January 18, 2007 at 7:20 a.m.
A massive preliminary plat sent to council on a split vote by the planning commission created lots of debate. The council chamber was also filled with concerned residents, who told council so many unanswered issues remain on the Golden Willows Farm project that council had no choice but to send the plan back for more review. Even city staff, in a memo, recommended to council action on the plat should be continued.
Golden Willows is a nearly 200 acre plat proposed to bring to the city commercial sites, multi-unit housing and single family homes. It is south of 275th and north of 270th in the James Avenue-Jeffrey Avenue area off Hwy. 8.
The developer's project manager John Johnson, of Metro Land Surveying and Engineering, made the presentation to council.
During extensive discussion over where a Highway 8 access and lighted intersection might be authorized by the state, the council additionally identified several other items needing attention. On a 3-2 vote Golden Willow preliminary plat was sent back to the city planning commission. (Sue Skow and David Giese voted no. Mayor Taylor, David Dobosenski and Greg Freer were the yes votes.)
Council member Giese said the planning commission has nothing much new to review. He added he wasn't going to "pass the buck" back to the planning commission. "I guess I don't feel that's the right approach."
Council member Dobosenski responded that the preliminary plat "is far from being complete." He said he wants city staff to have an opportunity to look over materials like the uncompleted EAW (Environmental Assessment Worksheet), stormwater drainage calculations and other pieces of the puzzle.
Mayor Taylor agreed, saying he spoke with planning commission members who told him they were uncomfortable with the level of detail prior to the commission's 3-4 vote to move the preliminary plat to council.
Mayor Taylor stated, "At this level we shouldn't be having to do this (determine basic details). We are giving direction (through the list of items) for the planning commission, which I think is what they were asking for," Taylor explained.
What is being called "Street F" in the plat will connect to James Avenue and a couple of residents spoke about the lack of detail about James Avenue's increase in traffic or anticipated improvements.
Another citizen felt the plat layout was all wrong, saying the tentative highway light is planned at a spot furthest away from a residential area. She felt residents will just turn onto and off the busy highway from the most accessible point and that won't be at the lighted intersection.
Another resident said the plat doesn't follow the city's own guidelines. He said the developer made a few "small changes" following public hearings before the planning commission but, "...we are only just beginning to discuss this in terms of the city's comp plan, density and design policies."
Another resident continued this line of thinking saying it was her understanding the Comprehensive Land Use plan identifies existing intersections where commercial uses are allowed and does not address "adding major" intersections.
A related issue to this plat is the state's "classification" of the Highway 8 corridor. The highway is "rural" class now in this area, and the city wants to investigate changing it to an "urban" classification. MnDOT has certain rules and design specifications that apply depending upon highway classification.
Council set a public hearing to review submitting the reclassification request to the state. The hearing is February 13 at city hall.
One citizen commented that planning commissioners mentioned to him they felt "pressured" to adopt a preliminary plat so the city could go to MnDOT on the reclassifying request supported by a pending project.
City Administrator John Pechman said MnDOT officials have told him there is no set process for highway reclassification and there's no pre-requisites.
In organizational business, the committee appointments by the mayor were adopted. Few changes are made, except newly-elected Greg Freer is liaison for the city on the park board, police commission, Chisago Lake Assoc. and Hwy. 8 Task Force, and replaces the mayor on Lake Improvement Dist.
Sue Skow is on the EDA and Library Committee and is alternate to the joint sewage commission and planning commission.
Dobosenski took the mayor's Green Lake Association post.
Existing professional services were retained; with Mayor Taylor requesting a letter from city attorney Tom Miller declaring non-existence of a "conflict of interest" on the law office's employment of Council member Giese's wife.
Joe Sroga was re-appointed to the expiring planning commission resident seat.
A lot split at 9344 Green Lake Trail was not acted on. Council voted 4-1 (Giese abstaining) to send the application back to planning commission. The city will officially notify the applicant Greg Olson of the need to extend the "60 day rule" and the planning commission gets another crack at the request.
Council was advised there was "new" information available at the council meeting that the planning commission hadn't seen. The commission had unanimously recommended denial because the split did not conform to ordinances requiring 100 feet width for the lot being split. The 5-acre, irregular-shaped lot is very wide at the Green Lake Trail end but the "easement" for the new lot-- that piece that attaches to the lake-- is within a 66 foot strip. Should the easement be authorized a Conditional Use Permit would be issued.