April 9, 2014 Planning Commission Minutes

1. CALL TO ORDER - Chair Jeff Hoffman called the meeting to order at 7 p.m.


3. ROLL CALL - Mason, Struck, Kaczanowski, Tempero, Hoffman

4. ADOPT AGENDA – Mason makes a motion and Struck seconds to adopt the agenda. All votes ayes, motion carries.

5. APPROVAL OF MINUTES Kaczanowski makes a motion and Mason seconds to approve the minutes. All votes ayes, motion carries.
a. Planning Commission Meeting Minutes from March 12, 2014

a. 4336 West Arm Rd. Variance Request Public Hearing –
Brixius said there is a variance application from Joel and Catherine Shoop requesting a sideyard setback variance. He said the current home is legally non conforming but is compliant with the lot width. Brixius said the existing home is non conforming regarding shoreline setback and the west side yard setback is also presently non conforming. Brixius said the proposed site plan is illustrated with the demolition and the new construction. Brixius outlines the proposal on the overhead slide. He said the standard sideyard setback is ten feet. He said grading and drainage issues have been discussed but the applicants want to make sure the variance is approved before more spending is done.

Brixius said variance criteria was discussed with the applicants and an application narrative was provided by them. Their specific claim is the lot condition is unique to the property. Brixius said there is unique topography to the property. He said the proposed use is a side loaded garage and the driveway would slope. Because of the slope of the lot and the side loaded garage, a turning radius is necessary. Brixius said new construction does not have negative impact to a neighborhood. The comprehensive plan looks for continued reinvestment, however proper setbacks are encouraged. Brixius said the west side of the lot is 6% slope and it’s not uncommon. Brixius said the hardship seems to be the way the home is designed. Brixius said a difficult component is the fact that the house could be designed to fit the lot without variance. Brixius said most homes on West Arm Road are non compliant. Brixius said an alternative design could be made to fit the lot without variance. Brixius reminds the commissioners of a variance granted in 2009 for a side yard setback but that lot was 48 feet wide. Brixius said to justify this they must agree the topography provides practical difficulty, overall site design reduces the present non conformity, it is not out of character with the neighborhood. If recommending denial the slope is not excessive, the house design could redesigned. Brixius said a grading and drainage plan needs to be submitted if this variance is accepted. The applicant is reducing the impervious surface and must provide a detail of the impervious design and a maintenance design. Stormwater runoff would be treated before reaching the lake and, if necessary, all plans subject to the city engineer and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed.
Struck asked if this is their primary residence and Shoop responded yes. Mason said without the impervious driveway would they be over and Shoop said they’d be close but at about 31%.

i. Open Public Hearing –
Hoffman opens the public hearing at 7:17 pm. Joel Shoop, 4336 West Arm Road said there has been discussion about the narrowness of the lot and that it is 56 feet and meets the average lot size but he reminds commissioners there is a four foot existing retaining wall that extends into the property. Shoop said one of the points is the front load garage would be reducing the driveway length. He said as a practical use it makes sense to have the longer driveway to maintain off street parking. Shoop said a longer driveway would help with flattening out the driveway so it wouldn’t be as difficult to get out in the winter. Shoop said they are making some significant relief to the lakeshore setback and they are making the sideyard setback better than what is present. He said the alternative is they keep the present structure in place and expand in the conforming part of the lot.

