March 25, 2024 minutes


Alexandria, Minnesota 56308

Minutes of the meeting of March 25, 2024 

A regular meeting/public hearing of the Planning Commission of Alexandria Township was held on the 25th day of March, 2024 at the Township Conference Room, 324 Broadway, and via teleconference.

Roll Call:  Commission members present were Shad Steinbrecher, Larry Steidl, 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 Chairman Steidl at 5:05 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 02/26/2024 meeting as written.  Motion carried unanimously.

Chairman Steidl recessed the meeting to open the public hearing on the conditional use request submitted by Carr’s Tree Service.  Property is located at 3544 Geneva Road NE.

Public Hearing: Evan Amundson, representing Carr’s Tree Service, stated the company’s intent is to expand their property holdings by purchasing additional property from an adjacent landowner, thus affording them greater flexibility for housing more outdoor storage, debris and/or vehicles.

Zoning Administrator Oleson reported Carr’s Tree Service currently has property off Geneva Road. They want to add a portion of the adjacent lot situated behind their current lot for additional storage.  This would allow them to place their brush piles from tree removal work in a location further north on the lot, away from the public road and their company vehicles / small office building.  Their current parcel has an existing conditional use permit as it is located in the Commercial zoning district. Contractor’s yards with outdoor storage, like Carr’s, necessitates a CUP.  This property was initially rezoned to Commercial at the inception of the first CUP.  Surrounding properties are zoned Urban Residential.  An item for discussion is whether to require the new property to be rezoned to Commercial or let it remain Urban Residential since it will be used for storage of brush piles and not business activities.

Chairman Steidl opened the hearing to the public for comment.

Teresa Halbur, 3408 Geneva Road NE, asked what the listed conditions were for the original property.

Dan Halbur, 3408 Geneva Road NE, said he and his wife live south of Carr’s. They share a boundary grove of trees.  He explained he originally thought there would be a small amount of debris.  Instead, the brush piles consist of very large logs and are approximately 30’ – 40‘ high and 70’ long.  He recollects the business conducting burning four times, three times with the fire department onsite.  He said the noise generated by the chipper is annoying, especially when his wife, who works from home, is subjected to it all day for extended periods of time.

Ms. Halbur stated the business is literally in their backyard.  The decibel level is loud.  She expressed her opposition to their hours of operation.  She felt since the business is located in a residential area, it should not be allowed to run until 7 p.m. at night.  They also should not be able to have fires of any magnitude as it can create a safety hazard.  She mentioned it is an eyesore and depreciating the value of their property.

Mr. Halbur stated he thought the business would be expanding to the north versus the east.

Lucas Dahlen-Brede, 3200 Geneva Road NE, said he is the owner of the adjacent lot and is negotiating the sale of land to Carr’s.  The business would purchase 2.2 acres of the existing approximate 23-acre parcel.

Mr. Amundson indicated they want to provide a buffer between the vehicles and the burning debris.  They will continue to grind.  Burning occurs primarily in winter.

Chairman Steidl closed the public hearing and resumed the meeting.

Chairman Steidl asked if Carr’s would be opposed to changing the hours and having a ban on burning.  Mr. Amundson replied yes, he would be opposed.

Chairman Steidl asked if the hours could be changed due to the grinding noise.  Would changing the hours to 7a.m. – 5 p.m. on the new property be something he’d consider?  Mr. Amundson stated from a grinding perspective, they’d try to accommodate.

Commissioner Steinbrecher inquired if grinding occurs on specific days.  Mr. Amundson responded it all depends on the availability of the grinder.  Steinbrecher asked if when they have the grinder, are they utilizing it on a daily basis.  Mr. Amundson replied their goal is to accomplish the grinding as quickly and efficiently as possible, thus minimizing the amount of disturbance to the neighbors.

Ms. Halbur asked if there was a limitation on the height of the piles.  Oleson responded the original CUP did not limit the size.  He noted that if the size was limited, the applicant would need to burn or chip more often.

Mr. Halbur asked if they were considering planting a row of trees for more buffer.  Mr. Amundson responded they had considered putting up trees for screening.  He stated this may be a condition for the purchase agreement, not necessarily for the township.  Oleson asked if they had discussed a minimum height.  Mr. Dahlen-Brede expressed his desire to have mature trees, approximately 6’ – 10’.

Ms. Halbur asked as a courtesy, could they be notified when the company is going to burn and/or chip. Mr. Amundson responded yes.

Mr. Amundson stated they do secure burn permits.  They had one incident where the burn was unplanned and they subsequently worked with the fire department.  Oleson asked if there was a way to prevent this type of occurrence.  In Mr. Amundson’s conversation with the fire chief, they discussed having the fire department hose everything down after a burn.  They also discussed having smaller fires more often.  The end result would amount to a trade-off.  The company is more prone to grind the debris than to burn.

Oleson inquired if grinding would be limited from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., and would the same hold true for burning.  Mr. Amundson stated a planned burn could go on for a few days.  When it has played out, they then scrape with a payloader.  A lot depends on weather conditions.

The primary staging section would be in the new area.

Dokken-McFann asked if this could be a lot line adjustment versus re-platting.  Oleson responded yes.  She also asked if the new property could remain zoned as Urban Residential.  Oleson responded yes.

Oleson asked Mr. Amundson if he wished to combine the two CUP’s or have them remain separate.  Mr. Amundson prefers they remain separate.

Dokken-McFann, seconded by Fettig, made a motion to recommend approval of the conditional use application for Carr’s Tree Service with the six conditions listed in the staff report, modifying the conditions as follows:  Condition no. 1 to read: “That a vegetative buffer that maintains a significant visual barrier between the business and residential property to the south be maintained. The applicant shall also plant at least 2 rows of 6’ – 10’ coniferous trees along the south border of the newly added land;” amending Condition no. 2 to read: “no vehicle parking shall be allowed on the newly added land except vehicles and equipment directly related to moving and/or grinding brush; amending Condition no. 3 to read: “that the approval does not include construction of buildings on the newly added land; amending Condition no. 4 to read: that the hours of operation for chipping and grinding of vegetative materials be limited to Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. on the newly added land;” leaving Condition no. 5 intact; and amending Condition no. 6 to read: “the existing CUP and related conditions for the existing parcel remain in effect.”   Roll:  Steinbrecher, Dokken-McFann, Fettig, Steidl – yes.  Opposed:  none.  Motion carried unanimously.

New Business:  none

Old Business:  none

Zoning Administrator’s Report:  Oleson presented a summary of building permit activity.

Adjournment:  Being no further business Steinbrecher, seconded by Fettig, made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Meeting adjourned at 6:11 p.m.

Respectfully submitted…


Bonnie Fulghum, Administrative Assistant

Approved this ____ day of ___________, 2024


Larry Steidl, Chairman