Alexandria, Minnesota 56308
Minutes of the meeting of March 28, 2022
A regular meeting/public hearing of the Planning Commission of Alexandria Township was held on the 28th day of March, 2022 at the Douglas County Public Works Meeting Room, 526 Willow Drive, and via teleconference.
Roll Call: Commission members present were Shad Steinbrecher, Larry Steidl, Linda Dokken-McFann and Jessica Fettig. 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 2/28/2022 meeting as written. Motion carried unanimously.
Chairman Steidl recessed the meeting to open the public hearing on the conditional use request submitted by All Around Companies on behalf of their client, Joey Andreasen. The property is located at 2434 Little Norway SE. The request is to allow the movement of more than ten cubic yards of material within a bluff.
Public Hearing: Peter Anderson of All Around Companies stated their plan includes a small beach area (200 sq ft) with riprap, a 3 foot boulder retaining wall, and construction of about 65 steps leading down the bluff to the lake.
Zoning Administrator Oleson reported a conditional use permit is required due to the construction of the retaining wall and sand beach area. It would involve the movement of more than ten cubic yards of material in the bluff area on the hillside. A primary concern is erosion control, which he addressed in his staff recommendations in the staff report.
Chairman Steidl opened the hearing to the public for comment. Hearing none, he closed the public hearing and resumed the meeting.
Dokken-McFann, seconded by Steinbrecher, made a motion to recommend approval of the Andreasen conditional use request with the three conditions outlined in the staff report, which includes the four breakout points under condition no. 3 pertaining to riprap. Roll: Dokken-McFann, – yes, Steinbrecher – yes, Fettig – yes, Steidl – yes. Motion carried unanimously.
Chairman Steidl recessed the meeting to open the public hearing on the conditional use for PUD request and preliminary plat of Maple Storage. The property is located along Maple Drive SE. The CUP is to allow the creation and sale of 63 lots for storage units in an Urban Residential zoning district. Representatives for the request were Brad Johanson and Troy Hersch, along with Matt Hagstrom of Hagstrom Engineering. The listed applicant on the application is Radach Land Surveying LLC.
Mr. Johanson stated their proposal is to create private individual storage units off of Maple Drive. The buildings would be 40 x 56 in size with 16 foot sidewalls. There would be a 50 foot landscape buffer around the perimeter. They will be considering ways to ensure privacy, for both future owners of the lots and landowners with adjoining property. This will be accomplished via fencing or another avenue. Many mature trees were removed as a number have fallen due to high winds. Their thought was to remove the hazards and begin over. A list of preliminary restrictions has been established: no outside storage will be allowed; the units will be for private use only; no subleasing will be allowed; there will be no accommodations for sanitary sewer or water; no other buildings will be allowed on the lots — the units will not be deemed “accessory buildings” but rather as the primary, sole building on each lot. The rest of the land would be owned in common through an association. The main customer base will be owners of motorhomes, larger boats, etc.
Matt Hagstrom provided information on infrastructure. A private, paved road would be built with three retention ponds to promote adequate water quality. The ponds would be constructed to ensure no negative impact on the wetlands. The two dead ends would be constructed with turnaround areas to allow for emergency vehicles. Infrastructure includes the roadway, silt fence, ponds, various erosion control methods, etc.
Oleson reported the property is currently zoned urban residential. Within that designation, he determined a development of this nature would be allowed under one of three possible categories: 1) mini storage, 2) non-residential planned unit development; or 3) other uses of the same general character as nos. 1 and 2 provided the planning commission deems they are fitting or compatible to the district.
The first category, mini storage, is defined as any building utilized for rental purposes which provides individual storage units or areas which may be accessed only by the individual who is storing materials in the unit or area. This proposal does not meet this definition since it is denoted for lots/buildings for sale versus rental purposes.
Oleson reported the request was advertised as a non-residential PUD (the second category). In conferring with Douglas County, he was informed they have allowed these types of developments as a conditional use throughout the county. He made note that this category does not, however, specifically mention private storage units.
The third category is a “catch-all,” which states if there are other uses that aren’t listed, but are considered by the planning commission to be similar to those that are, they could be allowed as interim uses. Normally an IUP has a time element, meaning they expire at some point. In this case, an IUP would not be recommended due to the amount of investment required.
