- DRAFT –

SUNFISH LAKE PLANNING COMMISSIONMEETING – AUGUST 21, 2019

7:00 P.M. – ST. ANNE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH


Attendants:

Chair: Tom Hendrickson

Commissioners: Ginny Beckett, Jeannine Nayes and Dominick Driano
City Planner: Ryan Grittman

City Clerk: Cathy Iago

Commissioner Shannon Nelson was absent

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 Commission Beckett and carried (4-0)

3. APPROVE MINUTES JULY 17, 2019: Chair Hendrickson asked if there were any additions or corrections to the July 17, 2019 Planning Minutes.

Commissioner Nayes referred to the paragraph on page 4 outlining the recommendation of the Commission and noted two minor corrections; Under Item 2. Demolition the sentence should read “2. Demolition projects “where” instead of “were” a building permit has been formally “approved” instead of “approval”…

Chair Hendrickson asked if there were any further corrections and there was no response.

Commissioner Driano moved to approve the July 17, 2019 Planning Commission minutes as corrected, seconded by Commissioner Nayes and carried. (4-0)

4. PUBLIC HEARING: A. Major Site and Building Plan Review, 369 Salem Church Road, James & Sharon Adams: Chair Hendrickson opened the meeting for the purpose of a public hearing for the purpose of reviewing the Major Site and Building Plan for the property located at 369 Salem Church Road. He asked the Planner to review his report.

Planner Grittman referred to his report dated August 14, 2019 and explained the applicants wish to demolish the existing home and construct a new home at approximately the same location on the site. He noted that no Conditional Use Permits or Variances are associated with the request.

The Planner explained that the property is zoned R-1 Single Family Residential and is also located in the Shoreland Overlay Districts. He stated that the application meets all setback requirements for both the R-1 and Shoreland Overlay Districts. He advised that the property consists of 3.91 acres of buildable area, which exceeds the 2.5 acre requirement. He noted that the building height appears to meet the 30 ft. maximum height limit, however, he included a condition of approval that the applicant confirm the building height as proposed on the plan. He advised he spoke to the architect regarding confirmation of the building height.

Planner Grittman stated that only one accessory structure is permitted on the property and any additional structures would require a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). He advised there is currently one accessory structure on the property that the applicant plans to remove, therefore, the swimming pool would be the only accessory structure and would not require a CUP.

The Planner advised that the proposed building materials which include asphalt shingles and stone siding which is cement fiber, are specifically approved as building materials in the City Code. He noted that a thorough review would be done with the building permit application. He stated that the lighting plan included landscape lights and the applicant stated they would update the plan to show some lighting on the garage prior to Council review.

Planner Grittman stated that the City Engineer had reviewed and recommended approval of the grading, drainage and erosion control plans as noted in his report dated July 30, 2019.

The Planner explained that a landscape plan was submitted with the application that shows a total of 77 trees to be removed in the construction zone and 67 trees to be planted in replacement. He stated that the replacement trees include conifers, shade and ornamental trees as replacements. He advised that the City Forester did not recommend any changes to the tree replacement plan, however, the applicant’s landscaper may request a change this evening.

Planner Grittman stated that the existing septic system was recently replaced to serve the existing home and the applicants are proposing to use the existing septic system with the new home. He explained that a condition was included that the applicants must adhere to any conditions recommended by the City Septic Inspector pertaining to the treatment of existing septic areas.

The Planner stated that the proposed driveway would be 15 ft. wide to accommodate emergency vehicles. He further stated that the DNR was notified and sent a copy of the site and building plans and did not offer any comments or concerns. He also explained that notification was sent to neighbors within 1,000 ft. of the subject property and staff did not receive any questions or concerns relating to the project.

Planner Grittman advised that the project is consistent with all City Code requirements and, therefore, staff recommends approval of the request with the seven (7) conditions as listed in the Planner’s report dated August 14, 2019.

Chair Hendrickson thanked the Planner for his report and asked if there were any questions from the Commission. Hearing none, he opened the meeting for comments from the applicant or the public.

Kathy Alexander, Alexander Design Group, stated she submitted the plan which verified the building height at 30 ft. and she also submitted an exterior lighting plan. She offered to respond to questions.


Tim Johnson, Landscape Architect for the project, stated he would propose an option to plant a few very large trees, approximately 21 ft. in height, along the driveway area in order to offset the number of smaller trees that are identified for planting on the site.


Chair Hendrickson explained that there are 67 trees proposed for replanting with the current plan and he questioned if Council and/or the City Forester should determine if less trees would be required for replanting if larger trees are installed. He questioned if the Commission should comment on this or let Council and/or the City Forester decide.

Planner Grittman commented that normally the applicants are asked to work with the City Forester on the landscape plan. He indicated that the Commission could include a condition that the applicant provide a guarantee to replace any trees that die within three (3) years of planting.

