are located between the proposed improvement and neighboring properties. He explained that the preservation of these trees, the reduced grading on site are in line with the City goals an satisfy the Variance criteria as outlined in the Planner’s report dated July 7, 2021.

The Planner stated that one neighbor to the west of the property contacted staff regarding the impact of the construction equipment may cause on the road and how the City would handle repairing the road. He explained that he deferred the question to the City Engineer, who was on vacation, and that he was unsure if the neighbor’s concerns were addressed or if that person was in attendance this evening.

Commissioner Nayes asked if the old septic system would be removed when the older buildings are torn down and if the plans show the location of the new septic systems.

Planner Ramler-Olson stated that the old septic system must be removed by City Code regulations and that the plans show the new septic location.

Commission Nayes asked if the would be burying the powerlines along the road only and if it would occur prior to construction and would it have any impact on the trees.

Planner Ramler-Olson stated he would have to defer that question to the City Forester.

Tom Flint, architect for the project, explained that the existing septic system would be abandon as part of the demolition of the existing home and garage. He noted that the both the electric power and gas lines are currently underground and are located under the driveway. He explained that Xcel Energy advised that the electric service line should be adequate for the new home, however, the gas line will most likely need upgrading. He stated that since they are located under the driveway, it should not cause any disturbance to the trees.

Commissioner Nayes questioned how the wetland removal and banked credits would work.

Planner Ramler-Olson explained that there is a separate agency that reviews that portion of the plan and that it is not included as a condition of the City’s approval.
Acting Chair Driano asked if the wetland information should be included in the conditions for approval

Planner Ramler-Olson explained that there is a condition which states that the applicant must obtain all other permits as required and that would include obtaining a permit for filling in the wetland area.

Acting Chair Driano asked if there were any further questions from the Commission and, hearing none, opened the public hearing for comments from the public.

There were no comments from the public and Acting Chair Driano closed the public hearing.

Acting Chair Driano asked if there were any further questions or comments from the Commission.

Commissioner Nelson recalled that the Commission had recently reviewed an application for construction of a new home and the builder was asked to work out some type of agreement with another builder who was working in the area to coordinate their schedules for heavy equipment so that damage to the road during both projects was minimal. She suggested that it may be applicable for the contractor to make arrangements for the construction schedule so that there are not several pieces of heavy equipment working at the same time. She noted it may be difficult to determine which contractor damaged the road if there are more than one working on the site at the same time.

Clerk Iago explained that staff takes photos of the road condition prior to each project beginning so there is proof of the road condition prior to construction and that the contractors would know if their equipment caused damage to the road. She explained that staff had also prepared a list of requirements for contractors to provide on-site parking during construction so that traffic is not blocked by contractors parking on the road. She commented that off-road parking should not be a problem with this property since it is a large parcel and would have space for on-site parking.

Planner Ramler-Olson stated that staff worked with the contractors on the previous projects to ensure that traffic was not impeded and that the roadways are repaired to their condition previous to construction.

Acting Chair Driano asked if the applicant must adhere to any follow-up recommendations that were listed in the memorandum from the City Engineer dated June 30 or July 6, 2021.

Planner Ramler-Olson stated that the recommendations from the City Engineer were adequately addressed by the applicant and language was included in the conditions to ensure adherence even though they were adequately addressed.

Acting Chair Driano asked if there were any further questions or comments and there was no response.

Commissioner Nelson moved to recommend approval of the Major Site and Building Plan and Variance request for property located at 100 Windy Hill Road, based on the Findings of Fact and subject to the conditions as listed in the Planner’s report dated July 7, 2021 and with additional conditions as reviewed by the Planner on July 15, 2021, seconded by Commissioner Nayes and carried. (4-0)

OTHER/NEW BUSINESS: Clerk Iago explained that Council had discussed returning to in-person meetings and that further discussion would be held at the August Council meeting. She advised that there were some concerns expressed regarding conducting in-person meetings if everyone had not received the COVID vaccine and if unvaccinated people refused to wear masks at the meeting. Staff was directed to find out whether or not the church has the capability to accommodate both virtual and in-person meetings and also if the City can legally conduct the meetings both in-person and online.

ADJOURN: Acting Chair Driano asked if there was any further business and there was no response.

Acting Chair Driano moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:00 p.m., seconded by Commissioner Nelson and carried. (4-0)

We are a small community proud of our heritage and committed to the preservation of our pristine, rural character. We cherish our privacy, yet know we are part of a thriving Dakota County and the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area. With these partnerships in mind, we strive to preserve that unique spirit which is Sunfish Lake, Minnesota.