- DRAFT -
SUNFISH LAKE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – NOVEMBER 19, 2014
7:00 P.M. - ST. ANNE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Chair: Andrea McCue
Commissioners: Tom Schlehuber, and Tom Hendrickson.
City Planner: Michelle Barness
City Clerk: Cathy Iago
City Forester: Jim Nayes
Commissioner Ginny Beckett was absent and Commissioner Shari Hansen arrived at 7:10 p.m.
1. CALL TO ORDER: Chair McCue called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
2. ADOPT AGENDA: Chair McCue asked if there were any additions to the agenda and there was no response.
Commissioner Hendrickson moved to adopt the agenda, seconded by Commissioner Schlehuber and carried. (3-0)
3. APPROVE MINUTES SEPTEMBER 17, 2014: Chair McCue asked if there were any additions or corrections to September 17, 2014 Planning Commission minutes.
Commissioner Hendrickson requested a correction to the first paragraph on Page 4 of the September 17, 2014 minutes. He advised that the word “building” should be changed to “builder”.
Chair McCue asked if there were any further corrections and there was no response.
Commissioner Schlehuber moved to approve the September 17, 2014 Planning Commission minutes as corrected by replacing the work “building” with the word “builder” in the first paragraph on page 4 of the minutes, seconded by Commissioner Hendrickson and carried. (3-0)
4. PUBLIC HEARING; Conditional Use Permit - Update Antenna, 2035 Charlton Road, Crown Castle/T-Mobile: Chair McCue opened the public hearing for the property at 2035 Charlton Road and asked the Planner to present the application.
Planner Barness stated the applicants are requesting approval of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to allow for new personal wireless service antenna on an existing wireless service tower located on the St. Anne’s Episcopal Church property at 2035 Charlton Road. She stated that the property is zoned Institutional District and personal wireless service towers and antennas not located on a pubic structure are allowed in the district by CUP. She advised that T-Mobile currently has nine (9) antenna structures mounted on the tower at 75 ft. and the proposed project consists of adding three (3) new antennas and RRU signal amplifiers to the existing tower at the same heights. She explained that the second component of the project is the addition of a small piece of equipment within the existing T-Mobile shelter at the base of the antenna.
Chair McCue questioned if the applicant proposes the additional antenna to upgrade service.
The Planner responded yes and explained that the applicant had requested the additional antenna to meet current wireless service needs and to provide adequate coverage for the area. She stated that the applicant had submitted a letter from a licensed professional engineer with SSC certifying that the proposed antennas, their location on the tower, and the related equipment housed in the existing shelter are necessary to meet the needs of the system and to provide adequate coverage for the area.
Planner Barness pointed out that since the applicant is proposing to co-locate on an existing antenna, they are not required to submit information on alternative sites and why those additional sites may not be acceptable. She noted there are no changes proposed to the height of the antenna or the existing structure that houses the equipment.
The Planner advised that the City Engineer reviewed the application and had no comments. She further advised that the proposed request is consistent with the guidelines in the Comprehensive Plan for the subject site in the Institutional Use zoning district.
Staff recommends approval of the request based on the findings of fact as listed in the memorandum dated November 19, 2014 and with no conditions.
Chair McCue thanked the Planner and opened the public hearing for comments or questions from the floor. She asked that anyone speaking provide their name and address for the record.
Kathy Wenger, Real Estate Specialist with Crown Castle, was present to respond to questions. She explained that some of the electronic equipment that is normally housed in the equipment structure at the base of the antenna would be placed on the tower directly behind the new antenna. She stated that this is possible due to new fiber optic technology.
Chair McCue stated she supports the proposal since it is an upgrade for wireless service.
Chair McCue asked if there any further comments and hearing no response, closed the public hearing.
Chair McCue asked if the Commission had any further comments and there was no response.
