Medina looks ahead on zoning for senior housing

BY SUSAN VAN CLEAF
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS

The city of Medina is looking ahead to see where memory care and assisted living facilities might be located within the city.

On June 6, the Medina City Council reviewed a proposed ordinance that starts to address the situation, but councilors concluded that more work needs to be done. The biggest issue is regulations for various types of senior housing facilities in the Business-zoning district, where memory care and assisted living facilities are allowed.

Mayor Bob Mitchell summed up the issue when he asked, “If I were Polaris, would I want to be surrounded by a bunch of nursing homes?”

At the June 6 meeting, the City Council also took up other business.

SENIOR LIVING FACILITIES
City Planner Dusty Finke asked the council for feedback on a proposed ordinance amendment describing allowable land uses in the R-4 high-density residential zoning district. He expected the Met Council to approve Medina’s 2040
Comprehensive Plan in February, or thereabouts. That means that Medina’s zoning regulations would need to be in line with the new comp plan by August 2018.

Finke called high-density land use “one of the primary changes” in the new comp plan. Two small corners of Medina are proposed for high-density land use. One in the northeast corner of the city already has development. The second one is a 12-acre property at Highway 12 and County Road 29. Elim Care has presented a concept plan to the city for a combination independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing facility to sit on the site.

Finke said Elim Care needs to know sooner rather than later whether Medina would approve this type of facility for the site.

Meanwhile, Medina still had not heard whether the Metropolitan Council would count memory care and assisted living units as dwellings under the city’s 2040-comp plan, Finke said. The Met Council determination would affect Medina’s decision on the Elim Care proposal, which could fall into the high-density range of 12 to 15 units per acre.

Mayor Mitchell commented that memory care and assisted living units should be counted as dwelling units, even though they do not have stoves. “That’s why they (residents) are there,” he said.

Medina allows nursing homes and assisted living facilities in a number of zoning districts, Finke said. The Business district has available 257 net acres, Med Density Residential has 21 net acres and High Density Residential has 12 net acres. Uptown Hamel has seven vacant acres, but additional acreage could be redeveloped as High Density Residential.

Mitchell suggested that city staff “apply brain power” to regulations for nursing homes and assisted living in the Business District.

LED LIGHTING STUDY
The City Council enacted a one-year moratorium on LED lighting that is not downcast. This means the city can take no action on requests for unshielded Light Emitting Diode lighting. An example would be the bright blue border surrounding some signs for Holiday Stationstores.

LED lighting is being used increasingly for outdoor lighting, such as parking lot lights, street lights, internally illuminated signs and building accents. The moratorium does not apply to parking lot and street lights and other LED lights that are shielded.

The City Council also authorized city staff to study the best way to measure LED lighting, which can appear to be more intense than other types of lighting. The study would delve into units of measurement such as lumens, lux and watts.

City Attorney Ron Batty said lighting technology has changed and the city ordinance has not caught up with new technology. He thought it might be necessary for city staff to hire an electrical engineer to help with the LED study. Medina can remove the moratorium in less than a year, if the city completes the study and ordinance development ahead of time.

STREET IMPROVEMENTS
The City Council held public hearings on whether or not to do street improvements on segments of Clydesdale Trail, Wichita Trail and Willow Drive North. The council also held hearings on assessments to owners of benefitting properties. After the hearings, the council approved all three projects and the assessment rolls.

Medina assesses between 20 and 50 percent of total project costs to owners of properties benefitting from a street project. The percentage depends upon whether a street is a collector or neighborhood street.

The Clydesdale Trail project will affect five properties located east of County Road 116 — including the Medina Police/ Public Works facility. The work will include milling the street surface, an asphalt overlay and curb replacement. Estimated total cost is $69,723.

Estimated cost of the Wichita Trail project is $25,181. The street surface will get a milling and asphalt overlay. The affected area is south of Highway 55, stretching to the cul-de-sac.

Willow Drive north of Chippewa Trail will get an asphalt overlay at an estimated cost of $36,666.

OTHER
The City Council also appointed Kerby Nester to the Planning Commission for a two-year term and Aaron Amic for a nine-month term.

During the meeting, the Council also accepted the audit report of Medina’s 2016 finances. The accounting firm Abdo, Eick and Meyers gave the city an unmodified clean opinion.

The Council renewed liquor licenses for the Medina Entertainment Center, Inn Kahoots, Medina Golf Country Club, Our American Kitchen/ OAK Eatery, Baker National Golf Course, American Legion Post 394, Liquor Depot and Highway 55 Liquors. The renewals included Sunday off-sale liquor sales in several instances.

During the meeting, the Council directed staff to prepare a resolution approving a variance from the required setback of a septic system from a wetland on the Donald Dykhoff property at 3396 Elm Creek Drive.

Lastly, the Council also directed staff to prepare a resolution approving a conditional use permit for an accessory dwelling unit and larger accessory structure at 1325 Tamarack Drive. Robin Johnson requested the CUP.