DECEMBER 12, 2005
CALL TO ORDER – The meeting was called to order at 1:35 p.m. by Commissioner Michael Dawkins at the
Commissioners Present: Michael Dawkins, 2nd Vice Chair
Absent Members: None
Council Liaison: Jack Hardesty, absent
Staff Present: Bill Molnar, Interim Planning Director
Derek Severson, Assistant Planner
Amy Anderson, Assistant Planner
Mike Franell, City Attorney
Sue Yates, Executive Secretary
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Douma/Morris m/s to approve the minutes of the November 8, 2005 meeting. Voice Vote: Unanimously approved.
TYPE I PLANNING ACTION
OWNER/APPLICANT: Michael & Mary Jacobson
DESCRIPTION: Request for Land Partition to divide a lot into two parcels for the property located at
This action was approved.
TYPE II PUBLIC HEARING
OWNER/APPLICANT: Medinger Construction Company/Erin McNulty
DESCRIPTION: Request for a Land Partition to create a flag lot from the rear of the property located at
Site Visits and Ex Parte Contacts
All Commissioners had a site visit. Dawkins is acquainted with some of the neighbors. Morris had a conversation with Lynn Costantino, a neighbor, but they did not discuss anything pertaining to the application.
Franell explained there is a restriction on the maximum lot depth of 150 feet in the code. If the flag drive area is included in the calculation of the lot area, in most instances that would end up exceeding the maximum lot depth.
Dawkins asked if the applicant could tear down the existing house and make a legal flag drive.
LARRY MEDINGER, 115 Fork Street, distributed materials to the Commissioners showing examples of 27 flag lots in the
Medinger said when looking at the Variance criteria, we don’t create a Variance because it is a unique situation. He thinks Criteria 2 is the critical issue – Is it a better way to do a project? He is proposing this is a unique situation because previously it has been one thing and now we have an interpretation from an unrelated part of the ordinance that suggests something else. That makes it a unique situation. In every other way, this is not a unique situation. His project is exactly the kind of planning they have been promoting including appropriate use of land and appropriate setbacks and it complies with the ordinances. He wouldn’t even be applying for a Variance if it weren’t for the aforementioned ordinance interpretation.
VERNON HUBKA, 843 Hillview Drive, said he looked at Medinger’s document dated November 22, 2005, page 3 – Criteria for Variance. He said Medinger’s statement is incorrect. The statement referred to Hubka’s lot. The Hubka’s did not request a Partition and Variance. In 2001, Hubka did a boundary line adjustment at 843 and 847 Hillview in order create two more rectangular lots more consistent with other lots in the neighborhood. It appears Medinger is trying to make a case for his Variance using Hubka’s lot as an example, but the information is misleading and incorrect. Hubka provided documentation for his lot line adjustment.
NANCY NERENBERG, 853 Hillview Drive, stated she is representing the neighbors. She read the Neighborhood Rebuttal to comments made by Mr. Medinger in his “narrative” applying for a variance. The Neighborhood Rebuttal was entered into the record. The rebuttal provided ten items. The neighbors oppose the splitting of
JENS SEHM, 853 Hillview Drive, RICHARD SCHAEFF, 904 Hillview Drive, MAYA NERENBERG, 853 Hillview Drive and SHARON HICKS, 893 Hillview Drive, yielded their time to Nancy Nerenberg.
ANNE CRISPINO-TAYLOR, 902 Hillview Drive, stated she is representing the neighbors. She read the Neighborhood Rebuttal to Mr. Medinger’s criteria for variance and entered it into the record.
LINDA BROWN, 904 Hillview Drive, RON STEFFANI, 872 Hillview Drive and BEV HUBKA, 843 Hillview Drive, yielded their time to Anne Crispino-Taylor.
CYNTHIA DION, 897 Hillview Drive, said she submitted a letter to Mike Franell since the last hearing regarding what she perceived as procedural irregularity at the last meeting. She was requesting this action be heard by the full Planning Commission. Whether the action is denied or approved, it will likely be appealed and she does not think the City Council would want to see it before the full Commission reviews it.
She believes the ordinances need to address flag lots very specifically so there are not so many different interpretations.
Dion said the biggest reason she is opposed to the partition is because of the incredible amount of impervious surface that is required by ordinance to install a flag drive and more impervious surface for a fire truck turnaround. Backyard permeable soil is necessary to allow water to percolate and not get flushed directly into the storm drainage system. The more we require the impervious surface, the more problems there will be with water quality.
SHEILA JOHNSON, 873 Hillview Drive and MARILYN YOUNG, 345 Harrison Street, yielded their time to Cynthia Dion.
