Medina Council looks at wetland setbacks, conservation zoning

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During the regular meeting of the Mednia City Council on June 20, the Council discussed rear yard setbacks from a wetland, amendments to the city’s conservation design zoning ordinance and other business.

The City Council approved an amendment to Medina’s zoning ordinances that reduces the required rear yard setback for homes in the Multi-Family Residential zoning district when the property abuts common areas or open space.

City Planner Dusty Finke explained Brian Fragodt’s request for the amendment. Fragodt owns a twin home at 3500 Pinto Drive. He proposed rebuilding the twin home and expanding the existing deck at the rear of the building. The Multi-Family Residential zone requires a 40-foot rear yard setback. Fragodt’s remodeled structure, as proposed, would encroach into the 40-foot required setback.

Fragodt had considered requesting a variance, Finke said. However, city staff advised him that it would be difficult for him to justify a hardship for a variance.

Meanwhile, the twin home association owns 16 acres containing a large wetland abutting the rear of the Fragodt property. Fragodt requested an amendment to the zoning ordinance that would reduce the minimum rear yard setback to 20 feet, if a home is adjacent to open space.

Finke said open space that abuts a property generally serves the same purpose as a larger rear yard setback.

After hearing from Finke, the council approved the zoning ordinance amendment.

For several months, the City Council and city staff have been tweaking Medina’s conservation design zoning ordinance. Under this ordinance, a developer can ask the city to approve a planned unit development that has natural areas preserved in perpetuity for the enjoyment of the public. In exchange for these conservation easements, the developer can ask for a density bonus that would allow him to construct more homes per acre than are allowed under regular zoning regulations in the Rural Residential and sewered residential districts.

On June 20, Planner Finke presented to the council a revised ordinance that says a conservation design may be considered for commercial or business zoning districts, as well as residential districts.

Mayor Bob Mitchell and City Councilor John Anderson asked Finke to include a 2.5-acre minimum lot size in the ordinance. Mitchell said he was concerned that people would want to build large structures on small lots. He also feared that available land on a small lot would not accommodate a secondary site for a septic tank, if the original septic would fail.

City Councilor Kathleen Martin disagreed with including a minimum lot size. She said the purpose of a planned unit development is to give the city and the developer flexibility in planning what would happen on a site. The hands of future city councils would be tied, if they were constrained by a 2.5-acre lot size.

The City Council voted 4 to 1 to direct Finke to include a 2.5-acre minimum lot size in the conservation design ordinance amendment. Martin voted, “No.”

During the meeting, the City Council also extended the deadline for Jeff Pederson and 4412 JKP LLC to file a final plat for the Woods of Medina subdivision. The new deadline is March 31, 2018.

The Council approved an agreement between Medina and Hennepin County for participation in the Urban Hennepin County Community Development Block Grant Program for fiscal year 2018 – 2020.

Also during the June 20 meeting, the Council renewed a contract between Medina and Southwest Assessing for assessment services in 2018. This means that Rolf Erickson will continue to serve as Medina’s assessor.

The council also approved an agreement with Sunrise Painting & Wallcovering, of Medina, for painting the exterior of the old public works building located behind Medina City Hall at a cost of $7,400.

Medina City Councilmembers also approved an operation and maintenance agreement with Jan’s Lawn and Landscape for German Liberal Cemetery.

Lastly, the Council approved an agreement with Joe Kittock under which he will continue to serve as custodian of German Liberal Cemetery.