March 10, 2023 at 1:25 p.m.
Disputed Lake Martha preliminary plat approved; annexation moves forward
Located on the east side of Karmel Avenue, the Lake Martha Shoreland Overlay District Planned Unit Development (SLOD PUD) calls for 25 lots on six acres, of which five acres are developable according to shoreland guidelines. Currently zoned as a park in the city’s comprehensive plan, the property is proposed to be rezoned medium density (R-3).
The property was able to meet shoreland density requirements in part because the lots closest to the lake (known as Tier I) are 277 feet from the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHW) creating considerable open space. The PUD ordinance allows for greater density when a shoreland development includes at least 50 percent open space. This can include recreational areas, areas not suitable for development, natural features and protected green space.
To help meet this requirement, Developer Don Skelly of High Pointe Land LLC proposes that all green space/yards within the PUD will be maintained by the association and further home expansions and accessory structures will be restricted.
High Pointe also proposes granting Chisago City an easement along the shore of the lake for a possible future trail. To help preserve open space, the association will permit only one path to the lake for lakeshore property owners and no other pathways are allowed. With these restrictions in place, “open space” constitutes over 50 percent of the development, which means It qualifies for a density bonus. Tier 1 (closes to the lake) is now allowed 17.2 units; the developer is proposing 15 units. Tier 2 is allowed a density increase to 10 units, and the developer is proposing 10 units.
The developer has not provided landscape, tree or lighting plans. The city is requiring one tree planted between two lots as soon as a home is built on one of those lots. Additional trees also must be planted as a buffer between Karmel Avenue and the development.
An area for boats slips is provided. The proposed dock for those boat slips will extend 85 feet out into the lake. The Department of Natural Resources hydrologist advised 15 boat slips could be allowed; however, the city is recommending a maximum of 13 based on the size of the lake.
An easement for future trail use will be granted to the city but a trail is not part of the current development. High Pointe has agreed to pay $11,250 in traill fees ($450 per unit).
Setbacks between units is 13 feet (rather than the recommended 15 feet) and one lot has a set back of only 6.8 feet on the north side and 5 feet on the south. Setbacks from the Ordinary High Water Mark are calculated based on shoreland density and open space requirements.
The developer also states it will limit parking to one side of the street, require homeowners to park their vehicles in their garages and limit parking in driveways.
In total, High Pointe is requesting 87 variances for front yard, side yard, and rear yard setbacks, impervious surface (which is 34.5 percent rather than the 25 percent maximum allowed), lot width and lot size. City staff stated that the developer “has worked with city staff and engineers to greatly reduce” the number of variances originally proposed from 187 to 87.
Based on the amount of developable acreage, city water and sewer charges for the development would total $11,684 for water and $15,748 for sewer. The developer is requesting these fees be forfeited and the city agreed. The usual water and sewer access fees will be paid by builders at the time building permits applications are submitted.
As a condition of approval, the city is also requiring the easement along Karmel Avenue be increased to 20 feet to provide room for future widening of the road or trail.
City Administrator Pechman told the council, “Karmel is not currently built to standards. If it were to be rebuilt, it would have to get wider. We are trying to get more right-of-way so we can add to the road later. “From the staff’s perspective, the best route is to make sure we have enough room. We’re extending the Swdish Immigrant Regional trail out there, and there is a possible (future) Highway 8 roundabout at that location (Karmel),” added Pechman.
Councilman Jeremy Dresel asked, “At the last meeting we were concerned about the road. Are we looking forward…getting a little more right-of-way to make sure it works?
“It might happen that the sidewalk would be better on the other side of the road because of the roundabout,” responded Pechman.
“To be clear, there’s no sidewalk planned inside the development,” asked Council Member Marie Rivers.
During the public comment portion of the Feb. 28 meeting, area resident Jonathon Dodge appeared, pleading that the council set aside funds in escrow for a future sidewalk on Karmel Avenue.
He cited future growth of youth recreation athletic events, a possible condominium going up across the street and use of the road by the new police department as reasons a sidewalk will be needed in the future.
If you don’t put money in escrow, (a sidewalk) is not going to happen. We need to have a safe place for people to walk,” Dodge concluded.
In other business, the council:
- voted unanimously to pass a joint resolution for orderly annexation of five and a half sections of Lent Township to the City of Chisago City. The resolution will be sent to Office of Municipal Boundary Adjustments. An Administrative Law Judge will have 30 days to review and sign off on the agreement. (see map)
The area to be annexed is east of the Carlos Avery Wildlife Area and adjacent to Chisago City’s border. North Branch also will annex a portion of Lent Township; the majority of Lent Township will be merged with the City of Stacy.
Under terms of the agreement, Chisago City’s taxes levied on the annexed areas will be phased in over a period of five years. The council passed the annexation agreement without discussion, with one member stating, “It’s been a long time coming. Let’s get it done.”
- approved Randy Kempenich’s request for a second extension of the final permit to build on the Nature View Homes Development near Walmark Lake. The final plat for the development was approved May 26, 2020, but the project has not moved forward.
