May 13, 2020 Planning Minutes

MAY 13, 2020 – 6:00 PM

1. CALL TO ORDER - The meeting was called to order by Chair Hoffman at 6:03 p.m.

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


Planning Commissioners Present: Jeff Hoffman, Chair; Michael Mason; Max Avalos; Pete Kaczanowski; and Bruce Homan (via telephone)

Staff Present: Dan Tolsma, City Administrator; Al Brixius, City Planner; and Theresa Schyma, City Clerk


Commissioner Mason asked for the agenda to be amended to include Item #8a – Election of Officers.

Commissioner Avalos asked for the agenda to be amended to include Item #8b – Update on Tax-Forfeited Properties.

Commissioner Homan asked for the agenda to be amended to include Item #8c – Update on Council Schedule Regarding Rental Properties.

Commissioner Kaczanowski asked for the agenda to be amended to include Item #8d – Expansion of Basketball Court at Thor Thompson Park.

M/Homan, S/Avalos to approve the agenda as amended.

Motion carried 5-0

a. Planning Commission Meeting Minutes from September 11, 2019
b. Planning Commission Meeting Minutes from October 16, 2019

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

Motion carried 5-0.

a. 2463 Black Lake Road Variance Request
i. Staff Presentation

City Planner Brixius provided a summary of the application for a variance at 2463 Black Lake Road. He stated the location, size, and design are the concern if approved. As currently presented, he is recommending denial due to the issues the garage placement would cause for future improvement of utilities, efficient snow plowing, and public safety concerns with extremely limited sight lines. He added that he did prepare some conditions for approval if the Planning Commission believed the current design should be recommended to the City Council.

i. Public Hearing

Chair Hoffman opened the public hearing at 6:20 p.m.

Gregg and Carol Steiger, owners of 2463 Black Lake Road, were available for questions.

Mr. Steiger stated that he is open to other ideas including the conditions that City Planner Brixius mentioned like moving the door to the south-side of the design and not holding the City liable for any damage with future utility improvements or snow plowing. He added that he would prefer to not move the door to the south-side as he believes it would negatively impact his neighbor. Furthermore, he stated that if the variance is not approved, they would still put a one car garage in that space.

Mrs. Steiger added that the current one car garage is dilapidated and needs to be replaced. She also said that she has talked with several neighbors and they are all in favor of the design and application.

Commissioner Mason said he would like to see the new design improve the setback issue on the property. He recommended eliminating the bump-out area on the house so that the garage could be setback further from the street.

Mrs. Steiger responded that they were going to use that area to add a bathroom for elderly guests.

Commissioner Kaczanowski recommended turning the current one-car garage design so that there is extra space for a bathroom.

City Planner Brixius responded that option would increase visibility and reduce the current legal non-conforming setbacks.

City Planner Brixius stated that if the applicants are open to revising their design, then he recommends continuing the public hearing to the next meeting so that they can continue the application instead of starting the process all over again. He discussed options for the applicants to explore.

Commissioner Kaczanowski asked about the proposed utility updates on Black Lake Road in 2024.

Commissioner Mason asked how snow plowing would be impacted on the road. He also noted that the applicants currently have 5-6 cars parked on their property.

Mrs. Steiger responded that everybody is currently home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

City Administrator Tolsma stated that there will be challenges with this property either way. He added that the major concern is snowfall because that road is already difficult for the plows to navigate. He asked if the applicants would consider adding bollards if they moved the doors to the south. He stated that the variance would cause extra maintenance for the City’s plow trucks. He added that clearing the bollards would need to be the responsibility of the property owners.

Mr. Gregg stated that if the plow is simply pushing snow on his property, he was unclear as to why it would be an issue.

City Planner Brixus responded that plow trucks causing damage to his structure would be a concern.

City Administrator Tolsma added that the accumulation of snow is the main issue because it makes an already narrow road even more narrow. And, because of the structure, there is nowhere for the snow to go.

Mrs. Steiger asked if the City would be willing to pay the $22,000 estimate to move the storm drain across the street so that they can get their expanded garage and remove the utility issue for the City.

