SUNFISH LAKE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – MAY 21, 2021

ONLINE MEETING - 7:00 P.M.


Attendants:

Chair:   Tom Hendrickson

Commissioners:  Shannon Nelson, Jeannine Nayes and Dominick Driano
City Planner:  Tom Ramler-Olson

City Clerk:  Cathy Iago


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

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

Commissioner Nayes moved to adopt the agenda, seconded by Commissioner Nelson and carried (5-0) 

 

3.  APPROVE MINUTES MARCH 18, 2021:  Chair Hendrickson asked if there were any additions or corrections to the March 18, 2021 Minutes and there was no response.

Chair Hendrickson moved to approve the March 18, 2021 Planning Commission minutes as presented/corrected, seconded by Commissioner Beckett and carried. (5-0)

 

4.   PUBLIC HEARING:  A. Conditional Use Permit to Add a Security Gate at 369 Salem Church Road, applicant Tim Johnson, Property owners Jim & Sharon Adams:  Chair Hendrickson opened the meeting for the purpose of a public hearing on a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application from Tim Johnson, LIVIT, to install a security gate at 369 Salem Church Road for property owners Sharon and Jim Adams. He asked Planner Ramler-Olson to review his report.

 

Planner Ramler-Olson referred to his report dated May 13, 2021 and explained that the proposed security gate would be installed at the entry driveway to the property at 369 Salem Church Road. He stated that the property is located in the R-1 Residential Zoning District and the Shoreland Overlay District. He explained that the site received approval for a Major Site and Building Plan review to construct a new home in 2019. He noted that the installation of the gate would be a new feature to the previous approval in 2019.

 

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.

 

Planner Ramler-Olson explained that the entire feature of the gate and columns would be 40 ft in length and would not exceed the 6 ft. height requirement. He noted that the applicant advised that landscaping would be installed near the structure to match the landscaping approved for the site in 2019 and to soften the look of the feature.

 

Staff reviewed the application and found that it satisfies all CUP criteria as specified in the City Code and recommends approval of the request based on the Findings of Fact and subject to the conditions as listed in the Planners report dated May 13, 2021.

 

Commissioner Nayes referred to the diagram in the Planner’s report showing the gate location across the road and questioned if they would have to build up the ditch on the side of the structure to meet the grade of Salem Church Road. She also asked if it would change the drainage in the ditch by the road.

 

Planner Ramler-Olson deferred the question to the applicant.

 

Tim Johnson, LIVIT, explained that the gate is located 25 ft. from the shared driveway entrance to the property and it is 100 ft. from Salem Church Road. He stated that the entire structure would be located on private property.

 

Planner Ramler-Olson explained that the City Engineer had reviewed the request and recommended approval.

 

Commissioner Driano referred to page 2, Item 5 under the General Zoning Review in the Planners report dated May 13, 2021 and questioned if the applicant had spoken with emergency service providers to incorporate the preferred feature for emergency access. He noted this is one of the conditions of approval and asked how emergency vehicles would access the site.

 

Mr. Johnson explained that he had sent an email to the City summarizing his conversations with the Police and Fire Chiefs that advised he would provide them a code for accessing he mechanized gate. He further advised that typically a special key is provided to police and fire for access when this type of gate is installed. He noted that there is also a “shut-down” option to disconnect power to the gate once it is accessed to prevent it from opening and closing. He stated that both the police and fire department found this to be acceptable.

 

Commissioner Driano questioned if delivery drivers such as UPS would also have access.

 

Chair Hendrickson noted that it is possible to give delivery personnel their own code to access the gate.

 

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

 

Jim Stowell, 389 Salem Church Road, asked which way the gate swings.

 

Mr. Johnson stated the gate would swing inward toward the home.

 

Mr. Stowell noted that the original plan approved in 2019 included tree planting for buffering and restoration along the shoreline. He noted that there had been no activity with the plantings or restoration and asked if that should be completed before consideration of this request.

 

Planner Ramler-Olson explained that the review this evening is only to consider the request for the security gate installation. He stated that the home is still under construction and no final site review had been done on the previously approved request. He stated that staff would make sure that all items required with the initial approval are completed.

 

Chair Hendrikson asked Mr. Johnson if there was a timeline for completion of these items.

 

Mr. Johnson indicated that planting would most likely begin in the middle of summer. He explained that because the home is still under construction it may damage the landscaping it is were installed at this time. He advised that electrical lines would have to be buried prior to the gate installation, therefore, the sod installation would have to wait until that was completed.

 

Mr. Stowell commented that residents have a right to do what they want on their property, however, in was his opinion that having a gate was not very welcoming and does not reflect the sense of community in Sunfish Lake.

 

Pegge Johnson, 349 Salem Church Road, stated that in the past it was her understanding that residents needed to show hardship prior to getting approval for a security gate. She recalled that other requests had been denied and that some residents had installed gates without asking for permission. She questioned if the rules had changed and if anyone could now get permission for a security gate.

