May 8, 2019 Planning Minutes

MAY 8, 2019 – 6:00 PM

1. CALL TO ORDER - The meeting was called to order by Chair Hoffman at 6:09 p.m.

2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE – Chair Hoffman led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.


Planning Commissioners Present: Jeff Hoffman, Chair, Max Avalos (arrived 6:07 p.m.); Bruce Homan, Michael Mason, and Pete Kaczanowski

Staff Present: Dan Tolsma, City Administrator; Al Brixius, City Planner; Scott Qualle, Building Official (arrived 6:30 p.m.); David Anderson, Assistant City Attorney; and Theresa Schyma, City Clerk.


M/Mason, S/Kaczanowski to approve the agenda.

Motion carried 5-0.

a. Planning Commission Meeting Minutes from March 13, 2019

M/Avalos, S/Kaczanowski to approve the minutes.

Motion carried 5-0.

a. Short-Term/Rental Licensing Public Hearing
i. Introductory Comments – City Planner Al Brixius

City Planner Brixius presented a summary of the proposed rental housing ordinance for short-term and long-term rental properties in Spring Park as well as the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC). He stated that feedback is valuable and important to this process.

Josh Clemons, 2486 Black Lake Road and operator of a long-term and short-term rental, asked for clarification on how the IPMC will address older homes.

City Planner Brixius responded that the building code addresses age of structure and the IPMC is for safety features. The IPMC has easily measurable standards for safety and is not meant to be arduous or overbearing.

Mr. Clemons asked City staff where the complaints were coming from.

City Administrator Tolsma responded that a majority of complaints are received from long-term tenants. Staff typically receive approximately 2-4 complaints per month and they are usually from the same handful of properties.

Merv Berkland, renter at Bayview Apartments – 2400 Interlachen Road, asked why the City doesn’t just handle the few complaints it gets per month instead of enacting a new rental licensing ordinance.

City Administrator Tolsma responded that the complaints received are for life safety issues and there is currently nothing in the City Code that allows staff to help address those major issues.

ii. Open Public Hearing

Chair Hoffman opened the public hearing at 6:35 p.m.

iii. Receive Public Comments

Josh Clemons, 2486 Black Lake Road and operator of a long-term and short-term rental, thanked City staff and the Planning Commission for their time working on this project. He stated that there is a lot of talk about safety issues but also talk of aging housing stock so he wanted to know if this ordinance is really about changing the population so that newer and bigger houses add to the tax base. He added that he is glad short-term rental properties are being considered in the City but said nuisance issues are hearsay.

Building Official Qualle discussed the differences between the building code and IPMC; the building code is based on when the house was built. The IPMC is not going to make you build a new house or force major upgrades of a house unless there is a major life safety issue.

Mr. Clemons wants clarification on how required parking is going to be determined. He also asked about flexibility with those requirements including if he would be able to rent a parking spot from a neighbor to help meet those requirements.

City Planner Brixius responded that part of the rental licensing process would require submittal of a site plan that would include parking details. He added that if someone is requesting to use a rented parking spot to meet minimum requirements then the landlord would need to provide a copy of the written parking agreement with that neighbor.

Chair Hoffman responded to Mr. Clemons regarding his comments about the City wanting to replace older homes with newer, bigger homes to add to the tax base. He stated that while the City’s long-range plan was being discussed during the 2040 Comprehensive Plan process the City’s guidelines are to try and keep the City quaint and embrace older homes.

Bud Groth, resident and owner of 4467 & 4469 Lafayette Lane, commended the Planning Commission on the process and reaching out to residents. He added that he is happy the City is moving forward and considering allowing short-term rentals. He stated that it is important for the City to safeguard renters since we live in such a litigious society; if anything happened at a rental property someone would come after the City. He further stated that he has had some nightmare situations with renters but looks forward to working with the City on his rental properties and will abide by the rules.

City Planner Brixius discussed “mother-in-law” apartments and stated family arrangements are excluded from the rental licensing process.

