January 26, 2015 Work Session






JANUARY 26, 2015 – 7:00 PM


Attendance: Williamson, Bren, Horton, Tolsma, Beck, Kermis. Hughes excused.



  1. BUCO Discussion
    1. Bob Kermit from NAC Planning will be in attendance to discuss if the council is willing to consider some form of a business licensing policy, commonly known as a Business Use Certificate of Occupancy (BUCO). The planning commission has been discussing the need for some sort of policy that will allow the City to better know what businesses are in Spring Park. Staff has recommended that the city council determine if they would also be in favor of a new policy before having the planning commission put in the work required to develop a new policy as it would ultimately be a waste of time for them if the council is not on the same page. Included is an example of a BUCO from the City of New Hope that is similar to what has been recommended from planning staff.


Bob Kermis explains that the desire for a BUCO came about from discussions that the planning commission had over the past several months while discussing a related manufacturing ordinance amendment. Tolsma explains that the purpose of the discussion for tonight is simply for the council to decide whether or not there was interest on the part of the council in pursuing a BUCO or something similar. Tolsma notes that the planning commission has already had several discussions regarding a potential BUCO and are interested in continuing to pursue development of a policy that would fit Spring Park’s situation, but that City Planner Al Brixius recommended that before continuing any further the council be given an opportunity to provide feedback regarding whether or not they would also be in favor of doing something along similar lines.


Williamson says that the areas that are currently zoned manufacturing were dilapidated at one time and that they have been significantly improved by the current owner, and that he thinks it makes sense for the City to be flexible when considering the future use of the manufacturing districts, however, he also sees the need for having some way of knowing what is going on in Spring Park, especially in light of the current situation the city is experiencing with TCE being detected in the groundwater. Horton wonders if the city can just send city staff to inspect sites that might have hazardous materials. City Attorney Beck says that the city would need a reasonable cause for going into a business and performing an inspection, which is why something like a BUCO is helpful because it gives the city the necessary authority to carry out such inspections. Bren says that she knows people that have businesses in their homes who have to comply with licensing and inspections and that she doesn’t feel that this is too much of a burden for businesses.


Beck thinks that educating business owners will be a key component of a BUCO and that the city will be relying on voluntary compliance to a certain degree. Kermis brings up the issue of keeping the cost for business down and how important that is in having a successful BUCO policy. Tolsma notes that in the planning commission’s discussions they have generally been in agreement about the importance of having a low fee. Williamson wonders how many businesses are in Spring Park. Tolsma thinks that the number is somewhere around 75 to 100, but isn’t sure. Williamson wonders if this is something that would need to be applied to every business, or if exceptions could be made for office businesses, as an example. Beck thinks that it would be difficult to exempt certain businesses, and that it would still be important to have everyone participating because one of the main goals of having a BUCO is to simply know what businesses are in Spring Park. Williamson asks Tolsma how many businesses have a history of giving city staff trouble. Tolsma says that there are probably less than 10 businesses in the city that he deals with on a regular basis, and that for the most part the vast majority of businesses are complying with all applicable zoning provisions.


Beck thinks it’s important to remember that for a long time the city has discussed implementing some sort of registration so that the city can spotlight new or existing businesses. Tolsma agrees and thinks that the city newsletter could be used for letting residents know what new businesses have recently come to Spring Park. Williamson thinks it is pretty clear that the city council is interested in doing something, although there are many questions that still need to be answered and that he is looking forward to seeing what the planning commission puts together.



  1. Park Island Apartments Discussion
    1. Included for review is a memo from the City’s Building Official Scott Qualle regarding Park Island Drive Apartments. Scott notes in his memo that the proposed repairs of the garage have never been made. He is also concerned that the proposed repairs are not sufficient considering the extent of damage to the garage. To address his concerns about the condition of the garage and the appropriate scope of repairs that are needed Scott has recommended that the City hire a structural engineer to inspect the structure and provide a report of their findings. For this purpose Scott has solicited several quotes from numerous structural engineers to inspect the garage. Upon completion of the inspection the hired engineer will provide a report with a recommended scope of work for repairs if necessary.


