Alexandria, Minnesota 56308
Minutes of the meeting of August 28, 2023
A regular meeting/public hearing of the Planning Commission of Alexandria Township was held on the 28th day of August, 2023 at the Township Conference Room, 324 Broadway, and via teleconference.
Roll Call: Commission members present were Shad Steinbrecher, Linda Dokken-McFann and Jessica Fettig. Also present were Bonnie Fulghum, Administrative Assistant, and Ben Oleson, Township Zoning Administrator. As said members formed a quorum and the meeting was called to order by Vice-Chair Dokken-McFann at 5:00 p.m.
Agenda: Steinbrecher, seconded by Fettig, made a motion to approve the agenda as written. Motion carried unanimously.
Minutes: Steinbrecher, seconded by Fettig, made a motion to approve the minutes of the 07/31/2023 meeting as written. Motion carried unanimously.
Vice-Chair Dokken-McFann recessed the meeting to re-open the public hearing on the conditional use request submitted by Titus II, Inc. that was tabled at the 07/31/2023 meeting. The property is located at 7005 County Road 82 SE.
Public Hearing: Representing Titus II, Inc. were Mary Yaw, Executive Director, and board members Tammy Heinzman and Rosalie Eisner-Roquette.
Ms. Yaw informed the commission that Titus II received a $10,000 gift. They intend to commence with the construction of the lighthouse and an 8 x 8 sign with a reader board underneath. The lighthouse will be located adjacent to the sign, will illuminate the sign via solar lights and will face the road. She explained the lighthouse was the next item to implement in their plan, along with shrubs on the west side of the property for screening. She asked if the lighthouse itself would be considered a sign. Commissioner Steinbrecher commented he did not consider it a sign, but would view it like any other landscape item, such as statues, etc. He also noted it shouldn’t present any line-of-sight issues or interfere with snow removal.
Commissioner Fettig inquired as to the height of the lighthouse. Ms. Yaw stated the dimensions can be anywhere from 8’ – 12’. Vice-Chair Dokken-McFann asked if the signage would be 8 x 8. Ms. Yaw stated she thought that was the largest size allowed. Oleson concurred. Oleson asked if the reader board would be electronic. Ms. Yaw responded no.
Ms. Yaw reported they had been in contact with their insurance company to ensure their liability insurance was adequate. She said they would be held to the same standards as that of a daycare setting.
To date, they have not received a response from the landscaping companies they have contacted.
Zoning Administrator Oleson reported Titus II’s application was tabled at the last meeting so a DRT (Development Review Team) meeting could be held. A conclusion of the DRT meeting is to concentrate on the retreat center building at this time and postpone the park construction. Ms. Yaw stated her intent to officially withdraw the park portion from the CUP application. Titus II plans to apply for a CUP to construct the park sometime within the next few years. They intend to have the park fully constructed within five years. Their focus at present is on the signage / lighthouse and the parking lot to the west of the house. To facilitate the parking lot, they will need to move the LP tank and a trailer. Shrubs will be planted to the west for screening, but an actual landscaping plan won’t be forthcoming for another few years.
Oleson remarked that no additional parking will be needed for the retreat center. The public health department stated they were aware of the proposed transition to a retreat center and had no issues with this conversion. Ms. Yaw mentioned they are already licensed under the health department.
Vice-Chair Dokken-McFann said the building already has five bedrooms – would the maximum be ten? Ms. Yaw reported there is no limit for the number of beds for the retreat center, as it is based not on air space (as it was for the shelter), but on capacity. Titus has set a limit of 11 (12, counting herself). Dokken-McFann asked if the township has a capacity limit. Oleson responded we do not address this directly. The closest we come in the zoning ordinance would be the restrictions for a bed and breakfast, which he noted are primarily located in residentially zoned areas. Titus II is in a commercially zoned area. He noted signage for a commercial area is 64 sq ft (mentioned previously) versus 8 sq ft in a residential area. In compliance with the bed and breakfast standards, Ms. Yaw stated any exterior lighting would be shielded on the west side, the parking area would be screened by shrubs, and parking would be adequate for the retreat center.
Oleson inquired if they intend to build an addition onto the retreat center. Ms. Yaw stated that would be considered only after the park is completed. Oleson said an addition could be applied for at the time of the park as Phase 2 – or we could accommodate it now with this application. He noted the following: “A condition of the 2020 approved CUP stated the permit was valid for one year, but the applicant may request extensions without the need for a new public hearing for up to five years. The CUP will expire after five years if the applicant has not applied for the permit to construct the second living unit.” Ms. Yaw said she has not come back to the town for an extension.
Vice-Chair Dokken-McFann opened the hearing to the public for comment. Hearing none, she closed the public hearing and resumed the meeting.
Fettig, seconded by Steinbrecher, made a motion to recommend approval of the conditional use application submitted by Titus II, Inc. with the eight conditions outlined in the staff report, changes to those conditions are as follows: delete condition no. 1; change condition no. 8 to “the retreat center shall meet all requirements of the Alexandria Township Zoning Ordinance applicable to Bed and Breakfast facilities (see Section V.M or successor section), except for signage allowances; addition of condition no. 9 “allowable signage shall be as regulated in the Commercial-Rural zoning district in Section V.A (or successor section) of the Township Zoning Ordinance; addition of condition no. 10 “the 2020 conditional use permit granted to this property shall be considered null and void; addition of condition no. 11 “the retreat center shall not be limited to any specific hours of operation; and the addition of no. 12 “the extended parking lot and park portion of the application is recommended for denial unless the applicant withdraws that portion” and modifying the findings of fact to eliminate the parking and park portions. Roll: Fettig – yes, Steinbrecher – yes, Dokken-McFann – yes. Motion carried unanimously.
New Business: none
Old Business: none
Zoning Administrator’s Report: none
Adjournment: Being no further business Steinbrecher, seconded by Fettig, made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Meeting adjourned at 6:05 p.m.
Bonnie Fulghum, Administrative Assistant
Approved this ____ day of ___________, 2023
Linda Dokken-McFann, Vice-Chair