Minutes - October 1, 2012
Saturday, October 13, 2012 10:40 AM


Land Use Committee Meeting Minutes

October 1, 2012

Java Train


Members Present: Chris Harkness, Linda Hinderscheit, Kim Moon, Tom Eyre, Curt Stock, Betsy Wehrwein and Bill Sylvester

Staff Present: Jessie Bronk

Others Present:    Roxanne Crowson, John Crowson and Ben Kantor

Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m. 

Adoption of Agenda: Motion to approve the agenda (Eyre-Harkness) Passed.

Approval of Minutes: Motion to approve the minutes of the 08/27/2012 meeting. Tabled (copies were not available at tonight's meeting).


Recycling Business: John Crowson, owner of Pallet Removal, was present to talk about his business recycling wood pallets at 1607 Breda. He has applied for a license. The Dept. of Safety and Inspections notified Land Use in case there were any objections to the issuance of the license. The pallets were stored outside, but the fire marshal said they were stored too close to the homes in the area. Pallets are currently stored inside the building.  He currently takes the pallets he acquires to a pallet company. He also recycles some machinery parts from washers and dryers, which he stores in buckets. Some of the items he recycles contain hazardous materials, such as mercury. He also takes metal shelving, which has no hazardous materials. He rents the property from J.O. Thompson. Kim Moon had seen quite a lot of trash on the property; however, this trash is not from John Crowson's business, but from Bathfitters. One neighbor in the area asked about the possible increase of truck traffic or a hazardous environment for his children and those in the neighborhood. The licensing application specifies that only one entrance to the property can be used, and John Crowson foresees no increase in truck traffic. A neighbor asked if a fence that once existed would be replaced.  Kim Moon is going to call Dan Thompson, the owner of the property, to talk to him about the fence, the trash, and the storage of materials outdoors, which is within 300 feet of residential homes, by another business in the area. A public hearing for licensing is being held. If there are objections, they need to be submitted by October 5th. No neighbors present at tonight's meeting had objections to licensing this business. If DSI receives no objections, the license will be approved. We do not need to write a letter of support.


Non Conforming Use Public Hearing: The Planning Commission wishes to be given more flexibility to address nonconforming uses of land. The existing consent petition requirement for nonconforming use permits, is that the owners of two-thirds of the properties within 100 ft. sign a consent petition before a hearing can be held. The Planning Commission states that this becoming more burdensome on applicants for the following reasons: 1.) Many properties are owned by financial institutions in other states or countries, and 2.) Language and cultural barriers exist in some neighborhoods that make explaining the request more difficult. Since a sufficient petition is a prerequisite for an application to be accepted, those wishing to rehabilitate properties are prevented from making their case at a public hearing if they are not able to obtain a sufficient number of signatures. The commission is recommending reducing the number of signatures from two-thirds to a simple majority (51%) (to a maximum of 20 signatures) as part of the proposed amendments.


The committee decided that we needed more information about the types of properties that would be affected (residential, commercial, institutional) including the original proposal and supporting documents from other District councils. Jessie will research this and provide us with more information.  We tabled the issue for tonight. The public hearing is October 17th, so we will need come to a conclusion about our action on this issue before then.


(Note: The committee received more information the day after this meeting. The proposal to reduce the required number of signatures to grant a nonconforming use permit applies to commercial as well as residential property. The committee decided to stand with several other district councils and oppose the Planning Commission’s proposal. Kim Moon will draft a letter to be sent after approval from the board at the October 16 meeting.  It will be sent to the Planning Commission.)


Removal of Trees on Energy Park Drive: Energy Park Utility Company has requested a permit to install district heating piping within the south side of the Energy Park Drive right of way between Snelling Avenue and Lexington Parkway. The plan, as submitted, would result in the removal of thirty (30) trees from the public right of way: included are; 28 linden (8” – 16" diameter) and two Honeylocust, (9” diameter).  Typically, the Department of Parks and Recreation would recommend against issuing the requested permit because of the impending impact on trees. In meetings with representatives for the permittee and Public Works Right of Way staff, limitations imposed on this project because of existing buried utility conveyances in the public way were discussed. The permittee has given verbal assurances that the replacement of removed trees could be built into the project. Any buried utility in the green space of Energy Park Drive would have to guarantee that the presence of the utility does not preclude tree landscaping.

Motion: We recommend that the request be granted provided there is a written agreement to replace all 30 trees with trees that are at least 8” in diameter (size of the smallest trees being removed) (Harkness-Sylvester). Passed.

Kim will write an action item to submit to the Executive Committee for inclusion on a future agenda. 


Sholom Home Ad Hoc Committee:  On Aug. 22nd, Rhett McSweeney, owner of Traditions (former Sholom Home property), filed an appeal to the City of St. Paul’s designation of Traditions as a vacant property. District 10 Community Council Chair Jon Knox wrote a letter and attended the meeting to support the City's designation of Traditions as a vacant property. There have been many community concerns regarding this property, with current owner, Rhett McSweeney, not following up on invitations to discuss community concerns at Council meetings. The Hearing Officer's decision was to recommend denial of Rhett McSweeney's appeal to the City Council. The Executive Committee approved Jon's letter and it was affirmed by a vote of the full board. At tonight’s meeting, Linda Hinderscheit proposed the reinstitution of an ad hoc committee (similar to the former Sholom Home ad hoc Committee) to monitor developments at Traditions. The majority of the Land Use committee felt there was not enough information at this time regarding the mission of such a committee and potential membership.

Motion: As a first step, the District Plan ad hoc Committee will attempt to communicate with the owner of Tradtions St. Paul to determine its present status and plans for the future. (Sylvester-Stock). Passed.

New Business:  Bill Sylvester presented information about the Snelling Ave. Multimodal Study. There is discussion of removing the Snelling Ave. bridge over Como Ave. and making the intersection on the same level. Included would be realignment of other streets in the area.

Revised Metropolitan Transit Commission Transportation Plan: Chris Harkness offered her opinion that the official rational is that there are more people served if the buses, which serve the Lexington Ave. route, turn on Horton and go up Hamline past the park instead of directly up Lexington through the park.

Motion: Write a letter to the Metropolitan Council to express the following: While the most recent Metropolitan Transit Commission Transportation Plan is an improvement over the previous proposal, we would like to see the following changes: Continue the route on Lexington Avenue through Como Park (improving access to that area of Como Park); serving residential areas along Lexington Ave. north of Como Park that are not now well served by convenient bus routes; and continue on Lexington through Roseville to better serve shopping areas, park and rides and the residents of Roseville, improving access to the light rail. If Lexington Avenue is used, all residents of District 10 will be within 1/2 mile of bus access to the Light Rail.  (Sylvester-Eyre). Passed.

An action item will be submitted to the Executive Committee for action by the board.

Adjournment: Motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:03 p.m. (Eyre-Stock). Passed.

Future Meeting Dates:  The next meeting is Monday, November 5, 2012, at Java Train.

Additional meeting dates (Mondays at Java Train unless noted otherwise):

·         December 3

Minutes recorded by Linda R. Hinderscheit, Committee Member

These minutes are not official until approved.

District 10 Como Community Council | 1224 Lexington Pkwy N, Saint Paul, MN 55103 | 651.644.3889 | district10 [at] district10comopark.org

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