Chair Mike Schell presided and called the meeting to order 4:00pm on Wednesday, June 9th, 2021. Committee Members present: Jeff Erickson, Mike Bishop and Bill Carlblom. Absent: Bobby Koepplin, James Wright and Joe Faure.
Others: City Attorney Carl Martineck, City Administrator Gwen Crawford, City Planner Joel Quanbeck, and Acting Secretary/City Assessor Sandy Hansen.
Audience members: Chad Petersen (KLJ), Tracy Eslinger (Moore Engineering), and Engineer Technician Dan Bernhardt (City of Valley City).
Mike Bishop moved to approve the Minutes of the May 12th, 2021 regular meeting, seconded by Bill Carlblom, followed by roll call and approval.
Decision regarding Valley City State University Center for the Arts variance application
The variance request was dropped by VCSU – no decision necessary.
Consider amendments to Titles 11 & 16 of the Valley City Municipal Code including official Zoning Map amendments. Discussion only.
Chair Schell turned the discussion over to City Planner Joel Quanbeck. After City Attorney Carl Martineck interjected that Quanbeck had met with the city staff the previous week regarding the zoning map changes and he has the support of city staff, Quanbeck proceeded. He pointed out the current map has zones marked in yellow and identified in the legend as Public, as well as areas indicated as Other, NA & FEMA – that are not referenced by the city’s ordinances, creating a ‘disconnect.’ The current map also does not have overlay districts showing the floodway, floodplain, and two zones related to the airport. Quanbeck created a new working map to address those issues and presented it to the board, high-lighting those areas – mostly public and government-owned parcels – where he recommended zoning changes more in line with their use and location. He also proposed a separate university zoning district for the VCSU parcels and some surrounding property. Martineck added that the biggest issues are when questions arise regarding what can and can’t be done on a property and there’s no ordinance definition; these changes would match the ordinance information on hand. Quanbeck went on to discuss zoning for the airport property and corrections to the ordinance regarding it, and the overlay districts for the floodway & 100-year floodplain. City Administrator Gwen Crawford wanted to be sure that non-conforming/non-compliant properties were brought into compliance either by rezoning or conditional-use permits prior to approval of the new zoning map; those issues will also be considered. Schell acknowledged that the book hadn’t been closed when the previous map was approved, and he was appreciative of Quanbeck’s efforts with these corrections.
Quanbeck moved on to proposed ordinance changes. Regarding off-street parking requirements, he suggested adding a section ‘e’ to the ordinance with language that would allow for more flexibility in determining the number of parking spaces needed for a business or area. Another issue was concerning setback requirements, especially when considering front yard decks. He offered some language that better defines and interprets the current ordinance; Martineck added this was being done to try and get away from ‘unwritten rules.’ Quanbeck said that other issues to consider pertaining to ‘rational consistency’ included: corner setbacks, setbacks for attached residences, lack of setbacks and yard requirements for detached single family residences in an R-4 district, and PUD setbacks. Discussion moved on to Public Land Dedication and Payment in Lieu requirements. Quanbeck suggested the current ordinance needs to be more definitive and needs to provide a basis for the Planning & Zoning recommendations. Currently there is no specific plan for parks of any size in any particular location; land dedication or payment in lieu from new developments would help fund what otherwise is hard to fund. Tracy Eslinger offered that other communities he has worked with had language where park amenities could be offered in lieu of payment – he added that any option should be payment ‘up front’ so the current residents of a new development could benefit from the contribution made.
The final topics were regarding sidewalks and apartment complexes. Quanbeck’s recommendation is that sidewalks should be required in new developments unless there’s a practical reason to not have them, or if it involves proposed developments with much larger lots similar to the rural estates allowed at other cities in the region. He suggested a master plan showing the area to be exempted would need to be approved first. Quanbeck commented the board should be consistent with the policy in place. Regarding apartment complex limitations, he noted that the existing ratio of lot size to unit number could be extended for larger complexes, and that would be the simplest thing to do to be consistent with regulations in an R-4 zoning district. He added that currently R-4 has no requirements for side-yard or front-yard setbacks for detached single family units; he said that because of the greater density, smaller but reasonable setbacks should be in place.
Chair Schell asked if some of these issues could be voted on in the July meeting to try and get some of it “off their plate.” Martineck reminded him that a public hearing would be needed for ordinance amendments; Quanbeck said there were some items at the red-line stage and he would have his recommendations ready for the next month.
Building Inspector Report
Interim Building Inspector Mike Blevins had sent the board an email outlining current building projects; a request was made to put the building inspector report first on the Planning & Zoning agendas from now on.
With no other items to discuss, Chair Schell called for the meeting to close at 5:41pm.
Submitted by: City Assessor Sandy Hansen, Acting Secretary