Catherine Shoop, 4336 West Arm Road. She said the additional driveway length improves the space for additional parking. She said the nature of the street and the dead end speaks to a more practical use. Kaczanowski asked about the age of the current structure. Shoop said he’s not sure. Kaczanowski asked about the new house with a front loading garage and wondered if they’ve looked at designs. Shoop said they have but they want a longer driveway because of the slope. Kaczanowski wonders if it would increase hardcover with a front load garage and Shoop said it wouldn’t as they are looking to use pervious pavers anyway. Hoffman said the garage depth is 21.6 and it’s about 31 feet in width. He said if it’s rotated, they would be gaining driveway space instead of losing it. Catherine said the sideload garage makes for better parked vehicle maneuverability. Brixius said the proposed turn radius is tight and really works for smaller vehicles only. Hoffman said if the garage is rotated and they don’t need the sideyard setback they could gain some space by moving the garage slightly closer to the road and he wondered if they considered that. Shoop said they have but are committed to the sideload garage in order accommodate excess parking. Tempero asked if the turning range was tested with a Suburban. Shoop said they did try it. He said it was tight but they were able to do it. Kaczanowski said he likes the photographs and the detail but said when pulling out of the garage, it seems like it would be very tight. He wonders about safety concerns with the front entrance of the house. Shoop said this was worked through and they did expand the garage an additional three feet in consideration of the front entrance. Mason asked whose retaining wall was on the property and Shoop said it was theirs. Kaczanowski wondered about the house flipping over and entering on the west side and Shoop said it was discussed but a variance would still be needed on that side because of the retaining wall. Struck wondered about a detached garage and Shoops said they have considered it. Tempero wonders about the steep slope coming off of the trail and continuing down the hill and running into the house and driveway. Shoop said they’ve considered this as well and are hoping pervious pavers would mitigate some of the drainage and grading plans to slope it away as much as they can. Kaczanowski said the newer design pavers will perhaps still continue the flow in the direction it goes. Shoop said they definitely will have to use some specialists to get the drainage corrected.
ii. Comments/Discussion
Hoffman asked if there was anyone in the audience that wanted to speak. Patricia Diettrich 4334 West Arm Road said she submitted a letter but also wanted to speak. She said she is requesting denial because of the ruling for ten foot side yard. She said she is concerned about the height of the building and is concerned about loss of sunlight and the rain runoff coming off the roof. She said she would like to keep it ten feet on the side yard. She said their yard has a front end load garage and they have room for six cars even being closer to the road. Hoffman makes a part of the record the letter submitted by Diettrich. Bob Diettrich, 4334 West Arm Road asked Shoop about the retaining wall and wondered if it could be removed. Shoop said it really can’t because the neighboring property is right up next to it and it’s not secured but tiered into the lot. Diettrich said he wonders about the proposed driveway and what will happen with all the snow. He said it will all have to be blown away. Diettrich said the drainage affects everyone. He said it’s the city’s problem because of the way it drains. He wants someone to look when it’s raining because it flows right into Palens yard and they end up with a slough in their yard. Diettrich feels Shoop will really have drainage problems. Diettrich said a realtor told him their property could be worth less because of the closeness and the extra shading that will come with the taller house. Catherine Palen, 4352 West Arm Rd, on the other side of Diettrich. Catherine is very pleased that Joel and Catherine are going to build a new home. She said they want them in their neighborhood. However, Catherine said they will deal with drainage issues and it will be bad. She said when it rains, for them, it drains between their and Diettrich's house and pools and percolates in their front yard. She said there will continue to be a water issue until something is done by the city to correct these drainage issues. She wonders if a rain pond can be engineered to adequately handle the runoff but doesn’t think it can be fixed until the city takes care of the runoff. She said the city needs to give some thought to this and help them all out but, especially the Shoops.
iii. Close Public Hearing –
Struck makes a motion and Kaczanowski seconds to close the public hearing at 7:47 pm. Hoffman asked if there were additional questions. Hoffman wants to thank the audience for their comments. He said stormwater management is a big part of what they try to do. Hoffman said there was a large group of citizens from Spring Park who put together the Comprehensive Plan. He said consideration was given to how neighborhoods look. He said they wanted a more open area versus a crammed look. He said this is why the ten yard setbacks are held when they can be. Hoffman is looking for a motion to approve.
iv. Recommendation to Council
Hoffman makes a motion to approve this with the findings of the planner. Struck seconds. Kaczanowski wants to be clear about the findings of the planner. Hoffman said it’s on the summary page. Hoffman is making a recommendation for option one with the findings. Brixius said with option one to please include the four conditions of approval and Brixius would like to add a fifth option that the house be designed with gutters to direct rain and drainage away from the side yard. Hoffman accepts that amendment and Struck accepts the amendment. Struck asked if the motion was to approve option one. Mason, yes. Struck, Kaczanowski, Tempero and Hoffman all vote no. Variance application is denied. Brixius is looking for a vote on Option two with the findings in order to incorporate into a resolution for council because he needs findings for denial. Struck makes a motion to approve option two based on findings of option two and the planners report. Tempero seconds. All votes ayes, motion carries unanimously. Diettrich asked what is option two and Brixius said it's is to deny the variance. Hoffman thanks everyone for their participation in the public hearing.

a. Council Minutes March 3, 2014 -
b. Unapproved Council Minutes March 17, 2014
c. Unapproved Council Work Session Minutes March 24, 2014

• Tolsma handed out the minutes from the park evaluation. Tolsma said he looked at some pricing for a walking path to go around the park. Tolsma said he’s putting this out there for information and the council wants to get the commission back into the park advisory board. Tolsma said the picnic shelter came in at $10-20,000. He said there is a drainage issue so that is listed. Tolsma said he wants the PC to see what is allocated for the park in this year’s budget. He said it’s money that could be worked with and recommendations could be made and presented to the council. Tolsma said this can be a topic in upcoming meetings.
• Mason asked if playground repairs have been made that were suggested. Tolsma said there were some minor repairs made and there are some that still need to be fixed. Struck thinks maintenance is necessary even if it’s not ADA compliant.
• Kaczanowski said he is a Scout leader for Eagle Scout projects and it’s nice to have the list for maybe a project.
• It's decided, weather permitting, to meet at the park a little earlier - such as 6:30. Struck said she can make it at 6:30 and they’ll go to Wilkes Park too.
• Struck said the League of Cities has an entire section on playgrounds and there is a booklet that addresses park standards and things to think about for parks. She said it’s really eye opening and talks about signage, playground equipment, who is the customer. She said it was a good read. Tolsma talks about a recent article in a League magazine and would probably make that a part of next month’s meeting.
• Mason asked about the concerns of West Arm Road. Tolsma said he thinks the wind is blowing and the present council is starting to say that these roads do need attention. Mason said the group that was present tonight have some real and just concerns and drainage has to be addressed. Bren said the water comes off the trail and she wonders if this involves Three Rivers or the Railroad. She said she would like to see a street plan and that might be a good one to start with. Brixius said this is a revolving issue and he thinks a petition should be encouraged so this can be studied. He said the city has very limited space to control. He said West Arm Road is probably 18 feet wide and if there are aging utilities it needs to fixed. He said there has to be a storm water component in order to resolve the larger issue of drainage. Mason said if the drainage problem isn’t corrected and a new house is built on the lot, they will more than likely want the city to correct it once the new house is built. Hoffman said he attended a couple of classes offered by the League and he wondered if they were still offered. He found them very helpful. Tolsma said he will look into this for information and he’ll send it out.

9. ADJOURNMENT – Struck makes a motion and Mason seconds to adjourn at 8:19 p.m. All votes ayes, motion carries.