Commissioner Schlehuber moved to recommend approval of the Conditional Use Permit to Update Antenna for the property located at 2035 Charlton Road, based on the Findings of Fact as listed in the memorandum dated November 19, 2014, seconded by Commissioner Hendrickson and carried. (3-0)
5. PUBLIC HEARING; Animal Ordinance Amendment to Implement Locational Requirements for Non-Domestic and Farm Animals: Chair McCue opened the public hearing for the purpose of discussion relating to an amendment to the Animal Ordinance which would implement locational requirements for non-domestic and farm animals. She asked the Planner to present her report.
Planner Barness stated that the City Council had discussed options for implementing setback and locational standards for chickens and other farm animal at their October 7, 2014 meeting. She explained the discussion arose as a result of a recent review of an administrative permit for chicken keeping whereby the location of the animals on the subject property became a point of contention between neighbors and the animal owners. She advised that the administrative permit was sent to Council for their determination since staff was unable to make a clear determination as to where such animals are permitted and how to reach a compromise for the location due to concerns raised by neighbors.
The Planner advised that Council agreed that establishing some form of setback or locational standards for the keeping of farm animal was necessary to ensure that animals are kept in a manner sensitive to potential impacts to the site, adjacent neighbors and the community in general. She stated that Council requested planning staff to review regulations relating to chickens and other farm or non-domestic animals in other communities similar to Sunfish Lake and to provide a draft ordinance amendment for Planning Commission to review and make recommendation to Council as to whether or not an amendment should be adopted and if so, what specific setback or locational standards would be included.
Planner Barness explained that the City Forester also reviews the administrative permits and that she requested he be present this evening to provide input on the subject.
The Planner explained that the Commission may consider including recommendations for any of the following: Locational restrictions; Setbacks for the main structure housing the animals and also for accessory structures; Restriction for yard placement (side, front, rear); and/or Setbacks from lot lines.
Planner Barness pointed out that Council specifically requested that staff omit any reference to distances in the proposed amendment so that the Commission could determine what would be appropriate based on their discussion.
The Planner referred the Commission to page 2 of her report dated November 12, 2014 which contained a summary of regulations from communities similar to Sunfish Lake in size, with large lots and housing near lakes. She noted that the community most similar to Sunfish Lake was Woodland, Minnesota and reviewed the setback requirements they had implemented for chicken keeping, including setbacks from the principal structure, lot lines, and wetlands. She explained that some administrative permits already have the chicken coop placed next to the home and therefore, those would be grand-fathered in. She also noted that any previously approved administrative permits would not have to adhere to a change in regulations as they would also be grand-fathered in. She also noted that the City of Minnetonka used a different approach by adopting language that states: “The chicken coop may not be located closer to the boundary line of an adjacent property than to the principal structure on the animal owner’s property, and not less than 10 ft. from the lot line.”
Planner Barness referred Commissioners to the proposed ordinance amendment and advised that under Section 1. d. she had listed the areas that they may consider regulating; 1) setback from principal structures on adjacent lots; 2) setback from the property line; 3) setback from a wetland, pond or basin, and, 4) Animal enclosure shall not be visible from a lake.
Commissioner Hansen arrived at 7:10 p.m.
The Planner noted that currently the placement of non-domestic and farm animals on a property within the City is only regulated by setbacks which may apply to animal buildings or enclosures. She explained that if a chicken coop structure is constructed as an accessory structure on a property, the coop would need to maintain the setback for an accessory structure in the applicable zoning district and fencing to enclose animal runs would adhere to applicable fencing setbacks. She reviewed the current structure and fencing setback standards for the City as listed on page 3 of her report dated November 12, 2014. She noted that currently the only specific animal setbacks in City Code relate to horse corrals and stables, while other farms animals, such as chickens or bees require smaller enclosures and may have different land use impacts in regards to feed, exercise, noise, and appearance.
Chair McCue pointed out that some animals, such as horses and goats require areas for grazing and questioned if the current City Code contains language for setback of the grazing area. She asked the City Forester could comment on including other animals in the regulations
Forester Nayes stated that in his opinion the homes in the City are too close together to have large animals on site such as goats, pigs, cows, and horses. He pointed out that these animals would create unappealing smells due to large amounts of manure as well as other health hazards relating to rodents and also other predators. He stated he was comfortable with issuing administrative permits for chicken keeping, but not for goats since in his opinion, stricter standards should apply for larger animals.
