December 14, 2015, Work Session Minutes

DECEMBER 14, 2015 – 7:00 PM
Attendance: Hughes, Horton, Pavot, Attorney Beck, Administrator Tolsma, Clerk Lewin. Bren excused.

a. Under the City’s current contract with MNspect, both entities receive 50% of the revenue from over the counter residential maintenance permits (i.e. re-siding, front door replacement, window replacement, re-roofing, & garage door replacement), which means that under the current fee of $38.50 MNspect receives $19.25 and the City receives $19.25. The proposed over the counter permit fee increase to $50 would result in both MNspect and the City receiving $25 for each permit issued. In discussing this issue staff has come up with a proposal for the council to consider to help keep the cost of over the counter maintenance permits minimal, while recognizing that costs for inspection services have increased since the fee was initially set in 2008. This proposal would consist of modifying the contract to specify that MNspect would receive 100% of the revenue from over the counter residential permits and adopting a new fee of $25. Under this option MNspect’s share of revenue will increase to help cover their higher costs for inspection services and the City will simply relinquish any share in the revenue. The City typically issues 40 to 60 residential over the counter permits a year. The lost revenue for the City would equal $1,000 to $1,500 annually. The end result for Spring Park residents would be a net decrease for over the counter permits from the current fee of $38.50 to $25.00.
Williamson said the thrust of the issue is to switch from resolution to ordinance for adoption and secondly there are proposed increased fees for building inspection purposes. He said most of the concerns regard remodeling and impeding home owners from improving their properties. Hughes said he feels government is getting too restrictive. He said home ownership requires maintenance and for some simple repairs he doesn’t think permits should be necessary. He said Maple Grove allows replacement of front doors without a permit as long as the frame is not disturbed. Williamson feels this can discourage some to keep up their properties if there are permitting costs involved. Pavot said she doesn’t feel some of the categories are being broadened. Beck said the state building code is the city’s building code and the city is required to have the building code. She said the city is not allowed to adopt a different building code. She said a decision can be made on what’s charged, however. Hughes firmly believes Mnspect is trying to build more business. He said no one knows what’s required for a building permit. He said he doesn’t know how things can be enforced if they don’t know what’s required. Horton wonders about putting something in the water bill. Williamson said Mnspect does send out a monthly newsletter with changes to the building code. Pavot feels it’s necessary for homeowners to call the city if they have questions. Hughes thinks something should be on the website stating what doesn’t require a building permit. Williamson said he has heard from other communities that had Mnspect for inspections that they are too heavy handed and rigorous. He said Spring Park has had a good experience with Mnspect when comparing to previous inspection services wherein Orono handled inspections and it was more loosely handled. Hughes would like to spend some time researching this with the State, what we can do and how can we communicate with the residents. Beck suggests looking at other fee schedules, for example Minnetonka’s and look to them for comparison. Horton is in favor of keeping fees low for homeowners and keeping homes safe. Pavot is in favor of following the State code. Williamson said this all started with changing the fee schedule to adoption from resolution to ordinance and then Mnspect got involved and raised some fees. Beck said she asked for Mnspect's and the Planner’s review of the fee schedule and since Mnspect has never raised fees since they’ve been with Spring Park, they felt now was the time as costs have gone up. Beck suggested adding a refund section regarding canceling a building permit application that has already been submitted.
Williamson thinks what Horton and Hughes are suggesting is for now to just adopt the language changing this from adoption by resolution to ordinance and do some more research on what other cities charge. Hughes would like to review cities that also have rental inspections too. Williamson said a document should be prepared to adopt at the first meeting in January that simply readopts the fee schedule in the form of an ordinance. The fee changes suggested can be discussed at a further work session.

a. Attached is the City Code section on dock licensing, as well as the annual permit notice and application that is sent out to R-3 properties at the beginning of every year.
Williamson said the history is dock rentals could only be attached to licensed marinas yet some private lakeshore residents wanted to rent out dock space to help with property tax rates. He said leasing dock space out to others was discussed but it was also discussed that this should be available to multi-housing units as well. He said the current ordinance was adopted around 2008 and we were in recession. Multi-housing units suffered at the same time due to rentals being down. Williamson said this presents an opportunity for those who do not live on the lake to have an option of renting out a dock space.

However, he said instead of apartments leasing out their spare slips, some were turning their dock space into money making endeavors. Tolsma read off what multi-housing units have available and how many they will rent out to non residents. Williamson said multi-housing units are not only renting out housing, they are renting out docks as another enterprise. Hughes said multi-housing is required to get a multi-dock license through the LMCD and there is no regulation about where the boat owner resides. He said the LMCD regulates the size of the slips and the setbacks. Williamson said the city charges $200 for an annual dock permit in R-3 zoning district. Williamson said this issue is whether to continue this policy or impose a limit. He said this also impacts parking and he wonders if parking needs can be met when they are renting out all their docks. He said there are two questions, one regarding the policy and the other is what is being charged. Hughes thinks other cities that rent out docks could be consulted to find out what they charge. Beck asked if there have been any complaints. Tolsma said no, not that he’s aware of. Williamson is concerned that dock rental can be so lucrative for the owner that apartment dwellers may be priced out of the rental option. Hughes said the LMCD is concerned about charter services and Ports-of-Call. Williamson thinks residents should have first option on renting a dock. Tolsma asked Pavot if residents get first option on renting docks at Bayview Apartments and Pavot thinks they do. She seems to recall a letter going to the residents asking if they are interested. Beck said a fee increase can be justified if it’s commensurate with the amount of work being done. Williamson reads from the adopted ordinance stating any boat used in the operation of a commercial business is not allowed. Hughes said Tolsma can send a letter stating they’ve rented a slip to a paddle pub and note it is a violation of the city’s ordinance and they must desist. Williamson said if this isn’t stopped now, there will be others that will be wanting to do the same.

Pavot doesn’t see a problem with this. She thinks the dock license could be raised. Williamson thinks the fee should be dependent upon the number of slips rented out. Tolsma said this could be trouble because it now requires honesty and double checking to see that they are honest. He said a flat rate fee seems more enforceable. Hughes would like to do more research with cities that have similar dock rental programs. Williamson is in favor of increasing the fee to perhaps $500 and $50 increments for five docks or more. Tolsma said if there is a violation of the ordinance, there is a fee associated with the violation. He thinks he has enough to go on where he and Beck can work together on this.

3. MISCELLANEOUS – Tolsma said planning commission last week, one commissioner has resigned as he has moved from Spring Park. He said a second commissioner is also moving out of Spring Park in April. Williamson suggests putting out a free notice in The Laker or running an advertisement. He suggests we advertise for one spot with the potential for two.

a. November Fire Department Report – Hughes said fire hours are up by about 100 hours.
b. October Financial Report

Adjourn – 8:35 p.m.

Wendy Lewin, City Clerk

Dan Tolsma, City Administrator