Plan for Wyoming cell tower denied

City enacts moratorium to review ordinance

Alice Pickering
Wyoming Reporter

Verizon’s application for a conditional use permit to construct a wireless communications tower was denied by Wyoming City Council members April 15. The company proposed a 74-foot tower southwest of Comfort Lake at 7514 250th St. 

The application was first presented in February, but additional requested information did not arrive until shortly before the April 8 Planning Commission meeting. 

The basis for denial in the original application is that less restrictive zoning districts are preferred. In addition, commercial or industrial sites are preferred over residential sites. 

Maximum tower height in a residential area is 75 feet, with corresponding setback of 4 feet for each foot of tower height. The proposed tower would require 296 feet of setback. The plans show 150 feet of setback.  

The additional information provided before April 8 did not change the basis for denial of the conditional use permit. The recommendation came from the Planning Commission, with documents referencing the city’s zoning ordinance. Attorney Mark Vierling supported the decision. Petitions against the tower location were also part of the documents. The council vote was 4-0 for denial of the permit, with Steve Zerwas absent.

In related action, an interim ordinance placing a moratorium on conditional use permits for wireless communications facilities was approved. This is effective for 180 days. The Verizon representative who attended the meeting indicated that part of the city’s zoning ordinance was unclear or contradictory.  

Council Member Roger Elmore indicated that the Planning Commission wants to review the ordinance as soon as possible. According to the ordinance, commercial property is where these structures should be located, Vierling said. 

Council Member Linda Yeager asked if there is a way to fast-track the research. An estimate of time for a meaningful review is not less than 60 days, according to Vierling. The vote was 3-1. Council Member Joe Zerwas voted no because he does not want to prevent other business opportunities.

Other business

Questions about street repairs surfaced during the meeting’s open forum. The only project scheduled this year is repair of Greenway Avenue. Total for this project is estimated at $2.12 million with most funding coming from state aid dollars through the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Part of the drainage improvements will be paid by the city. The Water Management Fund will kick in $118,783. All residents pay $8 a year into this fund.

Questions were raised about assessing for street work. Some speakers believed last year’s defeated bond referendum indicated a willingness to be assessed for part of the street improvement program. City Administrator Craig Mattson said the defeat of the bond sale was not a vote for assessments.  

The conditions of the streets west of the freeway are particularly poor, so assessments would hit these residents hard. To assess for improvements, the city would face the hard task of demonstrating similar increase in value to property as a result of the work. Mattson said some street projects are budgeted for 2015.

The city’s Park Board has been restructured.  Elmore recommended approval of a five-member board. The board previously had seven members. Some were re-appointed. The revamped board now includes Bob Benyon, Carol Hein, Tammy Liljedahl, Claire Luger and Frank Storm. The vote was 3-1. Yeager wanted to review the revised by-laws before voting on membership.  

Council members unanimously approved a parking site plan at 26787 Forest Blvd. The 3,000-square-foot area is next to County Road 30. 

April 1 meeting

At the April 1 Wyoming City Council meeting, Councilman Steve Zerwas reported that the Chisago Lakes Joint Sewage Treatment Commission accepted via a split vote a proposal from an international company to evaluate the effectiveness of operations at the treatment plant.  

There is no cost to the commission for the survey from Veolia Environmental Services. The company may be able to find ways to operate the treatment plant more efficiently.  

Council Member Joe Zerwas was concerned that employees’ jobs could be threatened. According to Steve Zerwas, any proposal for managing operations would involve current employees. 

In other business, the city is seeking quotes for the budgeted 2014 crack filling and seal-coating projects on 257th Street west of Highway 61. The plans and specifications for the projects are complete. 

A retirement party for Public Works employee Jerry Headly took place April 4. The council authorized Public Works Supervisor Jason Windingstad to begin the selection process. Windingstad anticipates selecting four or five candidates from the 54 on the department’s eligibility list. 

Councilwoman Linda Yeager briefed the council on an update the Rush Line Task Force received on its pre-project development study. A request for proposals for a strategic communications consultant was approved. The estimated $50,000 fee would be proportionately split between counties involved. The Chisago County share would be 5.25 percent of the total, or $2,625. Ramsey County’s share is more than 80 percent of the total. 

The May 20 council meeting was rescheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. This is to avoid conflict with the school district referendum. According to state law, no meetings can be held between 6-8 p.m. on the day of an election.