By ordinance, this development would need to adhere to the impervious maximum of 25%. The proposal lists a proposed maximum of 37%. The applicant has two options: 1) to revise their plan to bring the impervious calculations to under 25% or 2) to apply for a variance. A separate variance would also be required to not connect to sanitary sewer, which is required by ordinance. Oleson mentioned that the nearest sewer line is about 700 feet away from the property. An option would be bear the cost of running the line down Maple Drive. Since the applicant has indicated he is not interested in installation of any utilities, the variance would be necessary. Any variances to be considered would be via public hearing before the township’s Board of Adjustment.
Oleson stated a wider approach off Maple Drive onto the private road may be needed due to the size of vehicles turning off Maple Drive. In discussion with Jeff Kuhn, the township engineer, Oleson stated Mr. Kuhn does not feel a turn lane off Maple Drive would be justified and that a wider approach should be sufficient. The private road would not be maintained by the township.
The applicant had received permission from Douglas County Soil & Water to fill a portion of wetland area under their standard allowance for filling of a wetland. The surveyor, Micah Radach of Radach Land Surveying, Inc., had made mention that the wetlands have not been formally delineated to determine the boundaries. His firm has been conservative in their estimates and are confident they will not be encroaching on the wetland area. It was noted there is a high water table due to the wetlands.
Oleson stated the retention ponds would not be maintained by the township unless the town is provided with an easement access.
Oleson reported the township had received a comment from ALASD about connecting to the sanitary sewer district. Initially their response was no need to connect since no bathrooms would be allowed in the facilities. After their participation in the Development Review Team meeting (DRT), they changed their position to require connection to ALASD since these buildings could have people eventually requesting bathrooms and/or other modifications requiring water.
Chairman Steidl opened the hearing to the public for comment.
Bernie Van Zomeren, 1323 Maple Drive SE, stated he felt the development was not a good fit for the area, which is zoned residential. He mentioned there were commercial corridors that would be better suited, noting storage buildings situated along Co Rd 82 and State Hwy 29. He said a water problem has potentially been created due to trees being clear cut. He also mentioned debris currently on the lot. He is advocating for denial of the Maple Storage plat.
Tom Gleason, 1220 Maple Drive SE, said he felt the trees were clear cut prematurely. Originally he thought a residence would be built, not a development. He also commented on oversized trucks traveling in and out of the property. He stated these issues should have been addressed prior to the public hearing.
Jared Hovendick, 1911 Maple Drive SE, feels his property will be de-valued and thus would be harder to sell. He expressed concern about safety due to increased traffic. He commented that the wetlands in the NE corner were not depicted on the current map. The storage units would be located in that same area. He felt drainage would be negatively affected, noting the high water table. He and others have basements and run a risk of water seepage, especially during a wet year. The visual aesthetics for neighboring properties would not be good. They secured 23 signatures on a petition in opposition to the project.
Abbey Kvidt, 1204 Maple Drive SE, expressed safety concerns about the close proximity of the development to the Lake Victoria public access citing increased traffic, in particular those with boats needing that access. Her fear is that people utilizing the access who are not from the area may not be attuned to people/children riding bikes, walking, etc. She stated it is a false assumption there would be less traffic. She contests it will actually be increased.
Luke Sprengeler, 3340 Queens Road SE, said it’s sad to see the trees down and the loss of wildlife. He likes to ride his bike and walk along the road. He won’t be able to do that anymore and is afraid someone will be hit.
Dan Wood, 2122 Lake Victoria SE, inquired that if the units are being sold individually, wouldn’t they have to comply with the maximum 25% impervious limit. He felt when all is said and done, the impervious calculations will be closer to 50% rather than the proposed 37%, especially due to the amount of wetlands on the property.
Duane Klimek, 2047 Maple Drive SE, commented that as a builder, he noted no silt fence has been erected on the property for soil erosion. He agrees with the comments previously made that this area is not suited for a development of this nature. A lot of young tree growth was eliminated as well as the mature trees.
Clemens Klimek, 2801 Golden Gate Avenue SE, said he was disappointed with the trees being cut down and, as a consequence, the disappearance of wildlife. Another concern is water displacement.
Ray Watts, 2208 Lake Victoria SE, stated he agrees with the comments made thus far. His main concern is the impact to overall property values.