Commissioner Beckett asked what size trees the landscaper would plant instead of the smaller trees and the age differential.

Mr. Johnson explained that the replacement trees are usually 2-inch caliper and the larger trees would be approximately 5 to 8 times larger than the 2-inch trees. He noted that it would take 8 to 12 years to provide the screening with the smaller trees.

Commissioner Nayes stated she had no issue with reducing the number and planting the larger trees.

Chair Hendrickson explained that language in the City Code allows the City Forester to determine what plantings should be required and he preferred to leave that determination to the Forester. He further stated that he would support including a condition for a 3-year guarantee from the applicant to replace any dead trees.

Mr. Johnson pointed out that the success rate for survival is usually higher with the larger trees versus the smaller trees. He further noted that the larger trees provide more screening impact.

Chair Hendrickson asked if Mr. Johnson had any concerns if a 3-year replacement guarantee is included as a condition.

Mr. Johnson stated he did not have concerns if the condition was based on reducing the number of replacement trees.

Chair Hendrickson reiterated that the applicant would most likely provide a 3-year replacement guarantee if there are a substantial number of replacement trees removed from the plan.

Commissioner Driano asked if the Commission could leave the matter to the Forester to determine the best course of action.

Chair Hendrickson responded yes and advised that the Commission could provide some direction if they wished to do so.

Chair Hendrickson asked if there was an alternate septic system location on the site.

Tim Setala, Civil Engineer for the applicant, responded yes and showed the location of the alternate septic system on the plan.

Chair Hendrickson asked that a condition be included to require safety fencing installation to protect both the existing and alternate septic system locations until construction is completed.

The Commission concurred to include the safety fencing condition.

Chair Hendrickson asked if there were any further comments or questions and, hearing none, closed the public hearing.

The Chair asked if there was any further discussion from the Commission and there was no response.

Commissioner Driano moved to recommend approval of the Major Site and Building Plan Review for property located at 369 Salem Church Road, subject to the seven (7) conditions as listed in the Planner’s Report dated August 14, 2019 and with an additional condition No. 8 The applicants are required to install safety fencing to protect both the existing and alternate septic system locations until construction is completed, seconded by Commissioner Nayes and carried. (4-0)

5. PUBLIC HEARING: A. Amendment to Major Site and Building Plan Review, 2150 Charlton Road: Chair Hendrickson opened the meeting for the purpose of a public hearing for the purpose of reviewing an Amendment to the Major Site and Building Plan for the property located at 2150 Charlton Road. He asked the Planner to review his report.

Planner Grittman referred to his report dated August 14, 2019 and explained the application was approval by Council at their July 9, 2019 meeting. He noted that since that time the applicant and the applicant and the City found that changes should be made to the approval of grading and drainage plan in order to preserve additional threes that were not shown on the site survey and not accounted for on the site plans. He explained the trees in question are old Oak trees that are estimate at 150 to 200 years old. He further advised that no changes are required for the Conditional Use Permit (CUP).

The Planner advised that the City Zoning Ordinance requires applicants to resubmit plans when changes are proposed. He stated the applicant is proposing to change the drainage plan, which will result in the removal of two trees, whereas the original plan would have retried the removal of an estimated seven to nine trees. He noted that the City Engineer recommended that the revised plan be resubmitted to the Commission and Council for review and approval.

Planner Grittman further explained that the new building height calculation was also in questions and that he had been working with the architect on the project to request the building height be reduced to meet the 30 ft. height requirement. He advised that all other items in the application have not changed.

The Planner stated that staff recommends approval of the amendment with the four (4) conditions as listed in the Planner’s report dated August 14, 2019. He further advised that both the original and revised plans were submitted to the DNR and the City received no response on either plan. He stated that notices were sent to property owners and one only resident asked to view an updated site plan.

Chair Hendrickson asked if the architect’s height calculation is taller than staff’s calculation for the building height.

The Planner responded yes and stated that the project architect provided a calculation of 984.158 ft. and staff calculated the height at 983.59 ft. He explained that it is his opinion the gables could be slightly reduced to meet the 30 ft. height requirement.


Commissioner Beckett asked if the property owner was present and had any objections to slightly reducing the gables.

Eric Weiss, applicant and property owner, explained that it would be extremely costly to redo the gables and that he would be reducing the number of trees to be removed by changing the plans to accommodate the drainage.

Gabriel Williams, Architect with Eskuche Design Group, explained she had discussed the height calculation with the Planner and was provided a chart from the City which showed how to calculate the building height using two (2) corners of the building to find the average. She stated that based on the guidelines provided from City staff, she calculated the height at 985.5 which is 28.3-3/4 ft.


Chair Hendrickson asked the Planner how he measured the height.

Planner Grittman explained that he measured the building height from all four (4) corners to determine the average.

