July 10, 2013 Planning Commission Minutes

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


3. ROLL CALL – Mason, Struck, Erickson, Hoffman. Kaczanowski excused. Administrator Tolsma, Clerk Lewin, Planner Brixius and Philip Johnson of Tonka Ventures also present.

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

5. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – Struck makes a motion and Mason seconds to approve the minutes. All votes ayes, motion carries.
a. Planning Commission Meeting Minutes from June 12, 2013

a. NAC Memo Regarding Tonka Ventures Parking Request – Brixius described the Tonka Ventures location where the trucking/loading docks are located. He said since 1997 the business has grown and employee parking has been using the loading area which is also the truck maneuvering area. Brixius illustrated the existing curb cut, the landscaped boulevard providing separation from Warren Avenue and the concrete turn pad. He said the original intent was for trucking and staging and not using Warren Avenue. Brixius said Phil Johnson is the architect for the project. He said they are proposing a change to the trucking area to adapt to head-in parking. They want to remove the boulevard and backing out issues would be into the public right-of-way. Brixius said the heavier truck traffic off of Warren Avenue needs to be still considered. He said the ordinance would require multiple variances. He said the parking regulations prohibit backing into the right-of-way, the boulevard area is prohibited for parking and would also need a variance. Brixius stated the city wants to encourage growth. He said the objective is to keep the trucks off Warren Avenue but relief would be provided for parking.

Brixius said another design presented would provide angle parking by preserving the curb line and the truck space would share with the angled parking. He said the southern curb line would be preserved. Philip Johnson said he has been with Joel Buttenhoff for twenty years and he’s worked with the development processes all along. He said diagonal parking does not improve space. Johnson said he’s not sure how many trucks go in and out during the day. He said truck parking could be accommodated along with the angle parking but acknowledges there may be some overlap. Johnson feels the trees could be relocated. Johnson said he has looked at both the bituminous and concrete area on the roadway and doesn’t notice any wear and tear on either one or the other. Johnson said the goal is to get increased parking for employees and closer to the building.

Erickson asked about the north side of the building where the trail is. Johnson said the property line goes right up to the building. Hoffman said striping is usually a suggestion but isn’t always followed. Erickson wonders about a trucker testing this out to see if it’s doable. Hoffman said he’s a former trucker and feels it is tricky maneuvering. Brixius said there isn’t a parking setback so it might be worthwhile to establish a 14 foot loading area on the north side and parking stalls on the south side. Mason said the photograph on Exhibit A shows four cars parked and he wonders how a truck can maneuver in there. Brixius said he’s going to assume a truck would have had to use the roadway. Brixius said what should be established is keeping the trucks off and the wear and tear turn protected. Struck remembers there are a lot of trees along there but it isn't obvious on the overhead. Brixius said either curb, north or south, trees will be lost. Struck asked about snow removal. She said it could complicate the parking with regard to snow storage and keeping it cleared. Hoffman said Brixius is asking about the concern about truck maneuvering on Warren Avenue. Struck said if the business is positioned for growth and they need more parking spaces, she wonders about the growth of truck traffic as well. Struck doesn’t like the idea of removing trees. Mason asked how many stalls they trying to gain and Brixius said 9-10. Mason wonders if that’s going to accomplish the growth plans and he agrees with Struck about the trees. He said the idea is to keep the trucks off the road to prevent wear and tear.

Erickson said he believes in working with the business owners. He said there are issues with trucks backing onto main roads and it creates hazards and traffic stoppage. Hoffman said the 1997 decision for no maneuvering on the street should be maintained and that is the consensus. He said there doesn’t seem to be any major issues about traffic backing onto Warren as it’s already done on Warren Avenue in front of City Hall and it’s done on other city streets. Brixius said this will have to have multiple variances but he wants to make sure the PC is comfortable with the plan before this gets taken to the application process. Struck thinks this does come under practical difficulties because it’s limited space and the business has changed so it seems practical. Hoffman said he is adamant about a physical barrier versus striping. He said if the northern curb is pushed to the property line there could still be a physical barrier maintained. Mason asked how many variances would be necessary and Brixius said it could go as high as five. Mason wonders about restoration and wants that considered. Brixius said this might be cost prohibitive to the property owner. Johnson wonders about some parking spots in what is now the grassy area on the west side of the building. He said he might propose that with the owner as an option.

a. Council Minutes June 17, 2013
b. Work Session Minutes June 24, 2013

a. Eagle Scout Project Ideas – Tolsma said the mayor was contacted recently by an individual hoping to complete a public project (i.e. building a park bench, water fountain, or public garden) in Spring Park to earn his Eagle Scout rank. He said if any commissioners have a good idea for a project and would like to bring it up for discussion at the meeting, please do so. Tolsma said he had some discussion with the candidate’s father. Tolsma said he asked them to describe the type or project they’re looking for and they wondered about a historic-type plaque depicting the history of Spring Park along the trail. Tolsma said staff suggested a picnic shelter in the park. He said the candidate is apparently artistic and they are hoping several options can be presented and they can pick. Brixius said Eagle projects are to benefit the community and show leadership. He suggests the city think about what they would like. He said the projects are always well done. Mason suggests at Thor Thompson Park on the south side by Jackie Stone’s house, there is a suggestion for a memorial bench or garden in her memory. He said ideas have been a bench, a stone or a plaque in her memory. Brixius said a paver path or butterfly garden would be a nice idea. Struck asked if there was water at the park and Mason said there is a drinking fountain. She wondered about a dog watering spot that relates to Jackie’s love of dogs. Mason said there are funds available for this from friends of Jackie. Mason said he would be willing to follow through on funding sources.

9. ADJOURNMENT – Erickson makes a motion and Mason seconds to adjourn the meeting at 7:57 p.m. All votes ayes, motion carries.