Scandia OK’s scenic viewsheds guidelines

Mary Bailey
Scandia Reporter

In a unanimous vote, at their Tuesday, May 15 meeting the Scandia City Council adopted the new “Guidelines for the Protection of Scandia’s Scenic Viewsheds.”

Planning Commission Chair Christine Maefsky presented the document to the council. The goals, she said, were to preserve Scandia’s scenic, natural and historical heritage; to enhance the city’s natural beauty; to maintain attractive entrance points; and to improve the economic vitality of the community.

Mayor Randall Simonson asked whether the guidelines would limit property owners, for example, a farmer who decides to tear down a no-longer-serviceable barn. “As much as we value barns,” Maefsky said, “it will in no way impact” a farmer in that situation.

The guidelines are voluntary, she explained, having no affect on property owners who are not seeking incentives when developing land. Only incentives are used, not regulation. The exception is a cell tower, which is limited in height and design if located in a designated scenic corridor.

The scenic viewshed document was created by volunteers. Maefsky’s committee included planning commission members and other interested citizens who met six times beginning in May of 2011. It was reviewed by City Attorney Thomas Miller, who made no changes.

“If I don’t have comments, it’s a very well-written document,” he said.

How It Started

The guidelines grew out of a comprehensive plan goal to protect scenic rural roads, viewpoints and vistas from visually intrusive or incompatible development.

The city will use the guidelines when reviewing proposed open space conservation developments. Developers who preserve an identified scenic view can be given permission to sell more lots than the zoning ordinarily allows.

The council approved increasing the density bonus for scenic views from 10 percent to 25 percent.

Other landowners may also benefit. For example, the city can allow flexibility in setback requirements to help preserve a scenic view, or a property could be designated a “Scandia Scenic Heritage Partner” in recognition of private efforts to preserve the character.

The document lists by name and address, including GPS coordinates, 39 sites on the main corridors through the city:  Scandia Trail, St. Croix Trail, Manning Avenue, Lofton Avenue, Mayberry Trail, Olinda Trail, and Oakhill Road. It also gives procedures developers can use to request designation of other scenic views.

Clerical Support

The Scandia Park and Recreation Committee will get clerical support

In the future, city staff will prepare and mail out packets to members of the committee before each meeting. This way committee members will know the agenda and have the necessary background information. City staff will also record what happens at the meetings.

A committee member had been assigned the task of keeping minutes. “It’s hard to do the minutes and be part of the meeting,” Committee Chair Alex Bildeaux said.

The informal nature of park and recreation meetings was an issue last month when several people showed up at a council work session to discuss the April 2 meeting. The change was supported by City Administrator Anne Hurlburt.

“One of the issues [in April] was, what did we decide last time?” she said.

Staff-prepared meeting packets and minutes are current practice for council and planning commission meetings.

Council support was unanimous. “A lot of them are park and recreation enthusiasts, but not necessarily paper enthusiasts,” said Sally Swanson, council liaison to the park committee. The new by-laws will be reviewed in June.

The council also appointed a new member to the park committee.  Pam Arnold, a self-employed graphic designer and organic farmer, designed the Scandia community market logo.

Fire Department

Six new paid-on-call probationary firefighters will join the department June 2.  The council approved the hiring of Michael Frank, David Mead, Todd Roe, Eric Rydeen, Aaron Sipola and Peter Weber, after they complete medical and drug testing.  They have passed the physical exam.

Fire Chief Jim Finnegan said the department responded to eight fire calls and 11 medical calls in April. The state Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board has approved the license for Lakeview EMS to provide advanced life support ambulance service to Scandia, and a contract specifying the living arrangements at the Scandia Fire Hall is being written.


The council approved an updated contract with SRC for recycling. The city pays $27,846 per year for residents’ curbside recycling service, the same price since 2001.

SRC’s Rick Prahl reported that the amount of material recycled in Scandia increased from 2010 to 2011, but the volume collected on May 5, Heavy Metal Day, was down significantly. A church recycling event about the same time may have had an impact.

Prahl said bottles that break during processing no longer have to go to a landfill, as he has found a market for broken glass that is lead-free. He accepts narrow-necked bottles and jars, and some bottles break at each step, he said.  Window glass, which has lead, and automotive safety glass, which has plastic, cannot be recycled, he said.

Other News

Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Majeski reported April crimes including a dog bite on Olinda Trail, identify theft, a vehicle break-in at Wind in the Pines Park, and a case of fraud. “And someone decided to relocate the NO PARKING signs on Copas Landing,” he added.

The council appointed Stantec’s Phil Gravel as city engineer to replace Ryan Goodman, and approved the plans and specifications for 2012 road repair.

The Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau contract was renewed. Scandia will pay $5,500 again this year for health, social, and recreational services. This is the same amount paid annually since 2009.

Alyssa Carlson will return as tennis instructor and Matt Melo as skateboarding instructor for the city’s summer recreation program.

The council approved appointing Chris Ness and Jim Schneider as chair and vice chair of the wastewater advisory committee, and the resignation of Swanson.  New members Brad Bergo and Doug Salmela were also appointed.

Building Official Keith Wille, in his written report, said eight permits were issued in April, with the work valued at $59,027.

New Maintenance Superintendent Tim Kieffer was at the meeting, his second day on the job.