 

Chair Hendrickson recalled that in previous years residents had to show hardship, however, the City found that denying the requests was not enforceable. He advised that the City established regulations to allow the security gates with an application for a CUP.

 

Planner Ramler-Olson noted that the CUP regulations to install security gates is outlined in Section 1218.03 and Section 1204 of the City Code outlines the criteria for approval of the request. He further explained that hardships are usually attached to Variance requests, not Conditional Use Permit applications.

 

Ms. Johnson stated that she talked to a former Councilmember who advised that residents do not have to show a reason for requesting a security gate.

 

Chair Hendrickson explained that every application is different and needs to be assessed on its own merits.

 

Kristin Hoelscher-Schacker, 393 Salem Church Road, stated that supports the statement that installing a gate feels unwelcoming and that she was unsure why a resident would want a gate but won’t install a fence.

 

Chair Hendrickson asked if there were any further questions or comments from the public and, hearing none, closed the public hearing. He asked if there were any further questions from the Commission and there was no response.

 

Commissioner Nelson moved to recommend approval of the Conditional Use Permit application to install a security gate at 369 Salem Church Road, based on the findings of fact dated May 20, 2021 and subject to the conditions as listed in the Planner report date May 13, 2021, seconded by Chair Hendrickson and carried. (5-0)

 

5. PUBLIC HEARING: A. Major Site & Building Plan Review and Conditional Use Permit to Add an In-Ground Swimming Pool at 2158 Charlton Road, Pat Henry, Prestige Pools, applicant, property owners Stephen & Jennifer Ettinger: Chair Hendrickson opened the meeting for the purpose of a public hearing on a Major Site and Building Plan Review and Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to add an in-ground swimming pool at 2158 Charlton Road. He asked Planner Ramler-Olson to review his report.

 

Planner Ramler-Olson referred to his report dated May 13, 2021 and explained that Pat Henry, Prestige Pools, applied for a Major Site Plan Review and Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to add an in-ground swimming on the property located at 2158 Charlton Road on behalf of the property owners Stephen and Jennifer Ettinger. He explained that the property is zoned R-1, single family residential, and is located within the Shoreland Overlay District. He stated the proposed swimming pool is considered an accessory structure and, along with the surrounding pool deka, would disturb about 1, 995 sq. ft. of the subject property. He noted that accessory structure exceeding 1,000 sq. ft. or more require approval of the site and building plan and that the size and location of the pool require a CUP. He noted that swimming pools are identified as a low-profile accessory structure that is limited to an area of 1,000 sq. ft. when placed between the principal structure and the ordinary high-water mark, except by conditional use permit.

 

The Planner stated the proposed structure would be located south of the principal structure within the lakeside portion of the subject property. He noted the grade of the location of the proposed pool was previously flattened to accommodate a putting green. He advised the edge of the pool closest to Sunfish Lake is proposed to be 207 ft. from the ordinary high-water level and the total area of improvements that include both the pool and surrounding deck would be approximately 1, 995 sq. ft.

 

Planner Ramler-Olson explained that a notice of the request was sent to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for review and comments. He stated that staff from the DNR commented that the amount of impervious cover above 25% should be addressed to mitigate stormwater runoff generated by that impervious cover. He noted that the amount of imperious cover would be 8.4 percent.

 

The Planner stated that existing vegetation would provide screening from properties to the east and a landscape plan was submitted that shows plantings that would screen the use from properties to the west and capture water from the pool and deck areas. He advised that the City Engineer had reviewed the application and found that the proposed improvements comply with requirements relating to stormwater management and site grading.

 

Planner Ramler-Olson explained that the lake side setback at 207 ft. meets the required 200 ft. setback from the ordinary high-water mark and also the side yard setback requirement of 25 ft. and all also meets all Conditional Use Permit criteria as required in the City Code.

 

Staff recommended approval of the Major Site Plan review and Conditional Use Permit based on the Findings of Fact and subject to the conditions as listed in the Planners report dated May 13, 2021.

 

Chair Hendrickson asked if the City Engineer had specified what type of silt fencing should be installed. He referred to site drawing and pointed out that no silt fencing placement was shown on the drawing. He noted there was an area with a 30-inch berm increase in elevation and that he preferred to see where the silt fencing would be placed prior to making a recommendation to Council.

 

Planner Ramler-Olson explained that the City Engineer had reviewed the application and requested the addition of two (2) conditions relating to the silt fencing installation and inspection prior to starting excavation. He pointed out that the area was previously graded to be flat and served as a putting green prior to this request and that he would defer to the City Engineer regarding the silt fence installation.

 

Chair Hendrickson explained that he does not recall seeing what amount of soil excavation would be required to install the pool.

 

Commissioner Driano referred to Condition No. 8 on Page 6 of the Planners report that requires the applicant to properly install the silt fence and have it inspected and approved prior to excavation.

 

Chair Hendrickson stated that he did not wish to send an incomplete informational packet to Council and recommended that the applicant should provide documentation with the placement and type of silt fencing that would be installed to the Planner to include with the Council information packet prior to their meeting.

