Alexandria, Minnesota 56308
Minutes of the meeting of June 26, 2023
A regular meeting/public hearing of the Planning Commission of Alexandria Township was held on the 26th day of June, 2023 at the Township Conference Room, 324 Broadway, 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, Administrative Assistant, and Ben Oleson, Township Zoning Administrator. Said members formed a quorum and the meeting was called to order by Chairman Steidl at 5:00 p.m.
Agenda: Steinbrecher, seconded by Haar, made a motion to approve the agenda with the addition of staff report protocols under New Business. Motion carried unanimously.
Minutes: Steinbrecher, seconded by Dokken-McFann, made a motion to approve the minutes of the March 27, 2023 meeting as written. Motion carried unanimously.
Chairman Steidl recessed the meeting to open the public hearing on the interim use request submitted by Linda Nitschke for a home occupation business. Property is located at 4443 South Lake Jessie Road SE.
Public Hearing: Ms. Nitschke reported she acquired the property located on South Lake Jessie Road on Friday, June 23, 2023. She operated the same type of home-based business in Bemidji and was now relocating to Alexandria. Her business comprises several different therapies, which includes some overnights, biofeedback, massage, frequency therapies, salt tent therapies (respiratory), light therapy (boosting the immune system), lyme disease and sound therapy. Chairman Steidl inquired if any portion of her work is outside the building. She responded everything will be contained inside the building. Ms. Nitschke said she has always done home-based therapies, which also includes nutritional consulting, sale of supplements, lymphatic work, breast and prostate work, injuries post-operative, and homeopathy. Dokken-McFann asked if she needs a license for her work. Ms. Nitschke stated she is a licensed massage therapist in North Dakota and has been practicing for 27 years. Her title is that of an alternative healthcare practitioner. She mentioned she still has clients in Jamestown and will travel to see them every 4 – 5 weeks. There will be no employees other than someone being on-premise when she is absent.
Oleson asked if she had contacted public health regarding licensing. She stated she had talked with someone in that department and he said they have no requirements.
Commissioner Haar asked if there would be signage. Ms. Nitschke said she was planning on using two feather flags, which would be installed at the end of the driveway and could be viewed from either direction on South Lake Jessie Road. Haar asked if they would be installed in the ground permanently. Ms. Nitschke said that is dependent upon whatever the township allows.
Zoning Administrator Oleson reported the zoning ordinance, under its Home Occupations section, moderate activity, does not allow signage. However, under the general sign ordinance section for residential districts, certain signs are allowed. Permitted signs would be 1) a wall/projecting or marquee sign or 2) a freestanding sign for a licensed childcare business or other nonresidential program regulated under MN Stat. 245A.14 or successor statutes. Under Signs, 4(c) Exemptions, up to three unilluminated signs are allowed per parcel as long as they are each six square feet or less in size. There are no specific exemptions for feather flags.
Chairman Steidl opened the hearing to the public for comment. The applicant mentioned she had visited with her neighbor, Gary Johnson, and he expressed no opposition to her business.
Oleson reported the town had received one letter in opposition, from a neighbor, Gene Berglund. Chairman Steidl closed the public hearing and resumed the meeting.
Haar asked for more clarity and a description of feather flags. Oleson responded under the urban residential district, freestanding signs requiring a CUP can be up to 8 feet in height and 16 sq ft maximum in size. He said that if the commission chose to allow the freestanding signage, even though the ordinance requires a CUP, since the IUP had already been noticed, there would be no need for a notice for the CUP. Oleson provided views of feather flags. He also noted the applicant has stated she wants to have two flags. Chairman Steidl mentioned the flags would need to adhere to a 33-foot setback from the road.
Haar, seconded by Fettig, made a motion to recommend approval of Linda Nitschke’s interim use application for her home-based occupation with the six conditions as outlined in the staff report with the following changes: Condition no. 1 to read: “that the interim use will terminate five (5) years from the date of approval; condition no. 3 to mandate written confirmation from Public Health; condition no. 5 to add the following sentence at the end: “that the applicant shall be allowed to have overnight stays, up to a maximum of three clients; and condition no. 6 to be re-worded as follows: “that the applicant will be allowed one freestanding sign up to 16 square feet in size and up to eight feet in height that is located on the same property as an allowed or permitted business.” Roll: Haar, Steinbrecher, Dokken-McFann, Fettig, Steidl – yes. Opposed: none. Motion carried unanimously.
New Business: Administrative Assistant Fulghum asked if the planning commission members still wished to receive their staff report packets via USPS or have them emailed ahead of time and have hard copies available at the meeting. Consensus to have the packets emailed and hard copies be available at the meeting.
Old Business: none
Zoning Administrator’s Report: Oleson provided an update on permitting activities.
Adjournment: Being no further business Haar, seconded by Dokken-McFann, made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Meeting adjourned at 6:40 p.m.
Bonnie Fulghum, Administrative Assistant
Approved this ____ day of ___________, 2023
Larry Steidl, Chairman