There was discussion relating to whether or not to require additional permit or review requirements for other large animals in the proposed ordinance amendment and the Commission concurred to focus on chickens, bees, and small non-domestic or farm animals.
Clerk Iago pointed out that keeping horses requires application for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP); she suggested Commission may recommend requiring animals such as pigs, cows, and goats apply for a CUP versus an administrative permit.
There was discussion relating to whether or not to include all farm animals under the CUP process. The Planner explained that she distributes all CUP applications to staff for their review and that a new set of criteria would have to be adopted to include the other animals in the ordinance.
Commissioner Hansen pointed out that it would depend on the site as to whether or not she would support such a request; she noted that she would not support the larger animals on a 2.5-acre site, but maybe on a 30-acre site.
The Planner suggested that the Commission concentrate on a minimum setback for any animal habitat rather than a specific setback for a specific type of animal.
Commissioner Hendrickson pointed out that any animal would require some type of housing structure and if an applicant or neighbor does not agree with the regulations they would have to file an appeal through the appropriate process. He stated he preferred to leave the ordinance more general at this time.
The Planner agreed that if the ordinance contains more structure she would have to do further research on what type of criteria should be included.
Chair McCue agreed and suggested leaving the determination to the Forester as to whether or not more restrictions should be applied to a request for keeping farm animals.
Forester Nayes stated he would be comfortable with the regulations stating a minimum distance that structures must be placed from the property line or language such as the City of Minnetonka stating not closer to the property line than to the existing home on the property.
Chair McCue asked if roosters were allowed. The Planner stated they are not allowed after they reach crowing age.
Forester Nayes pointed out that there may be some flocks of chickens in the City that he was not aware of and unless it is brought to his attention, he does not actively look for properties with animals. He stated he was comfortable with reviewing administrative permits for chickens and bees with minimal guidelines in place.
Chair McCue agreed and commented that if further review was needed the Forester could refer the matter to Council.
Commissioner Hendrikson referred to the proposed ordinance amendment and stated his preference would be to use the language from the City of Minnetonka and change the distance from the lot line to not less than 25 feet versus 10 feet. He noted the 25 ft. setback would then be inserted in Section 1. d. (1) for principal structure on adjacent lots and Section 1. d(2) for setback from the property line. He further suggested that under Section 1.d. the wording of the first sentence be changed by removing the word “the” and inserting the word “an’ which would then read “The ability of an animal enclosure…”. He suggested a 75 ft. setback from the ordinary high water mark be listed in Section 1.d. (3) from a wetland, pond or basin. He also stated that his preference would be to remove item d.4, which states: “Animal enclosures shall not be visible from a lake.” He pointed out that there are many determining factors to consider when trying to determine what is visible on the lake and who would have responsibility to make the final determination.
The Planner noted that the Shoreland Overlay District provides for a 200 ft. setback for structures near the lake.
Commissioner Hendrickson commented that would prohibit several properties within the City from chicken keeping.
There was discussion relating to an appropriate distance from the lake and wetlands due to health hazards from the animal waste.
Commissioner Schlehuber questioned the concern and noted there are several wild turkeys that are running through the City near wetlands.
Forester Nayes explained he had more concern about raccoons getting into a chicken coop if it was placed too close to wetlands rather than animal waste contaminating the wetland.
Chair McCue stated she would prefer a number be inserted.
Planner Barness explained that the City of Woodland set the number at 25 ft. from wetlands.
Commissioner Schlehuber asked if the recent request that spurred this discussion was to set the chicken coop closer than 25 ft. to the property line.
The Planner responded that the applicants had located the chicken coop in an existing dog kennel which was closer than 25 ft. to the property line; however, they agreed and moved the coop 25 ft. from the property line per Council direction. She pointed out that the neighbors were still not happy about the results but with adoption of the amendment there would be some guidelines in place which was not the case when this request was processed.