On Jan. 17, 2022, Kempenich requested a 12-month extension citing delays caused by material shortages and scheduling conflicts related to the Covid 19 pandemic. The council granted the extension on Feb. 22, 2022, on the condition Kempenich record the approved plat, enter into a developer’s agreement and pay the city an outstanding balance of $4,938. Since that time Kempenich paid the outstanding balance but took no other actions, staff reported.
On Jan. 24, 2023, Kempenich requested another extension stating that changing market conditions and interest rates had caused previously interested buyers to cancel. The council approved a second 12-month extension, again on the condition Kempenich enter into a developer’s agreement and record the approved plat. New Council Member Nicole Battles asked if their approval of the extension could be delayed until the conditions are met. Administrator Pechman responded that Kempenich cannot sell any lots until he meets the two conditions.
- set a public hearing on Municipal Code 176 regulating the sale of THC products in the city for its March 28 meeting. The proposed nine-page municipal code is available for viewing at city hall. On Sept. 27, 2022, Chisago City placed a moratorium on sale of THC products within the city while it studied regulatory aspects of the issue.
- was reminded that the annual Board of Appeal & Equalization for taxpayers in Chisago City is set for 6 p.m. April 26.
- discussed the potential uses of $325,000 in unspent American Rescue Plan Act funds which must be used by the end of 2024. Two possibilities being considered were upgrades of aging heating and cooling systems in municipal buildings, and the extension of sewer utilities as part of planned Highway 8 construction.
The council then heard a plea from Chisago County Commissioner Marlys Dunne for considering the possibility of utilizing the ARPA funding to help extend high speed internet down the Highway 8 project. Dunne said she was frustrated that, at the county level, there hadn’t been the motivation to initiate a high-speed broadband project for the entire county. Rather, small projects have been initiated within the county, which she described as “pockets and silos.”
“We haven’t been having the conversation we should have been having,” she said. “Somebody needs to step forward and use those funds in the limited time frame.”
“The $325,000 would certainly help slightly with a project of that scale,” Administrator Pechman told the council, “but more likely would help with matching funding. We know we have a gap for high speed internet.” Pechman added that he was interested in hearing from the council.
Council member Rivers commented, “If we ever want to do any development down that way (Highway 8 corridor to the west) no company is going to come in without high speed internet. It’s as important as power and water.”
Councilman Dresel then said, “I’d like to save as much of the ARPA funds we can for bigger projects like sewer or internet—to jumpstart something that we couldn’t do otherwise. I would be more in favor of using our gas tax money for the city building air conditioning work.”
Public Works Director Jason Lind then mentioned that a new generator is needed to provide a back-up power supply to the water tower in the event of an outage. Pechman said there was enough money in the gas tax funds to provide a new generator as well as support the air-conditioning replacement.
- approved the pay equity report the city is required to submit to the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget every three years. DOMBR staff will review the report and determine if the city is compliant with pay equity regulations which compare male and female dominated positions.
- denied an application for a license to sell tobacco for a business in the strip mall at 29575 Sportman Dr. Based on its police department report, the council cited misleading information on the permit application and ties to other license holders who had similar licenses suspended or revoked as reason for the denial.
- accepted the resignation of Department of Motor Vehicles clerk Karla Fiorella and authorized a search for a replacement.
- adopted Juneteenth as an official state and federal holiday which means city offices will be closed each June 19th holiday.
- agreed to shine blue and green lights at city hall on April 14 to increase awareness of the importance of organ donation. The action was requested by Kristen Adams, a registered nurse speaking on behalf of LifeSource, a non-profit organization supporting organ, eye and tissue donation in Minnesota.
- responded to a request from the Chisago Lakes Joint Sewage Treatment Commission to provide the necessary quit claim deed granting it access to the sewer easement at Chuckie Lundquist Park for the purpose of repairing a lift station.
- passed amendments to the city’s subdivision ordinance, as discussed at a Jan. 24 workshop session and a Feb. 2 planning commissioner meeting. Amendments include: the city will now permit hammer head (a type of street design), and require letters of credit for developments. The city will notify property owners within 500 feet of any proposal requiring a public hearing, and a lot can now be split into two lots every three years. If more than three lots are proposed, a development agreement and plat are required.
- authorized Public Works Director Lind to seek quotations for proposed crack filling and a chip seal of Stinson Avenue, Shoquist Lane, and Sportsman Drive plus re-striping of those streets. Lind said the work should extend the life of Stinson another 10 years. If bids prove favorable, Lind told the council he may be able to add Jennifer and James Courts to this summer’s street improvements.
- approved a request for a grant that would connect the Swedish Immigrant Trail to Ojiketa Regional Park in Chisago City. “If we are awarded this grant, we are saying we have the minimum funds available to match 25 percent,” Pechman told the council. He added that the grant application had a relatively good chance of approval since the project will connect a regional trail system with a regional park. The application is due March 15.