Chair Hendrickson explained that he had this issue when he constructed his home and requested a height variance which the City denied. He noted that once the final grade was completed on his home, the height would have been compliant. He further stated that he was told to use all four corners of the home to find the average height calculation, which was 20 years ago.

Commissioner Beckett asked where Ms. Williams obtained the document to make the calculations.

Chair Hendrickson explained that the document was part of the “Design Guidelines” that are distributed with the application materials from the City staff. He asked if the Commission had any comments.

Planner Grittman stated that all previous applicants were told to measure all four corner of the structure to find the average height.


Commissioner Nayes pointed out that it appears the materials in the guidelines are contradictory to what staff had told applicants.

Commissioner Driano noted that the architect’s calculations place the building height 1-1/2 ft. lower than the 30 ft. requirements and the staff calculation place the height 2-inches over the requirement.

Mr. Weiss commented that it would be costly to redesign the structure and that the height issue only arose due to the changes in order to save the trees.

Ms. Williams showed the Commission the corners of the structure and noted that if she used the garage, which is not living space, but is one of the highest points on the land, it would increase the height calculation.

Chair Hendrickson explained that due to the dispute in the method to calculate the height requirement, he would prefer to have Council make a decision on how to proceed with this mater. He noted that the applicant could apply for a variance, however, it may be difficult to define a hardship. He stated he would also recommend to Council that clarification of how to calculate the height should be included in the Zoning Ordinance in the future.

Commissioner Nayes commented that she is struggling with the issue since it was not clear to the applicant how to calculate the height and also based on the fact that the changes would also preserve more trees.

Commissioner Beckett explained that she was uncomfortable with the fact that the height calculations could be interpreted two difference ways.

There was discussion regarding whether or not to condition the Commission recommendation on the applicant’s submission of the height calculation.

Ms. Williams stated that she submitted the height calculation to the Planner based on the information she was provided from City staff.


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

Chair Hendrickson moved to recommend approval of the Amendment to the Major Site and Building Plan for property located at 2150 Charlton Road subject to the conditions as listed in the Planner’s Report dated August 14, 2019 and acknowledging the Commission accepting the project Architect’s calculation for the height of the structure at 28 ft. 3-3/4-inches meets the City’s height requirement as listed in the Zoning Ordinance, seconded by Commissioner Beckett and carried. (4-0)

6. Public Hearing: A. Zoning Ordinance Update – Demolition Permits: Chair Hendrickson opened the meeting for the purpose of a public hearing for the purpose of reviewing a Zoning Ordinance Update to include Demolition Permits in the Zoning Code. He asked the Planner to review his report.

Planner Grittman referred to his report dated August 14, 2019 and explained that staff was unable to confirm that the public hearing notice for the demolition ordinance was properly published and, therefore, published a notice of public hearing for review this evening. He stated that he had made the updates as recommended by the Commission at their last meeting. He advised that the Commission may pass the document to Council as is or may make further changes if deemed necessary.

Commissioner Nayes referred to a minor correction under Section A.2. The word “approval” should be changed to “approved’.

Chair Hendrickson referred to Section A.3. The Demolition Permit shall be limited to 90 days from the date of approval. He suggested that the wording “..90 days from date of approval” be changed to “.. 90 days from date of issuance” since the applicant may not get the permit on the same date approval is granted.

There was discussion relating to Section D. Escrow regarding there or not the ordinance should more clearly define “the area restoration”.

Planner Grittman explained that he purposely left the restoration language vague in order to allow staff to determine what type of restoration should be done based on each individual site.


Chair Hendrickson asked if there were any further questions or comments and, hearing none, closed the public hearing.

Commissioner Nayes moved to recommend approval of the Demolition Ordinance with the corrections as noted, seconded by Commissioner Beckett and carried. (4-0)

OTHER/NEW BUSINESS: Chair Hendrickson suggested that staff prepare a Zoning Ordinance amendment that defines the correct procedure for calculating the building height and prepare a different design guideline for distribution to applicants so there is no confusion in the future. He asked if it should be the responsibility of the staff to do the calculations or if it should be the surveyor’s responsibility to calculate the height.

Planner Grittman stated he would research whether or not it would be appropriate to amend the Zoning Ordinance or just update the definition of how to measure in the Design Guidelines. He stated it would be easier to have an architect or surveyor do the calculations since they have access to CAD software. He noted he found other changes to update procedures and minor changes to the application checklist, which require an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance, and he could include the height calculation as part of those proposed amendments.

Chair Hendrickson noted that the Planning Commission has the authority to set a public hearing to make Zoning Ordinance Amendments, but his preference would be to have Council direct the Commission to do so and have staff discuss it with Council. The Commission concurred that staff should discuss any proposed changes with Council rather than the Commission initiating the matter.

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

Commissioner Driano moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:05 p.m., seconded by Chair Hendrickson and carried. (4-0)

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.