April 13, 2016, Planning Minutes

APRIL 13, 2016 – 7:00 PM
Attendance: Former Commissioner Struck, Administrator Tolsma, Clerk Lewin, Planner Brixius, Council member Bren.
1. CALL TO ORDER - Chair Hoffman called the meeting to order at 7 p.m.



4. ROLL CALL - Mason, Avalos, Kaczanowski, Palen, Hoffman

5. ADOPT AGENDA – Brixius wants to discuss a taproom proposition. It will be added under Misc. Hoffman would like to add open meeting law. Mason makes a motion and Palen seconds to adopt the agenda. All votes ayes, motion carries.

a. Planning Commission Meeting Minutes from December 9, 2015 – Kaczanowski makes a motion and Avalos seconds to approve the minutes. All votes ayes, motion carries.

a. Nuisance Enforcement Discussion –
Brixius said there has been a request for a review of this. Brixius said the code was amended to establish an administrative fine. He said in the past it was a misdemeanor process but it’s the least effective way to enforce. Brixius said in Chapter one, if a complaint is received, the administrator conducts a site inspection and documentation will be made. He said they then review the code and site the specific violations. He said a letter of notice of violation is prepared with 14 days allowed to correct. If it goes to citation, there is a schedule for fines. He said it can still go through the misdemeanor process and it can be assessed. The violator can appeal the violation with the council and/or ask for an extension of time. There is also opportunity for mediation. Brixius said generally the letter will trigger action, especially if there is a fine.

Brixius said the city gets three to five complaints per year and the complainant information is confidential. Brixius said the zoning code addresses land use but nuisance codes are also included. Brixius said in other cities for zoning there is only two options, pursuit of misdemeanor and that is the way some cities prefer to handle it. Other cities have gone to the administrative fine option.

Kaczanowski said he’s discovering this isn’t such an easy process. Kaczanowski said as a planning commissioner he notices things and he thinks it should be discussed. Brixius said Spring Park contracts everything out so sometimes it’s difficult to enforce code. Brixius said he feels it’s okay for commissioners to be proactive on this. Kaczanowski said he has noticed safety issues, especially vehicles that have to back onto a busy road. He said he’s taken some photos of property. He said he’s not trying to attack any individuals and he’s a proud home owner. He said it’s difficult for neighbors to complain about neighbors.

Brixius said based on what Kaczanowski described there can be complaints taken or the city does a tour of the city and sends out a notice to violators. Hoffman asked about the City of Mound’s code enforcer. Tolsma said two years ago a contract was negotiated with Mound to do nuisance property enforcement with their community service officer. Tolsma said the City of Orono now has hired the same code enforcement officer. Hoffman said it brings some protection for the commission if we can rely on a nuisance officer. He is in favor of handling nuisance properties that way. Tolsma said the council a few years ago wasn’t interested in having a code enforcement officer actively look on his own. They preferred that this go by complaints generated.

Mason said this started with commercial properties and it’s migrated. He is concerned about picking on individuals. Struck said she lives next door to a nuisance property. She said it does become difficult when the neighbor thinks they are being targeted. Struck said sometimes there is more to it than meets the eye. Bren said she was on a walk and another neighbor approached her asking about the derelict house. Bren feels these properties can be fire hazards, she feels it’s detrimental to the neighbors who want to keep up their properties.
Tolsma most likely even though the complaint is anonymous, most violators know who the complaint has come from.

Hoffman feels government is responsible for health, safety and welfare and he feels strongly about enforcing things that violate one of those three. Bren thinks since the city contracts with Orono for policing, she wonders why SP can’t use their Community Service Officer. Tolsma said he’s not sure yet what the role is with Orono. Hoffman suggests to put a request to the city council to pursue this further.