Merv Berkland, renter at Bayview Apartments – 2400 Interlachen Road, stated there are definitely good landlords and bad landlords but the renters will ultimately be the ones to pay if the City creates a rental licensing program. The expenses will be passed on to renters and if rents are raised too much, people will need to move away from the City. He added that he enjoys living in Spring Park but he’s concerned about increases to his rent simply due to licensing fees. He stated he understands the City needs a rental ordinance since there currently isn’t anything in place but instead of charging good landlords, charge more for each offense to make the bad landlords pay for neglecting their properties.

Building Official Qualle stated that situations with one lodger/roommate would be exempt from rental licensing. A roommate is determined to be someone who is sharing all living spaces with the homeowner and there is no separate area for rental.

Anton Reder, owner of 3946 and 3948 Shoreline Drive and short-term rental operator, stated he has considered stopping his short-term rental business because it is extremely hard to operate but stated he would face a tremendous financial hardship if short-term rentals would be banned.

City Planner Brixius stated the potential start of rental licensing would be in 2020.

Mark Kozikowski, owner/landlord of Minnetonka Edgewater Apartments at 4177 Shoreline Drive, stated he is in favor of rental licensing but is curious to how the proposed fees were calculated and discussed the potential for a tiered rental licensing system similar to Minneapolis. A tiered system recognizes responsible landlords and helps manage problem rental properties.

Chair Hoffman responded that the City cannot charge fees that generate income so the fees will be adjusted as needed to make sure the City is simply breaking even.

Rick Gorra, 8201 Stone Creek Drive, Chanhassen, and owner/landlord of Park Island Apartments, stated he is a Tier 1 landlord in Minneapolis but said his tenants have serious concerns about violations of privacy by allowing inspections. He added that he believes the building inspector is allowed too much discretion since he doesn’t believe the IPMC is black and white. He questioned the calculation of fees including charging landlords for re-inspection fees. He stated that the inspectors will always find some issues at older buildings and that if the inspections are going to force major upgrades then the costs associated will eventually be passed on to the renters.

Danny Lemke, 3812 Park Lane, stated that he bought his property because it has a “mother-in-law” cottage so that he could grow his business and make his mortgage payments at the same time. He stated that he makes sure his buildings are safe so he doesn’t understand why the government is stepping in when it is up to owners to maintain their properties. He added that he is not opposed to standards but asked about the proposed ordinance language that discusses City inspections without a warrant. He does not agree with language that says because he is renting out private property he is basically agreeing to warrantless searches.

City Planner Brixius responded that the intent of the language is for right of access and not a warrantless search. He stated he will revisit that language and present options to the Planning Commission.

Building Official Qualle also responded to Mr. Lemke’s comments that all landlords should be focused on safety; he stated that he has inspected many single-family homes where even children are living in extremely unsafe conditions. He added that unfortunately most laws are written because people, even parents, aren’t applying basic standards of life, health, and safety. The intent of the ordinance is to focus on basic safety issues to protect lives.

Lindsey Olson, manager of Bayview Apartments at 2400 Interlachen Road, stated she is on board with having standards in place but questions the proposed fees. She stated that if the City is going to enact rental licensing then she would be more in favor of a tiered system like Minneapolis or Golden Valley to help landlords be good partners with the City. She added that her residents are concerned about violations to their privacy when they don’t feel that their apartment has any safety issues. She asked if it was possible to only inspect a percentage of units to help create a better partnership. She added that it would help landlords as well because trying to schedule over 100 apartments for inspections would be extremely difficult to manage. She is hoping the ordinance and fees can be refined because landlords would need to pass along those costs to the tenants.

City Planner Brixius responded he would be in favor of a tiered system to reward good landlords for their partnership and a tiered system would potentially reduce fees and save staff time.

CJ Lunning, resident and owner of 4564 & 4568 West Arm Road, asked how long would the entire ordinance process would take.

City Planner Brixius responded that the ordinance will take time but could potentially be adopted by City Council in September. After that staff would need time to put the program in place, schedule inspections, and notify all parties involved but stated a potential start date could be April 2020.

