Scandia council considers code changes

Will revisit issue in October


Mary Bailey
Community Editor

After approving another permit for a two-story garage, the Scandia council discussed making the city code less restrictive.

At the Sept. 17 meeting the council considered changes recommended by the planning commission. “When you’re granting a lot of variances for the same thing, it’s time to look at your code,” City Planner Sherri Buss said.

Compared to neighboring cities, Scandia allows fewer buildings and less total square footage, and is the only city requiring a conditional use permit for a two-story garage.

The planning commission said allowing a second story in a garage for storage, play or office space can be beneficial in limiting total lot coverage, especially important on small lakeshore lots.

The new ordinance would require instead that accessory structures may not include a dwelling unit and may not be taller than the house.

It would also increase the square footage for accessory structures. On 3- to 5-acre lots, outbuildings could cover 2,500 square feet. Lots 5 to 10 acres could have 3,000 square feet plus an agricultural building. Lots 10 to 20 acres could have 6,000 square feet and two agricultural buildings.

The planning commission also recommended that a detached garage, up to 24 by 36 feet, not be counted in the square footage, so that attached and detached garages are treated the same.

Council member Jim Schneider questioned the height restriction. “A three-story house can have a tall garage, but the rambler next door cannot,” he said, even though both owners may need to store a boat or RV.

Schneider also noted conflicts between state and city rules for agricultural buildings.

Council member Sally Swanson asked whether prohibiting a second dwelling would mean no mother-in-law apartments. With the downturn in the economy, she said, families may need to share a home with seniors or young adults.

“Our whole code precludes that,” Buss replied. “That’s a comprehensive plan-level issue.”

The council will continue its discussion at the Oct. 15 meeting.

Other actions

The council authorized prepayment of fire hall bonds issued in 2005. On Dec. 1 the city will prepay $65,000 due in 2014 and $110,000 due in 2015. This was planned as part of funding a new fire truck without raising the levy.

Fire Chief Mike Hinz was given the go-ahead to add red lights and a siren to his personal vehicle. This way he can respond directly to emergencies without going to the fire station and waiting for a crew. Estimated costs were $2,000 for equipment and $10 a year for liability insurance.

Speed limits in the Bliss Development that were reduced by MnDOT in 1974 have been restored. Parts of 185th, 189th and 191st streets, Langley Avenue and Langly Court, Layton Avenue and Layton Court and Lamar Avenue had a 20 mph speed limit.

They will revert to the statutory 30 mph for residential streets, saving the city money when aging speed limit signs need not be replaced.

The council reduced the number of members on the Wastewater Advisory Committee to seven:  Brad Bergo, Holly Kaufold, Dan Cartier, Doug Salmela, Wayne Schmidt, Chris Ness and Jim Schneider. This list includes two representatives from each system (Bliss, Anderson/Erickson and Uptown) and a council member.

The council also approved the following:

– bylaws and commissioner terms for the Economic Development Authority

– a step increase in a maintenance worker salary to $21.46 per hour

– an agreement with the Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau with annual payment of $5,500

– a social host ordinance prohibiting adults from allowing underage drinking

– renewing the Safe Assure safety training at a cost of $3,087 (up from $2,900 this year)

– moving council work sessions to Wednesdays

– adopting a storm water management plan

– allowing a variance so that a garage can be built closer to the road than city ordinance allows, to avoid disturbing steep slopes.

  • Consistency is great in local government decision making but freedom is often better. It is a wise decision Scandia has made to change their policy on these building ordinances.