February 23, 2015 Work Session





FEBRUARY 23, 2015 – 7:00 PM



Those Present:  Williamson, Hughes, Bren, Horton, Beck, Tolsma, Lewin


  1. Fee Schedule Discussion
    1. Attached for review is the memo from the January 5th council meeting. At that meeting the council decided to discuss the issue more in depth at a future work session. Also attached is a breakdown of individual conditional use/variance/sign permits issued in the past three years.

Williamson said the real question is whether to leave things as they are or to make changes, incremental or one big corrective change.  Tolsma said sign permits average cost is $240 and the city charges $75, so the costs aren’t being covered but it isn’t huge.  Hughes wonders where the costs are coming from.  Tolsma said for large monument signs it’s more detailed review.  Hughes wonders about two fee levels, one under $100 for signs on a building, is part of a plan and a no-brainer and, the other being a monument sign which requires more detail.  Tolsma said that might be an idea.  Williamson said monument signs are structures. He wonders if there is a legal basis for a surcharge for complex structures.  Beck suggests newly constructed signs be assigned a higher fee wherein existing signage is a lower amount.  Tolsma said maybe it’s the same fee permit but new monument signs require a higher escrow.  Williamson asked about refreshed signage and it’s considered maintenance.  The premise is to leave the fee as it is but add an escrow for a newly constructed monument or pylon sign. Hughes asked if Spring Park Auto still has the pylon sign in place because they added a monument sign.  Lewin explained the owner felt the trees planted by the city blocked his sign so he needed to go to a monument sign.  Williamson suggests increasing the escrow provision where signs are more complex, i.e. monuments, pylon, dynamic, than just a sign. Beck will look at the ordinance to see if a resolution is all that is necessary.  Horton thinks $500 for the escrow is a good number.  Williamson said in looking at the highest costs for signs, $500 seems to be a valid amount. 


Williamson moves on to CUP costs and wonders about raising the fees modestly.  Hughes feels the escrow should be raised.  Beck said variances are usually more complicated processes as CUP's are conditions that must be met.  Tolsma wonders about a flat rate escrow for all three, signs, variances and CUP's.  Williamson said he is more concerned about the use of CUP in a residential district.  He thinks it doesn’t belong in a residential zone as it’s more of a commercial use.  Hughes wonders about conditional uses in a residential district such as a marina.  Beck said conditional use is permitted if it meets all conditions set out in the ordinance.  Williamson thinks applications should be discouraged in residential areas.  Tolsma wonders about bumping the residential CUP fee up as a way of discouraging.  Williamson said variance approval must come from the council.  It’s their discretion.  Conditional uses are granted if conditions are met.  Williamson wonders about making an adjustment on variances and he suggests increasing the escrow to $500.  Hughes thinks $1000 for the escrow is more reasonable.  Williamson said he is concerned about those who want to make minor changes and thereby discouraging applicants because of the escrow. Tolsma makes a suggestion to increase the escrow to $500 while making it clear to applicants that if costs exceed collected fees (fee + escrow), the city will invoice applicant for the difference. It’s suggested there should also be fees based upon the number of variances applied for.


  1. Water Treatment Update
    1. Staff will give the council an update on the status of the water treatment plant upgrades.

Tolsma said not to get too bogged down with this.  He said the final plan is getting close.  He said there is an aerial drawing in the handout.  Tolsma explains where the proposed expansion will be.  He pointed out where the clear well is underground.  He said there are two small additions, one a vestibule and a larger expansion in the back.  Tolsma said the treatment area will be the actual aeration.  He said a small restroom and a storage room are also part of the plan.  Williamson assumes flow rates and levels will have to be coordinated with the upgrade.  Hughes wonders about the structure being built and protecting the clear well.  Tolsma said additional measures are being taken to protect the clear well.  Tolsma said this has been reviewed by engineers.  Hughes asked about additional room for future storage.  Tolsma said this proposal is the largest they were able to negotiate.  He said there is a bid option to increase but it’s been made clear to not delay the project. 


Williamson wonders when the next step comes and when it goes out to bid.  Tolsma said this draft just went out to parties involved MPCA, MDH, City, AECOM today and there is another meeting next week to incorporate details.  Williamson is looking for a timeline in order to do city planning.  Hughes wonders about the aquifer testing and Tolsma said he hasn’t received those results but it doesn’t have any bearing on what’s being done. Williamson asked about the full grant for costs and Tolsma said it’s still a go.  Williamson doesn’t want to get a bill in the end.  Tolsma said this is getting very defined every day and now that the project scope is close, this is coming to a good estimate.  Tolsma said the ongoing O&M costs after the first year is the unknown.  Hughes wonders about future budgeting for replacement costs and repairs and wants to make sure this is considered in the future. 


  1. Oktoberfest Special Event
    1. Lord Fletcher’s Restaurant is already preparing for their Oktoberfest special event. While they changed the event to cover two days last year, they are proposing to go back to just one day for 2015. They would like to have the council take action on the application as soon as possible so that they can book musicians. If the council does not have any major concerns with the special event permit will be on the agenda for March 2nd.

Tolsma said this is a reduction from last year’s request from two days to one day.  He said they need to book the musical act now and they’re looking for approval.  Conditions are changing to a longer day than last year.  Horton said she thinks because it only goes to 7 p.m., it’s tolerable.  Williamson suggests if there are any changes, council needs to convey to Tolsma as this will be on Monday night’s council agenda. 




    1. Fire Department Press Release – Williamson said there is some Save the Lake money to make improvements.       He said there was an incident with individuals stuck at the Lakeview Lofts and a gas leak at the 4100 Shoreline Dr building and he wonders what this was about.
    2. Channel 8 & Channel 20 Schedules
    3. LMCD – Hughes said there is an procedure for evaluating the LMCD staff. Greg Nybeck’s evaluation is due and he wonders what the city’s thoughts are.       Tolsma and Lewin said they find him very easy to work with and responsive. Williamson agrees and said the very few times he has encountered Nybeck he has been helpful and informative. Williamson said he was disturbed by some of the comments he viewed on tape recently alluding to proposed changes coming.       He said there are statutory regulations because of joint powers agreements held. Hughes said the LMCD hasn’t looked at objectives, mission statement and the future for a long time but they’ve started working on this recently. Williamson said the State has a keen interest in making sure decisions are made equitably. He’s concerned about the parallels with staff reviews and the LMCC and the Watershed District recently. He is concerned about these changes being made without proper feedback from member cities.  


Meeting ended at 9:20 p.m.



Wendy Lewin, City Clerk



Dan Tolsma, City Administrator