February 27, 2023 minutes


Alexandria, Minnesota 56308

Minutes of the meeting of February 27, 2023 

A regular meeting/public hearing of the Planning Commission of Alexandria Township was held on the 27th day of February, 2023 at the Alexandria Technical and Community College, Room 209, 1601 Jefferson Street and via teleconference.

Roll Call:  Commission members present were Shad Steinbrecher, Larry Steidl, Linda Dokken-McFann, Jessica Fettig and Julie Haar.  Also present were Bonnie Fulghum, Deputy Clerk, and Ben Oleson, Township Zoning Administrator.  As said members formed a quorum and the meeting was called to order by Chairman Steidl 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 Dokken-McFann, made a motion to approve the minutes of the 01/23/2023 meeting as written.  Motion carried unanimously.

Chairman Steidl recessed the meeting to open the public hearing on the proposed ordinance and comprehensive plan amendments.

Public Hearing:  Oleson gave a powerpoint presentation detailing the proposed amendments to the subdivision ordinance, zoning ordinance, and sections of the comprehensive plan.  Those amendments are as follows:


Oleson reported two minor changes are being proposed. The first relates to pre-application meetings.  At present, DRT meetings (Development Review Team) are encouraged but not required.  (A DRT meeting is when a pre-chosen group from different companies / entities gets together and comments on an application.)  The proposed change is to allow the zoning administrator the discretion of making DRT meetings a requirement versus a voluntary measure. The second change relates to the definition of “lot width.”  Instead of measuring lot width at the building line, lot width would be measured at the road right-of-way (frontage).  This change would match the county’s definition of lot width.


Oleson reported proposed changes to the zoning ordinance would primarily entail “shouse” regulations, cargo containers, the land use table, rip rap, and clearing/grading of property.

Shouse Regulations:

Oleson stated the proposed definition of a shouse would be as follows: “a structure that combines dwelling space and storage/non-dwelling space, and where 1) the height of the structure or the amount of ground covered by the garage/storage building portion of the structure is greater than 125% of that of the dwelling portion of the structure; 2) the sidewall height of any portion of the structure exceeds fourteen feet; 3) the structure is built with post/pole frame construction;  and 4) the siding of the building is made of roll-formed steel installed in a vertical pattern.”

At present, these types of buildings are not specifically regulated in our ordinance and are treated the same as any new home.  They have grown in popularity, in large part due to cost advantages.  The township has encountered concerns due to their appearance as compared to a traditional home.  The township currently has a moratorium on this type of building.

Proposed changes include the following:

1) Allowing a shouse to be permitted on lots five acres or more in the RCR, RR and UR zoning districts;

2) As a conditional use on lots five acres or more in the commercial/light industrial zoning districts; and

3) Prohibited on all lots in the residential shoreland zoning district regardless of size, on lots less than five acres in all other zoning districts, and not allowed UNLESS it is part of a larger PUD.  The storage/garage portion cannot be more than 125% of the house footprint EXCEPT by conditional use.  If larger by CUP, the following applies:  one egress window for each 15 ft of wall length; eaves at least 12 – 18 inches required; must use architectural features to make it more consistent with residential character, such as wainscoting, board and batten siding, 2-tone color schemes, residential design for garage doors and other similar features.

Other Related Amendments – Accessory Buildings:

The following will apply to accessory buildings:

1) New limit of 1,600 sq ft for attached garages/storage buildings (non-shouse); attached garage/storage buildings may not be greater than 75% of the overall footprint (house plus garage/shed); and

2) On lots exceeding 60,000 sq ft (non-shouse), the footprint of the attached garage/storage building may exceed 1,600 sq ft EXCEPT the portion exceeding 1,600 sq ft shall be counted against the lot’s overall limit for accessory buildings as outlined in Section J.2.

Cargo Containers:

At present, cargo containers are not specifically regulated by our ordinance and are treated the same as garages and/or garden sheds.  They have gained in popularity due to their cost effectiveness.  The township has expressed concerns regarding the appearance of these structures and that they seem to be out of character with traditional storage buildings/garages. Another concern exists due to long-term maintenance for these structures; i.e. rust, chipping paint, etc.

Oleson stated the proposed definition of a cargo container to be as follows: “a metal and/or steel storage and transport receptacle structure normally used for moving goods on ships and trains.  The size may vary from 8 feet wide by 8 feet high with lengths ranging from 20 – 40 feet long.”

Proposed changes would include the following:

Cargo containers would be prohibited in all residential and commercial shoreland districts; permitted or interim use in all other zoning districts; i.e., permitted if it met all conditions, otherwise it would be allowed as an interim use.


1) temporary use (up to 6 months) with a possibility of extension;

2) if completely screened, up to 2 containers would be allowed;

3) if completely housed within a building, no limit on the number of containers allowed; and

4) if it were displayed for sale/rent as part of a business.

Standards for permitted cargo containers:

1) all cargo containers require a land use permit;

2) must have ten acres or more;

3) must meet the same setbacks as are required of other accessory buildings;

4) a maximum of 2 containers allowed per parcel;

5) they will count towards impervious coverage limits;

6) a maximum of no more than 400 sq ft in footprint;

7) a maximum of no more than 8 ft in height (note: may not be stacked);

8) must be in reasonable condition of repair and maintained;

9) must be painted a color to match or complement other structures on the property; and

10) must be partially screened from neighbors or a public road with shrubs or other vegetation.