Mr. Clemons stated that he doesn’t think rentals in single-family homes should be forced to follow the same standards as corporate condominiums. He believes multi-family buildings should be held to a higher standard.

Chair Hoffman responded that in multi-family buildings the common areas would have different standards than a single-family home but each individual unit should be held to the same standard.

Building Official Qualle added an example stating that the Fire Code standards are different for larger buildings but each individual unit would have the same standards.

David Segal, owner of Bayview Apartments at 2400 Interlachen Road, stated he is required by his insurance to go through annual inspections but even the insurance company doesn’t require inspection of every individual apartment.

Ms. Olson added that that some units are inspected but the landlords get to choose the units. The inspections are held to a high standard but might not be as in-depth as an inspection conducted by Building Official Qualle.

Building Official Qualle discussed the appeals process which would be in place in case any concerns arise from the inspections process.

Mr. Berkland stated that all of the licensing fees will eventually be passed on to the renters and wants to make sure the bad landlords in the City pay the majority of the fees since they are causing the majority of the complaints.

Mr. Kozikowski added that a tiered rental licensing program incentivizes everybody to maintain their properties and be in the top tier; it doesn’t penalize, it incentivizes. He added that since insurance companies require inspections it would be advantageous to be able to coordinate with the City when scheduling inspections so that renters are not overly inconvenienced.

Ms. Lunning asked if there would be a timeframe to fix any issues discovered during an inspection.

City Planner Brixius stated that landlords will have time to correct any issues identified during the inspection process. He added that major life safety issues would have more urgency than more routine maintenance items.

Sandra Johnson, owner of rental properties at 3950 Sunset Drive, asked if re-inspection fees would be charged if corrections are needed because they don’t charge for re-inspection fees at her other property in Wayzata.

Building Official Qualle responded that the level of re-inspection would depend on the issue; some correction items can be fixed with a photograph or a simple correction notice without a needing another inspection. He added that re-inspections would definitely be necessary in regards to any life, health, or safety issues. He further stated that all landlords will receive copies of the ordinance and checklist prior to inspection so they should already have any major issues resolved before their inspection.

Mr. Kozikowski suggested the potential of not charging re-inspection fees during the first year of licensing so that landlords have a year to get used to the licensing and inspection system in Spring Park.

The Planning Commission consensus was to look at language changes and make edits at the June 12 meeting and continue the public hearing to the July 10 meeting for additional public comment on any updates to the draft ordinance.

City Planner Brixius stated he will look at revising several sections of the proposed ordinance and present options to the Planning Commission including language regarding primary residence, warrantless searches, relative exclusions, and clarifying roommate exemption situations; time allowed for corrections to any issues discovered during the inspections process; and the inclusion of a tiered system with new fees and length of license to incentivize landlords and focus on problem properties.

City Administrator Tolsma announced that three written comments were received from residents prior to the public hearing that were forwarded to the Planning Commission. Written comments were received from:

• Jeff & Sharon Gleason, 3940 Shoreline Drive
• Sarah Reinhardt, 4490 West Arm Road
• Richard & Kay McCollum, 4372 West Arm Road

iv. Close or Table Public Hearing

M/Avalos, S/Mason to continue the public hearing to the July 10 Planning Commission Meeting.

Motion carried 5-0.

v. Discussion

vi. Table for Future Discussion or Recommend to Council


a. Park Plaque Information Provided by the Westonka Historical Society

Chair Hoffman asked if a plaque company could provide the Planning Commission with a rendering.

City Administrator Tolsma responded yes, if the Planning Commission is in agreement with the text then staff can have a rendering prepared with the options available.

The Planning Commission directed staff to move forward with the proposed text and have renderings of the plaques prepared.


M/Homan, S/Avalos to adjourn the Planning Commission Meeting at 7:50 p.m.

Motion carried 5-0.

Date Approved: June 12, 2019

Dan Tolsma, City Administrator

Theresa Schyma, City Clerk