 

Planner Ramler-Olson asked what the Commission to advise the specific information they want the applicant to provide for Council review.

 

Chair Henrickson suggested that the applicant should provide a cross-section of the pool so that the City Engineer may calculate the amount of soil that would be excavated in case additional permits are required and a plan for the placement and type of silt fencing that would be installed so that the Engineer could review and approve it prior to the Council meeting.

 

The Planner stated he would review the building plan regulations and forward the request to the City Engineer.

 

Commissioner Nelson noted that the new pool would be located further from the home and asked if there are plans to install any landscape lighting on the property or near the pool. She noted that any proposed lighting could not be directed toward the lake and should meet City Code requirements.

 

Planner Ramler-Olson asked the applicant to respond to the question.

 

Pat Henry, Prestige Pools, stated he would be installing slitted silt fence and that the excavation would require hauling 120 yards of soil off the site for the in-ground pool. He explained that he had not discussed any exterior lighting installation with the property owners and that he would ask if there are any plans to install any lighting.

 

Commissioner Nelson stated she was uncomfortable taking action on the request with some variables unresolved.

 

Mr. Henry commented that there was no exterior lighting included with the application.

 

Chair Hendrickson asked if lighting is prohibited near the pool area.

 

Planner Ramler-Olson explained that he was not familiar with the section of the City Code as it relates to exterior lighting near pools, however, he pointed out that the lighting must be contained on the property and not directed towards the lake. He noted that no lighting plan was submitted with the request.

 

Mr. Henry stated that he was asked about screening the pool from adjacent neighbors but had not been asked about lighting. He pointed out that it would be preferrable not to have to wait another month for the City to take action on the pool installation. He noted that the silt fencing was typically installed especially adjacent to a lake, however, the lighting question caught him off-guard.

 

Chair Hendrickson stated he would prefer to have these items in order prior to presenting the request to Council.

 

Mr. Henry stated he would provide the cross-section and silt fencing installation to the City staff for review prior to the Council meeting. He advised that he had not seen the landscape plan for screening of the pool nor had he discussed any lighting with the property owner, therefore, he was unable to respond to those items.

 

Chair Hendrickson pointed out that the Commission is being asked to provide a recommendation for approval of the request without some items being provided by the property owner. He stated he was reluctant to send the application to Council if it is not complete. He noted that he trusts Mr. Henry to provide the information on the silt fencing and excavation to the Planner.

 

Commissioner Beckett stated why would the Commission send a recommendation if the Council would not take action without all the information provided.

 

Commissioner Driano asked if the Commission could amend or add another condition No. 11 that requires any lighting to meet City Code regulations.


Mr. Henry pointed out that he would only be installing the in-ground pool and had no plans to install lighting as part of his request. He stated he would provide the information relating to the silt fence and excavation to the City Engineer.

 

After a brief discussion, Commissioners agreed that an additional condition could be included in their recommendation which states that any lighting associated with the proposed pool installation must meet City Code requirements so that the request was not delayed another month.

 

Chair Hendrickson asked if the application included plans for a retractable pool cover.

 

Mr. Henry stated he had submitted the plans for the pool with a retractable cover to the City Building Inspector, however, he could also provide them to the Planner if necessary.

 

Chair Hendrickson suggested that any action taken on this matter include an additional Condition No. 11 which states; “If the applicant or property owner decides to add lighting to the proposed improvements said lighting must meet all requirements of the City Code Section 1216.06 Lighting.” He further suggested that Mr. Henry be requested to provide the cross-section and silt fencing installation information to the City Engineer for review prior to Council review of the request.

 

Chair Hendrickson asked if there were any questions or comments from the public.

 

Jim Stowell, 389 Salem Church Road, thanked the Commission for the work they do and asked if an assessment of impact on the aquifer with the installation of pools had been submitted.

 

Chair Hendrickson stated that he was unsure if an impact statement was required with pool installation and asked Mr. Henry if he was required to do so. He commented that it is his understanding that water is pumped in when a pool is installed and not taken from the lake or a well.

 

Mr. Henry agreed with the Chair and noted that when he installs a pool the water is usually pumped in by truck. He noted that watering a lawn from a well takes more water than filling a pool.

 

Chair Hendrickson asked if there were any further comments from the public or Commission and there was no response.

 

Chair Hendrickson moved to recommend approval of the Major Site and Building Plan Review and Conditional Use Permit application for property at 2158 Charlton Road, based on the Findings of Fact and subject to the ten (10) conditions listed in the Planners report dated May 13, 2021 and to include an additional Condition No. 11 which states: If the applicant or property owner decides to add lighting to the proposed improvements said lighting must meet all requirements of the City Code Section 1216.06 Lighting, seconded by Commissioner Nelson and carried. (5-0) 

 

6. ADJOURN: Chair Henrickson asked if there was any other business and there was no response.

Chair Hendrickson moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:05 p.m., seconded by Commissioner Beckett and carried. (5-0)

 

Respectfully submitted,



________________________

Catherine Iago, City Clerk

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.