P & Z Minutes - May 4, 2017

May 4, 2017


May 4, 2017

Pursuant to due call and notice thereof, a regular meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission of the City of Saint Peter was conducted in the Governors' Room of the Community Center on May 4, 2017.  A quorum present, Chairperson Andy Davis called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m.  The following Commissioners were present:  Davis, Joe Urban, Ken Rossow, Scott Fichtner, Kelly Henry, Jeff Brand and John Kvamme.  Visitor present was Jim Halbur representing Northern Con-Agg.  City staff present were Community Development Director Russ Wille and Administrative Secretary Cindy Moulton. 

Approval of Agenda – A motion was made by Rossow, seconded by Urban, to approve the agenda as presented.  With all in favor, the agenda was approved.

Approval of Minutes – A motion was made by Kvamme, seconded by Rossow, to approve the minutes of the Regular April 16, 2017.  With all voting aye, the minutes were approved as presented.

Outlot A Halletts Pond

Wille stated that Northern Con-Agg has submitted a Rezoning Request in order to rezone Outlot A, Hallett Pond Addition, from (C-4) Highway Service Commercial to (C-5) Business / Professional Office. He stated that Northern Con-Agg attempted to have the same property rezoned to (R3) Multi-Family Residential which was denied by the City Council.

Wille explained that the 2013 plat of Hallett Pond Addition created a single development parcel known as Lot 1, Block 1 upon which the Shopko store was constructed.  He said that the balance of the Northern Con-Agg LLP was established as Outlots and that they are not individually developable until additional plats of the Outlots are submitted, approved, and recorded.

Northern Con-Agg, LLP believes that Outlot A, Hallett Pond Addition is not ideal for future highway retail commercial development because of its lack of sufficient visibility and single point of access.  Wille stated that Northern Con-Agg, LLP consulted with commercial/industrial realtors familiar with the local commercial market and they believe Outlot A could be more appropriately marketed and developed under the (C-5) Business / Professional Office conditions and regulations.

Jim Halbur of Coldwell Bank/Fischer Realty, representing Northern Con-Agg, LLP, addressed the Commission and indicated that they are unable to find a buyer for the property behind Shopko as there is a lack of visibility.  He noted that he has attempted to market the property for a number of years and that there has been little interest or activity to develop the parcel for Highway Commercial purposes. 

Halbur noted that his client (Northern Con-Agg, LLP) owns the only (C-4) Highway Service Commercial zoned property in Saint Peter without a direct vehicular access to either Old Minnesota Avenue or Minnesota Avenue (Highway #169).

Halbur noted that there is only one (C-5) Business / Professional Office zoned property listed for sale at this time in Saint Peter.  That 4.4 acre property is on the northwest quadrant of the Broadway Avenue and Sunrise Drive intersection.  Halbur noted that while this property is zoned C-5, it is not located within a well-developed commercial district as is the property in question.  The Outlot A location, within a retail and service businesses district will have the neighboring businesses which would support its future development.

Wille noted that the 2016 Comprehensive Plan contemplates the acquisition of a modest parcel adjoining Hallett Pond for the development of a small park.  The Public Works department is currently seeking DNR funding to establish a fishing pier at Hallett Pond.  The rezoning to (C-5) Business / Professional Office would preserve the City’s ability to develop a small park in the future.

Henry asked what type of business would purchase the piece of property.  He said if the property were rezoned as requested the property could be marketed for uses alternative to those included in the current zoning classification.

Wille noted that if the rezoning were approved, the property could be developed for any of the “Permitted Uses” listed in the Business / Professional Office roster.  If the property were to be developed for a “Conditional Use”, there would need to be additional notice and public hearings to consider appropriate conditions to place upon the proposed use.

Rossow asked if the Shopko property was sold by Northern Con-Agg.  Halbur indicated that they did sell the property to Cocca Development which leases the real estate to Shopko. 

Rossow also asked what Halbur envisioned if the property were zoned C-5.  Halbur stated that if the property was rezoned, there would be a larger inventory of possible businesses.  The rezoning would allow the property to be marketed as an alternative to the C-4 zoned property which predominate the immediate area.

Kvamme did not think it made any sense to rezone to C-5 since everything that is included in C-5 is included in C-4.  He stated he did not the lack of control over the type of development that could occur on the lot.