Craig Krook, 2705 Golden Gate Avenue SE, said one of his concerns is security. He felt this type of development would be subject to crime, especially since it would bring in 63 lot owners that are potentially not from the area. He questioned if there would be fencing and/or a security gate for access. He commented that there will be drainage issues due to the elimination of the tree growth.
Rod Eldevik, 1211 Maple Drive SE, mentioned the township has a comprehensive plan which depicts zoning for each area within township boundaries. This plan is followed for the development of properties within each zoning district. The comprehensive plan is also for the protection of the people, citing any development must coincide with the zoning of the area. He noted this area is zoned urban residential and is within the sewer district (ALASD) boundaries.
Bruce Henningsgaard (appearing via zoom), stated his family has owned a cabin on Lake Victoria for 70 years (2520 Queens Rd SE). Over the last few years, water has begun to drain across the south side of their property, in part due to stormwater runoff from newer housing developments. The runoff is one reason he is opposed to the project. He feels anytime the impervious limit is exceeded, there will inevitably be runoff that will not be contained in the ponds. The runoff will bring phosphorous to the lake, negatively impacting water quality. It will also increase the amount of water crossing their property. The comprehensive plan includes a Land Use Map. In the area of the proposed development, it is designated UR. Long-term industrial uses are incompatible with residential uses and should not be allowed in this district. He does not believe the proposed use is compatible with the UR district. It doesn’t fit in with the existing comprehensive plan. The road is not wide and therefore would not handle the increase in traffic. He does not want this development approved.
Greig Manthei, 1302 Maple Drive SE, expressed concern about the visual aesthetics of the development, especially for those located next to it. Feels the development should be located in a commercial district. Asked who will be maintaining the road. He said it doesn’t fit and is wrong for the neighborhood.
Trista Hovendick, 1911 Maple Drive SE, said they were worried about the safety of their children. Their land is adjacent to the proposed development and their concern is about the runoff onto their property.
Bill Johnson, 1206 Maple Drive SE, commented that the area north of the development is a quiet, lakeside area with a definite residential tone. He feels the proposed development doesn’t fit the area.
The following were letters received by the township in opposition to the project:
William Weaver, 1950 Lake Victoria SE, commented that this is a residential area with no other commercial business other than farming. He stated he feels the area would be harmed for future development if commercial properties were allowed.
Dan Wood stated his letter did not need to be read since he had already spoken during the hearing.
Jared and Trista Hovendick, 1911 Maple Drive SE, asked that their letter be read even though they had spoken during the hearing. Their letter stated the following concerns: 1) water table pressure will negatively affect their property; 2) neighborhood appeal – their property values would be depreciated; 3) safety – the storage units would be susceptible to theft and therefore neighborhood homes could also be targeted as well as safety for their children; 4) increase in traffic; and 5) environmental impact. They request the area stay residential.
Dan and Linda Karbo, 2742 Wilderness Ridge Road SE, stated the following concerns: 1) the area is zoned UR; 2) feel this development would be a blight on the neighborhood; 3) increased traffic; 4) potential for increased crime; 5) impact on roadways; and 6) foresee difficulty in monitoring of potential businesses, even though they would not be allowed. They cannot see any positive impact if this project is allowed. They do not want this project approved.
Wayne Oberg, 2804 Golden Gate Avenue SE, referred to images in the staff report. He maintains water flow could potentially move to the homes to the north, on Golden Gate Avenue. This project should not be in a residential area.
Mr. Hovendick supplied a signed petition.
Chairman Steidl closed the public hearing and resumed the meeting.
The planning commission voiced concerns regarding future sewer expansion, enforcement of covenants/restrictions, stormwater management, sidewall height, future residential growth, intended use within the UR district, non-conformance with the comprehensive plan, road impacts, and drainage/stormwater runoff.
Dokken-McFann, seconded by Steinbrecher, made a motion to recommend denial of the conditional use for PUD request and preliminary plat of Maple Storage based on the findings of fact as stated in the staff report. Roll: Dokken-McFann – yes, Steinbrecher – yes, Fettig – yes, Steidl – yes. Motion carried unanimously.
Zoning Administrator’s Report: none
New Business: none
Old Business: none
Adjournment: Being no further business Dokken-McFann, seconded by Fettig, made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Meeting adjourned at 6:12 p.m.
Bonnie Fulghum, Deputy Clerk
Approved this ____ day of ___________, 2022
Larry Steidl, Chairman