Tolsma gave a brief background of the interactions between the city and property owner of Park Island Apartments, and noted that the city’s building inspector Scott Qualle has commented that the property owner has not completed repairs that were originally proposed in early 2014. Tolsma also explains that Qualle is not comfortable with the original scope of repairs and has concerns about the expertise of the engineer that signed off on the owner’s proposed scope repairs. Tolsma says that Qualle has proposed having the city hire a structural engineer on its own behalf to inspect the garage structure and provide a report that would either confirm or deny that the scope of work recommended by the property owner is adequate. Tolsma explains that staff has already solicited estimates from several structural engineers and that it has been narrowed down to two different engineering firms with an estimated cost of $4,200 for either firm.


Williamson asks about the legality of pursuing such a proposal. Beck explains that in her opinion Qualle has the necessary authority under the building code to bring in his own experts when he feels it is necessary. Beck also explains that if the inspector hired by the city finds that the original scope of repairs proposed by the property owner is in fact adequate, then the city would not pursue reimbursement for the cost of hiring the inspector, although the city would look to assess the cost to the property owner in the case that the inspector does recommend an expanded scope of repairs above and beyond what the owner has proposed.


Horton says that she has personal experience with this property as she was a tenant at one point and that she feels bad for the tenants that still live there and have to put up with the conditions of the structure. Bren says she wonders about the liability the city could incur if something happens and there are damages. Williamson agrees that there is a concern about liability and how the city could potentially be involved if something were to happen on the site. Williamson thinks that the situation warrants implementation of staff’s proposal, but wants to make sure the engineer hired by the city has the necessary expertise and is not simply getting the job because they are a friend of someone involved. Tolsma and Beck explain that the two final recommendations were selected out of a list of several potential experts and that staff met to discuss the qualifications and work history of all potential firms that offered proposals. Williamson says that he feels more comfortable now after knowing the process that has been used to scrutinize the proposals. Tolsma says that they will verify that the city has the appropriate authority to move forward and that Beck will initiate communication with the attorney of the property owner to notify them of the inspection.



  1. Utility Superintendent Title Change
    1. Utility Superintendent DJ Goman requested a title change in late 2014. His request was to rename the position to “Public Works Superintendent / Deputy Emergency Management Director”. At the December 15, 2014 council meeting the consensus of the council was to table the discussion until a work session where the council could discuss it further.


Williamson explains that this is a request that was originally brought before the council at the Dec. 15th, 2014 council meeting and that the council didn’t feel comfortable making a decision at that time because there were questions about specific titles and how they fit in with the lake area emergency management plan. Williamson says that he does not see a problem changing DJ’s title to public works superintendant, although he still is concerned about having “deputy” or “coordinator” of emergency management in his title.


Tolsma states that after discussing the proposed title change with DJ and Police Chief Farniok today they were all in consensus that that the titles used throughout the plan are not clearly defined and therefore it is difficult to determine an appropriate title for people in similar situations to DJ where they are not a director, while still having the credentials and would undoubtedly have a role in an emergency situation. Tolsma said that after discussing the issue more with DJ they arrived at the conclusion that the best course of action was to approach the committee in charge of developing the lake area emergency management plan to request that they more clearly define the organizational structure of emergency personnel and adopt any titles that they feel necessary. Tolsma thinks that this makes more sense than having the city try to come up with a title for DJ which might not fit anywhere in the organizational structure of the emergency management plan. Tolsma instead recommends that the title should come from the emergency management commission, which the city could subsequently adopt if it so chooses.





Williamson informs the council that he saw a news article recently about Bloomington doing a moratorium to research medical marijuana facilities and just thinks it is something the city should follow along with so that we aren’t caught completely off-guard if a business were to approach the city about setting up a medical marijuana facility in Spring Park.