7/15/2022 1:53:00 PM Permit amendment for
plan attracts citizens
A proposed redevelopment of the Meredee’s-Dinnerbel lakeshore restaurant site in Lindstrom was the focus of a public hearing last week, as a new modular construction method had the developer requesting a flat roof, rather than peaked.
The hearing to amend the original Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the “Peninsula Apartments” was the first opportunity the public has had in years to provide feedback on this long-boarded-up site. Citizens and planning commissioners had lots to ask about beyond just the roofline.
After the first year of inaction came and went, Lindstrom council granted three year-long extensions for the plat to move to the next stage. Citizens were reminded at the hearing last week the FINAL deadline to have a final plat and development agreement in place is October 2022. City Administrator John Olinger said planning commission action is desired ASAP—explaining the project timeline is not something council supports extending again.
In the public hearing portion resident Mike Hursh stated the city should support this developer because Lindstrom hasn’t exactly been turning away new buildings. “This is a bright spot,” he continued. The apartments will attract secondary development in town.
The discussion evolved over the hour-plus hearing to also include other alterations depicted in the exterior design, and citizen interest extended beyond just the rooftop. What was described as the third iteration (graphic) of the site exterior — pictured coming into town on Hwy. 8 from the west— was the least favored by the city’s seven planning commissioners. The walls look flat and there’s no architectural amenities in the new drawing, were some of the comments.expressed by Planning member Orris Erlandson, a builder. He stated he doesn’t find anything presented as a final option to be attractive at all.
“I think we can do better,” he said.
The planning commission members asked for additional information from the builder, Christian Lawrence, who participated via Zoom, from the Internet.
The motion to send the project to city council for amendment action on the CUP, included conditions given to Christian Lawrence, to incorporate some of the original dimensional elements back into the facade to create “visual interest.”
Council will also need more extensive drawings and Lawrence should come to the council meeting July 21 better-prepared, planning commission members advised. There was a motion to simply table the permit amendment but the October deadline was cited as a need to move this along. Tabling was defeated unanimously.
In public comment one audience member quipped that all the new drawing lacked was some razor wire and spotlights, meaning the structure was looking very institutional. Lindstrom had not gotten all four sides and an aerial view provided, which was the reason behind mandating more drawings, etc. Builder Lawrence, with Rise Modular, said design details await nailing down financing and finalizing this permit amendment approval for the flat roof is key to financing.
Lawrence was agreeable to tweaking design elements as long as building codes and limitations to modular product needs are being recognized (ie: balconies and how they can be made waterproof and attach to pre-formed walls).
Lawrence stated he’s going to own this property and he is invested in Lindstrom. Rise has many other projects that demonstrate this sincerity in creating good looking structures, with projects in Edina, the Twin Cities and St. Michael.
Citizen audience members asked about the original approved plans that showed a marina on South Lindstrom Lake and a restaurant, which don’t appear to be shown on the latest apartment building renderings. Staff maintained that there never was a restaurant approved, only a “shell.” This was disputed and some research was promised between now and the next city council meeting.
The marina is in “phase two” Lawrence assured the hearing attendees.
Planning member Greg Donovan asked what the penalties are, if phase two never pans out. Staff said there are no repercussions specifically.
In drawings the space where earlier presentations described a restaurant— there’s outdoor patio furniture shown as a space for apartment dwellers, until a restauranteur comes along. Lawrence stated the apartments alone are “viable financially” and he is not in the restaurant business.
Citizen Judy Chartrand thought the planning commission should “respectfully” deny the permit for the flat roof amendment and “stop this.” She said the original layout and considerations granted were based on this project being a “gateway” site. What is being proposed “is doing nothing” for the citizens of Lindstrom, she concluded.
Future revenue? Citizens also asked about the Tax Increment Financing already granted.
The TIF program does not eliminate property tax in total. Tax on the new valuation will be paid and then the “increment” that equals the difference between what is paid currently and what the improved property valuation generates, goes back into the project to underwrite development expenses.
The property is shown on county tax records at $20,000 annually for property tax in its unimproved state.