Standards for cargo containers allowed by interim use:

Landowners can apply for an IUP if previous conditions are not met.  A public hearing is required with neighboring properties within ¼ mile being notified and an official notice posted in the newspaper.  The township can add conditions if they felt the situation warranted it.

A question was asked if screening would be required.  Oleson responded yes.

Land Use Table:

Additions to the Land Use Table:

1) Seasonal Storage Facilities.  Prohibited in shoreland districts and considered an interim use in all other zoning districts.  The definition for seasonal storage is proposed as follows: “the use of an accessory building for the purposes of renting or leasing indoor storage space for the storing and removal of personal property, where the facility is open to the public in the spring and fall on a limited seasonal basis.  The accessory structure must meet all requirements of the Minnesota State Building Code.  Outdoor storage shall not be considered seasonal storage.”

2)  Event Venues.  Considered as conditional or interim use in all zoning districts.

3)  Mini-Storage/Self-Storage or “Storage PUDs.”  Still permitted in commercial/industrial zoning districts and prohibited in urban residential and shoreland districts.  Now allowed as an interim use in the rural conservation residential and rural residential zoning districts (was prohibited).

4)  Light Manufacturing of Parts and Assembly.  If newly constructed, would still be permitted and/or considered as a conditional use in commercial and industrial districts, and prohibited in all residential and shoreland districts.  If located within an existing building, would be prohibited in the residential shoreland district and considered as an interim or conditional use in all other zoning districts.

Other changes to the Land Use Table:

  • Merging “contractors offices, shops and yards,” whether outdoor storage or not. Would still be prohibited in most residential and all shoreland zoning districts.  Would still be considered an interim use in the rural conservation residential district.  It is now a conditional use in the commercial/industrial districts, whether it has outdoor storage or not.
  • Changes to phrasing; i.e. machinery, equipment sales, storage, and service would be changed to “sales, storage and service of machinery and equipment.”
  • Other uses not specifically listed – the change would allow for interim or conditional uses dependent upon township approval.

Other Proposed Amendments to match the county’s changes as required by state law:

1) Rip Rap now requires a permit per county changes, maximum 25% / 25 ft width unless there is active erosion, no geo-textile behind rock or minimum 30% of shore impact zone in natural vegetative condition.

2) Natural Shoreline Vegetative Condition.  Added the definition as “the condition of vegetation growing in areas adjacent to lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and other bodies of water such that it has not been actively altered by human activities, including land development, crop farming, forestry, mining, dredging, or other activity, but may have been passively altered by such actions as erosion, invasive species colonization, animal grazing, minor filling, fire, or other natural or indirect human cause.”

3) Clearing, Grading, Drainage Permits. This is intended to address clear cutting and large grading projects.  A permit is required, which includes the requirement of a grading and erosion control plan with specific standards that will apply.

4) Clear Cutting, outside of shoreland areas, was not previously regulated.  It now requires a permit.

  1. a) Exemptions would apply to the following: clearing to create tillable agricultural fields applicable to all lots in any zoning district which is five acres or less in size.; and
  2. b) a conditional use, along with a public hearing, would be required for lots greater than 5 acres in size, clearing more than 5,000 sq ft, and if clearing occurs within 50 ft of a property line.

5) Grading Activities Outside of Shoreland.  This was not previously regulated and now requires a permit.  It is intended to address site preparation for future building.  It applies if more than 50 cubic yards of fill is moved or there is an elevation change of greater than 2 feet.  It also requires a plan depicting existing drainage, proposed drainage, erosion control, and limitations on draining water to neighboring properties.

6) Impervious Surfaces.  Provides for the elimination of credits for use of pervious pavers.  The credit applied primarily to lots that were over the impervious coverage limit.

It was noted the zoning administrator would now have the authority to require a surveyor engineering analysis when determined necessary for land use permits and/or any of the above.  This would include, but is not limited to, determinations on property line setbacks, impervious coverage limits, and pre vs post construction drainage calculations onto neighboring properties or public right of way.


Oleson stated sections from the 2006 comprehensive plan need to be updated.  Those sections include the introduction, issues and trends and goals and policies.

Future LU Map. Depictions include adding more commercial areas. Those corridors were identified as along Co Rd 82, Highway 29 N and 39th Avenue.

The map shows where future ALASD expansion is anticipated. Traditionally, developers pay for the expansion of sewer lines.  Oleson raised the question if it is feasible for the public to aid in funding these areas where ALASD and the public jointly pay for projects.  Oleson noted there are no changes in the sewered areas since this was recently updated.

The old map depicted transition areas.  This has been eliminated.

Demographic Data. No proposed changes.  Waiting on the 2020 census results.

Chairman Steidl opened the hearing to the public for comment.

Questions were asked about future annexation, creation of bike routes, and ALASD expansion.

Chairman Steidl closed the public hearing and resumed the meeting.  The planning commission will review comments and materials at their next meeting.

New Business:  none

Old Business:  none

Zoning Administrator’s Report:  none

Adjournment:  Being no further business Haar, seconded by Steinbrecher, made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Meeting adjourned at 5:57 p.m.

Respectfully submitted…


Bonnie Fulghum, Deputy Clerk

Approved this ____ day of ___________, 2023


Larry Steidl, Chairman