by John McLoone A new 33-home development proposed by Greg J. Homes will need to have its own stormwater retention pond. That was the conclusion to more than an hour of discussion and some debate at …
by John McLoone
A new 33-home development proposed by Greg J. Homes will need to have its own stormwater retention pond.
That was the conclusion to more than an hour of discussion and some debate at last Monday night’s council meeting.
Leading into that discussion, the council had made quick steps through its nightly agenda. It approved a contract with McNamara Construction for Phase II of the W. 15th Street reconstruction project at a cost of $2,595,590. A sidewalk café license got the go-ahead for Geek Haven Coffee, 120 2nd St. East that will allow service outside from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. A change to the climate-controlled storage code was changed that clears the way for more than 50 percent of buildings to be used for climate controlled storage in its shopping center district.
The 50 percent limit is replaced with a cap at 20,000 square feet of any building for climate-controlled storage.
Community Development Director John Hinzman explained that Ed Rymer, who owns the strip mall adjacent to Coborn’s, 275 W 33rd St, wants to convert part of his strip mall for climate- controlled storage use. His plan is to use about 11,000 square-feet of the 16,800-squarefoot building into storage.
The council was told that the move could increase tax base by allowing climate-controlled storage in vacant commercial properties.
The council voted unanimously to support the change.
With the exception of a few announcements to close the meeting, the remainder of the night went to the Greg J. Homes plan’s for its South Oaks of Hastings fourth addition, located southwest of 31st Street and Century Drive.
The city’s Plan Commission voted this spring unanimously to deny approval of the preliminary and final plat of the subdivision because of an incomplete stormwater management plan, as well as because of safety concerns and the number of homes included in the plan.
Hinzman said city staff doesn’t have a problem with the number of homes, but there’s a big problem on the stormwater front.
The Greg J. Homes plan seeks to utilize a large city-managed stormwater retention basin nearby rather than creating “on-site” filtration. The company in 2017 received approval for 30 lots at the same location with an on-site pond. That agreement expired, as the development didn’t occur in a year.
Hinzman told the council that the nearby pond Greg J. Homes seeks to utilize was put in for use in an earlier phase of the development in the early 2000s, before Minnesota’s stormwater rules were made more stringent.
City staff has sought information on drainage plans from Greg J. Homes but Hinzman said information received has been incomplete. He proposed a resolution that would allow the development to move stipulating that “stormwater drainage facilities must be incorporated within the proposed plat.”
Hinzman said the city requires that of all new developments.
“It’s a unique situation we’re in here,” Hinzman said, noting that if the council didn’t approve the plan, the developer would have to start over at step one with permitting and applications. Approving the resolution with the conteigencies that staff needs to approve the drainage plan would allow the development to move ahead will plans are put in place to address that.
“The time clock is ticking for us to make a decision,” said Hinzman. “We’re looking at this, and we’re taking a path forward allowing this to occur.”
Hinzman stressed use of the off-site pond for the development shouldn’t be allowed.
“That’s not on the table from the staff standpoint,” Hinzman said.
Council Member Mark Vaughn questioned why the matter was before the council if there’s still work to be doneon the plan.
“If we’ve asked multiple times and we’re still looking for the stormwater management play, why don’t we wait for it to be complete?” he asked.
Hinzman said the city is up against a timeline to make a decision based on when plans were submitted to the city.
“The time clock has run out on that,” Hinzman said. “It’s been frustrating the information has not been completely submitted.”
Council Member Tina Folch said the developer has raised the concern that because of the drainage pond on-site, that would require a homeowner’s association in the development, which would add costs to the starter homes proposed.
“The caveat is because of that particular little drainage pond, it’s going to require people that purchase them to become part of a homeowner’s association for the maintenance of that little stormwater pond,” said Folch. “Most people don’t want to be part of a homeowner’s association… I’ve never heard any say ‘Yay, I have a homeowner’s association. It’s a burden to those in it.”
Hinzman pointed out that other recent developments have a HOA. “This is not unusual. This is not unique,” he said. “We have made the decision that any ponding area in a neighborhood has to be maintained privately. It has to be maintained by a homeowner’s association.” Attorney Mark Thieroff represented Greg J. Homes in the meeting, and he said information requested by the city staff was onerous.
“One of the reasons for the delay is what our engineer terms ‘very extraordinary requests,” he said in why information requested by staff was taking additional time.
He predicted that with the addition of the HOA, the project may not move forward.
“It’s been a real mystery to us why there has been such pushback and reluctance,” he said.
City Administrator Dan Wietecha said the HOA isn’t a requirement on the city end, but the on-site pond would need to be maintained and there would need to be provisions for the ongoing maintenance.
“As John Hinzman pointed out, we’re presenting a path forward,” said Wietecha.
Council Member Trevor Lund said the HOA shouldn’t be that big of a problem.
“I live in an association. We have a pond in the neighborhood. It’s like 50 bucks a year. That pays for the overall maintenance,” Lund said. “I can’t see how this would detract from people buying a brand new house.”
Folch recommended tabling the issue so the two sides can come to agreement.
“I hear the staff’s frustration. I see it in your eyes you really want to move forward. It sounds like there’s been some contention on the two sides. I want both sides to be happy. I feel like staff has been trying really yard on their part,” she said. “It makes me a little uncomfortable to hear that there are these large remaining pieces.’ She said the council should “be mindful of the needs of our local developers and the enormous amount of resources they’re putting into our community.”
Vaughn said the plan has had plenty of time, and staff was laid out what needs to be done for the development to move forward.
“I’m out of time,” he said. “I highly recommend the developer accomplishes this is 60 days. If this comes before me again, I’m voting ‘no.’” Vaughn made the motion to approve the resolution presented by staff with the provision that the pond needs to be on-site.
The resolution passed unanimously.