City Administrator Tolsma responded that is a City Council decision. He also stated that the Council would need to have the City Attorney weigh-in on the issue to see if there is a true public benefit for that money.

Chair Hoffman added that there is a fine line when appropriating taxpayer money for something that will only benefit one property.

ii. Discussion

Commissioner Avalos stated that this application is definitely a unique situation on a very difficult road but he would be in favor of having the applicants revise their design and come back to the Planning Commission to continue the discussion.

City Planner Brixius reiterated the option to the applicants to revise their design so that the garage is oriented to the south as a one-car, oversized one-car, or possibly a two-car design.

Chair Hoffman asked the applicants if they would like to revise their plan and come back at a later date.

Mr. and Mrs. Steiger responded they would like to look at other designs and come back to the Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission consensus was to continue the public hearing to allow the applicants some time to revise their plan and resubmit a new design for consideration.

iii. Recommendation

M/Hoffman, S/Avalos to continue the public hearing to the next Planning Commission Regular Meeting.

Motion carried 5-0.

City Clerk Schyma announced that written comments were received from Mark and Kris Kinter, 2468 Black Lake Road, in support of the variance application.



a. Election of Officers

Commissioner Mason stated he wanted to nominate Commissioner Homan for Chair.

Commissioner Kaczanowski congratulated Chair Hoffman on his appointment to the City Council and asked him how this impacts his position on the Planning Commission.

Chair Hoffman responded that he is able to serve on both the City Council and Planning Commission due to a new ordinance that was passed. He added that he would like to remain as Chair but opened the issue up for discussion.

Commissioner Homan stated that he appreciates the nomination but hadn’t had a chance to discuss things with Chair Hoffman. He stated that he supports Chair Hoffman remaining as Chair for 2020 and rescinds his nomination. He added that he would be interested in Vice Chair.

M/Mason, S/Hoffman to approve Jeff Hoffman as Chair of the Planning Commission and Bruce Homan as Vice Chair of the Planning Commission for 2020.

Motion carried 5-0.

b. Update on Tax-Forfeited Properties

City Administrator Tolsma provided an update on tax-forfeited properties. He stated that all seven properties are now in the City’s name and that all title work has been completed. He added that two of the properties are adjacent to properties that are currently in litigation with the City over nuisance issues. Due to the litigation, he is unable to discuss many of the details.

Chair Hoffman stated that after the litigation is complete, the Planning Commission should add the tax-forfeited properties to an agenda in order to make recommendations to the City Council about the properties that are adjacent to the City’s park.

c. Update on Council Schedule Regarding Rental Properties

Commissioner Homan stated that a lot of effort, time, and money were spent on getting the proposed ordinances to the City Council and wanted to be sure that things were still moving forward.

City Administrator Tolsma responded that a discussion is scheduled for the May 18 City Council work session. He further added that the delay in having the Council review the proposed ordinances was caused by several factors including losing two Council members, having to appoint new Council Members, and then the COVID-19 pandemic.

d. Expansion of Basketball Court at Thor Thompson Park

Commissioner Kaczanowski wanted to revisit the subject of expanding the basketball court at Thor Thompson Park that his son brought up at a previous Planning Commission Meeting.

City Administrator Tolsma responded that the idea can be revisited including possible grant options. He recalled that one of the original questions was whether or not the expansion of the basketball court would be too close to centerfield of the ball park.

Commissioner Kaczanowski stated that if the grant application gets denied, we could just keep applying.

City Administrator Tolsma responded yes, but there is a strategy when it comes to grant applications because a city doesn’t want to look like it always has its hand out. He added that he will look into the grant options that are available.

Commissioner Kaczanowski asked if staff could take a look at the edge plating the next time they are at the basketball court. He believes there is some damage that may have been caused by mowing.

City Administrator Tolsma responded that staff will look into it and see if it also might be something that the manufacturer might need to repair.


M/Mason, S/Avalos to adjourn the Planning Commission Meeting at 7:19 p.m.

Motion carried 5-0.

Date Approved: June 10, 2020

Dan Tolsma, City Administrator

Theresa Schyma, City Clerk