Kaczanowski said he thinks there has been some really great discussion. Kaczanowski said some rules could be set. He said he’s not suggesting someone goes and peeks in someone’s yards. He said if there is violation of safety standards, he feels this should be investigated. Brixius said the nuisance code is specific for health, safety and welfare. He said he’s not sure zoning violations would be something this officer would look at but non invasive investigation of nuisance properties would be allowed.

Palen said she agrees about bringing in the code enforcement officer and she likes not having to pit neighbor against neighbor. She likes the idea of an officer in uniform and in a marked vehicle. She said nuisances could be pointed out and a plan could be suggested. Avalos said he agrees these situations need to be addressed. He wonders about what level this should be brought forward. He wonders if there are certain standards that should be enforced. He believes addressing violators with written notices as a first step. He agrees with Hoffman about the health, welfare and safety issues.

Tolsma said nuisance enforcement is difficult because everyone probably has a violation on their property. He said it has to be determined what level of nuisance. Tolsma said when referring to the code language, he refers to numbers 5,6 and 7 on the next page. He said 80-90% of the city’s complaints are with those topics. He believes it needs to be more clearly defined. Kaczanowski maybe likes the idea of a tour with commissioners and maybe that’s when a few things could be agreed upon in order to pick out a few standards to follow. Struck said sometimes people don’t know they can file a complaint. She wonders if there is a way in which to market this, either by the newsletter, or on the website. She doesn’t like the idea of a tour because she thinks that looks like targeting properties. Brixius thinks the clean up days could be hyped more in order to encourage those to clean up their properties. He suggests an article in the newsletter that outlines nuisances. Tolsma said it can become challenging when some people are hoarders and won’t part with their items. Hoffman wonders which way to go with this. Tolsma said he would like to approach Orono to find out about this new position and find out if he will do code enforcement. Hoffman agrees to table this until after Tolsma finds out about Orono’s plans. Kaczanowski also wonders if just increasing the marketing and the education about what constitutes nuisance properties and perhaps highlight it for those who may not understand.

a. March 7, 2016 Council Minutes
b. March 21, 2016 Council Minutes
c. March 28, 2016 Work Session Minutes

Brixius said this has already gone to the council as there was an inquiry about 4787 Shoreline Drive. He said there have been two separate inquiries for brewery taprooms. He said the code allows for taverns in that zoning district but not the production of the beer. He said there would have to be changes made in the zoning district. He said in other communities it’s allowed under CUP. He said in Spring Park there is a component that requires a food percentage so the liquor license code would need to be changed. He said Spring Park’s 75% requirement of food sales is very high and probably should be looked at for change.

Palen asked if the property owner is aware of this. Brixius said the property is for sale but it would be necessary for the property owner to sign off on this. Avalos asked about tap beer and if there is food. Brixius said what is being requested now is a brewery with a taproom but no food sales. He said a lot of taprooms like to use food trucks. He said they are referred to as transient merchants. Kaczanowski asked if this can be restricted. Brixius said the code right now is very broad so they would probably be allowed. Mason wonders how this will affect the Drive-in and the Asian Bistro. Brixius said he thinks this could be a good thing for existing businesses. Mason said he’s heard the phosphorous emitted from the by-product f the production can be a problem. Kaczanowski thinks this is everywhere and sooner or later this is going to come to Spring Park. Struck wondered about hours of operation and said breweries usually are not open all day or every day. Mason wonders if there has been any money paid so far by those showing interest. Brixius said right now this is just being explored if it can be done. Mason said there might be increased policing costs. Hoffman stated he was on the council when liquor licensing was discussed and the cost for the liquor license was increased to offset increased policing.

Hoffman wanted to talk about open meeting law. He said recently the City of Victoria had some violations. He wants to state that the commission is required to follow Open Meeting Law. He said it can be very precarious. He said this also means individuals contacted by email.

10. ADJOURNMENT Mason makes a motion and Kaczanowski seconds to adjourn the meeting at 8:49 p.m. All votes ayes, motion carries.

Dan Tolsma, Administrator

Wendy Lewin, City Clerk