Chair McCue asked if the item relating to the visibility from the lake is removed, what distance could the structure be placed from the lake.
The Planner stated that a coop not qualifying as an accessory structure with a surrounding garden fence type enclosure would have to be a minimum of 25 ft. from the lake due to the fencing regulations.
Commissioner Hansen questioned if the applicants would still have to have approval from staff for an administrative permit and if there were concerns would staff then refer the matter to Council.
Forester Nayes responded yes; he noted that he and the Planner have the authority to recommend denial of the request. He stated that he discusses concerns with the applicants when he reviews the site for location and other factors.
Commissioner Hendrickson asked if staff wished for any other guidelines to be included or had other concerns.
Forester Nayes commented that the administrative permits expires after one year and can be renewed for an additional three years at no additional cost.
Planner Barness commented that if the City has no reason for concern relating to the permit renewal the fees cover the cost of issuance; however, if there are controversial issues, it could be costly for staff time. She suggested that this matter could be raised with Council during budget discussions.
Chair McCue thanked the Planner for her presentation and opened the public hearing for comments or questions from the floor. She noted there was no one present and closed the public hearing.
Chair McCue stated in her opinion it is better to have parameters when dealing with the administrative permit to provide guidance for staff. The Planner agreed that this small change would provide staff guidelines that may resolve future issues.
Chair McCue questioned if staff does a review of the property once the permit is issued and how often.
Forester Nayes stated that he reviews the permit within one year or if a complaint is received.
Chair McCue asked if there were any further comments and there was no response.
Commissioner Hendrickson moved to recommend approval of an amendment to the animal ordinance to implement locational requirements for non-domestic and farm animals with the following changes:
Section 1.d. To Read: The ability of an animal enclosure to meet the following setback and locational standards (where other setback or locational standards can apply to buildings and structures used for enclosures, the more restrictive requirements shall apply).
d (1) The animal enclosure may not be located closer to the boundary line of an adjacent property than to the principal structure on the animal owner’s property, and not less than 25 ft. from the lot line.”
d (2) ) Maintain a 25 foot setback from a wetland, pond or basin.
d (3) - Moved to d (2)
d(4) – Removed this item.
seconded by Commissioner Schlehuber and carried. (4-0)
Chair McCue commented that it would be her preference that the Forester be required to conduct site visits for each property prior to renewal of the administrative permit.
MISCELLANEOUS: Commissioner Schlehuber noted that there has been cutting in his neighborhood by Kevin of Kevin’s Corner and he asked what is being done with the wood that is removed from the site.
Forester Nayes explained that he had received calls regarding the operation and that it is his understanding the wood is being sold.
Commissioner Schlehuber asked if it was legal to operate this type of business in the City.
The Forester explained that the contractor is providing a service to the landowner, not running a business. He stated it was his understanding the contractor was removing buckthorn form the site.
Commissioner Schlehuber asked if the contractor had the homeowner’s permission and noted that the contractor appears to be clear-cutting without the landowner present.
The Forester responded he received an email from the property owner granting their permission and that he did not see any living trees removed when he inspected the site last year.
Commissioner Schlehuber asked to have a copy of the email and the Forester stated it was personal.
There was discussion relating to whether or not the information could be distributed and the Planner advised that she believed that once the email was received by staff it becomes public information.
The Forester noted that the contractor is currently in the process of cleaning up the site and was sent a letter requesting he do so. He further pointed out that a previous letter to the property owner specified what he is allowed to remove from the site.
Commissioner Schlehuber asked when the letter was sent and stated he wished to have a copy of the letter and the email sent granting permission from the homeowner.
The Forester stated the debris removal letter was sent within the last two weeks and that he was unsure if he still had the email from last year, but he would attempt to find it.
Planner Barness stated she would send a copy of the previous letter to Commissioner Schlehuber.
ADJOURN: Chair McCue asked if there was any further business and there was no response.
Commissioner Hendrickson moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:10 p.m., seconded by Commissioner Hansen and carried. (4-0)
Catherine Iago, City Clerk