Brand felt that housing on this particular lot made perfect sense. 

Urban asked if the lots on the east side of Hallett Pond (north of Shopko) were available and on the market.  He wondered why there was so much focus on this lot.  He said that nobody is buying prime lots.

Davis felt there was a certain urgency to get the property developed.  He indicated that he would vote for the rezoning as it would open up more possibilities.

Rossow said he would like to see the property on the tax rolls.  He did say that he had reservations about any residential development.

A motion was made by Brand, seconded by Urban to introduce Resolution No. 2017-05 entitled, “Resolution Recommending An Amendment To Saint Peter City Code Chapter 24 By Rezoning Outlot A, Hallett Pond Addition From (C-4) Highway Service Commercial To (C-5) Business/Professional Office District”.  Members Davis, Urban, Rossow, Fichtner, Henry, and Brand voting aye, Member Kvamme voting nay, the Resolution was passed and adopted.

Commercial Creep

Discussion was held regarding commercial creeping into residential areas along Highway 169. Wille asked if the Commission felt it was worthwhile to take an inventory of the properties. Wille suggested undertaking an inventory of residential properties along Highway #169. 

Kvamme felt that the City needs to maintain control of future Highway #169 development and provide for the maintenance and preservation of the residential properties, many of which have historic and aesthetic value.

Henry suggested the City look at other historical communities such as Stillwater and Red Wing to see how they keep a balance between residential and commercial.

Kvamme and Brand did not feel an inventory was necessary.  Brand’s main concern is what would happen to the homes. 

Brand stated that he was disgusted with the way the Mary’s Flowers property looks.  He felt there should be some rules to force the property owners to do something.  Wille noted that the City does not have a “minimum maintenance” ordinance which would order certain building improvements.  Wille suggested, that like the former “Mom & Pop’s” building, the City would need to determine that an imminent public health or safety risk exists before demo or improvements could be ordered.  Wille will check with the Community Service Office of the police department to see if she could order that the building openings be secured.

It was determined that the proper course of action at this time would be to visit and consult with municipal colleagues in Red Wing, Northfield and Stillwater to inquire as to how their community maintains a balance between residential historical preservation and commercial development pressures.

Public Comment Opportunity Policy

Wille recommended that the Planning & Zoning Commission use the same policy as the City Council regarding public comment.  

Kvamme expressed concern that the speaker has no idea who they are addressing when speaking.  It was suggested that the Planning & Zoning members introduce themselves at the beginning of the meeting and that the Commission obtain name plates to display at meetings.

A motion was made by Kvamme, seconded by Kelly to adopt the same public comment policy as the City Council.  All members voting aye, the Motion carried.  Wille will add a public comment opportunity to the June Planning Commission agenda.


1115 South Minnesota Avenue (Rezoning Petition) – The City Council approved the rezoning of 1115 South Minnesota Avenue from (RP-1) Residential / Professional Office to (C-4) Highway Service Commercial.  Wille stated that there is no pending development of the site pending given that a potential tenant of the property has withdrawn from the project.

Granny Pods – Wille reported that he has yet to find a community that is willing to allow Granny Pods.  Communities have yet to see the value. 

Wille noted concerns with establishing such housing units in a northern climate subject to freezing temperatures.  Given that underground water lines are subject to freezing, the utilization of a garden hose as a source of water would not work during the winter months. 

Wille also noted that the small side yards in the older portions of the community would make it impossible or extremely difficult to access a backyard Granny Pod when the septic tank would need to be pumped.

Fichtner felt that once a Granny Pod is on a property, it would be hard to get it removed.  He felt that Granny Pods work better in a rural area.

Rossow expressed a concern that the use of a Granny Pod could have an adverse impact upon the property values of adjacent parcels.

Brand disagreed with the opposition to Granny Pods.  He suggested that it would be advantageous for Saint Peter residents to have this option available to address the failing health of a family member. 

A motion was made by Rossow, seconded by Kelly not to pursue granny pods.  Members Davis, Urban, Rossow, Fichtner, Henry, and Kvamme voting in favor of the motion.  Commissioner Brand, noting his disappointment, voted in opposition to the motion.  Motion carried on a 6-1 vote.


There being no further business, a motion was made by Urban, seconded by Brand, to adjourn.  With all in favor, the motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 7:04 p.m.