CHUCK SMITH, 895 Hillview Drive, opposes the partition. He wants to retain the low density neighborhood. He’ll now have to look into the backs of two garages and listen to cars start up if this partition is allowed. He objects to removal of the screening and buffering. He is concerned with water runoff. The ground is saturated and there are numerous springs on the property. He has installed about 700 feet of curtain drain around his property. He showed photos of standing water. He is requesting the applicants hire a hydrologist and pay for an engineering study to determine what steps are necessary to correct the drainage problems. He asked that the Partition and Variance be denied.
Douma asked Smith how he would feel if the Hearings Board denies this application and the existing house is demolished and two houses are built on a partitioned lot. Smith does not want a flag lot behind a front lot because it is out of character with the neighborhood.
DARLENE STEFFANI, 872 Hillview Drive, yielded her time to Chuck Smith.
KEITH KLEINEDLER, 873 Hillview Drive, asked how many Commissioners had been in the backyard. Douma was in the backyard and Morris walked down the driveway. Kleinedler believes standing in the backyard gives one a different feeling than looking at it from the street or standing in the driveway. Kleinedler submitted photos taken on November 8, 2005 and December 1, 2005, days we experienced significant rainfall. He would like to see an engineered study too, guaranteeing the water stays on the applicant’s property. Any impervious surface will cause more water to run underneath his house. He would like to not have a partition as it is out of character with the neighborhood.
MATT WARSHAWSKY, 443 Allison Street, asked the Commission to consider runoff.
LYNN COSTANTINO, 892 Harmony Lane, submitted signed statements from 96 neighbors that oppose this Partition. He believes it can be denied on the basis of the R-1 Purpose, which is to stabilize and protect the suburban characteristics and encourage a suitable environment for family life. This is the blue collar neighborhood in
JEANNE COSTANTINO, 892 Harmony Lane and D. WAYNE LINN, 899 Hillview Drive, yielded their time to Lynn Costantino.
MATT WARSHAWSKY, 443 Allison Street, said he is a firm believer of infill, however, it needs to be applied in a way that maintains diversity in neighborhoods. It should not be applied to the point where
LINDA SHAY, 904 Hillview Drive, has investment in this community and her family prefers to live here. She is the CEO of a health care company.
MICHAEL HICKS, 948 Spring Way, stated he is an RN at
Staff Comments – Molnar said the Hearings Board needs to base their decision on the approval criteria for a Land Partition and Variance. The Purpose and Intent of the R-1 zone mentioned by a number of people is not used as approval criteria.
Rebuttal – Medinger apologized to Hubka for misinterpreting his lot split. They are planning to remove a few small trees and those along the back side that have to be resolved with the neighbor as far as replanting.
There were comments about substandard lots, but he doesn’t feel a 7500 square foot lot is substandard, especially for young people moving to
COMMISSIONERS’ DISCUSSION AND MOTION
Douma has been perplexed about the ordinances and their intent in this action. He will have to rely upon the Assistant City Attorney’s interpretation.
Morris noted the compact urban form is in the Comprehensive Plan in several places. These lots are big. Maybe it is one of the prices you pay for moving into the City. No matter what happens here, this is the start. Medinger could demolish the house and split the lot. Or, someone else could sell their property and this could happen all over again. What is this neighborhood supposed to look like in the next several years? He is having a lot of trouble trying to figure it out. If this is denied, he believes it will come back with another proposal. He is still at a loss as to what to do with it.
Dawkins believes most of the people here know where he stands on this issue. They are definitely going to have a community dialogue on infill. They can deny based on width vs. depth and that the partition does not meet the criteria. He is inclined to deny the project and let’s see what the next step will be.
Douma agreed the focus has to be on the Variance of depth vs. width. He has a legal problem with Plan A and a social problem with Plan B. How do you interpret the word “unusual” in the criteria? It is unusual because for 19 years the new interpretation of the ordinance was not applied? Can the “negative impacts on the adjacent neighbors” relate to the social contract we have with the whole city?
Dawkins said the ordinance says the lot has to be deeper than it is wide. He does not see anything unusual with this application.
Molnar said the application has to meet all three Variance criteria approval. If it fails on one, the Variance fails. Usually the unique or unusual circumstances apply to some physical attribute of the site. Medinger identifies unique or unusual as the new opinion by the Assistant City Attorney. Staff had a hard time determining if this was really unique or unusual in this way. It is the applicant’s burden to do his research and defend unique or unusual circumstances.
Morris said he hopes the Variance will not preclude people from doing something creative. It’s just that there is another side of this whole issue.
Douma/Dawkins m/s to deny the Variance because they were unable to find anything unique or unusual about the application based on the rules the way they are. Roll Call: The motion was approved unanimously.
ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 3:35 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by
Susan Yates, Executive Secretary