Guns, housing on Linwood agenda

Amy Doeun
Linwood Reporter

Planning and Zoning Administrator Mike Jungbauer reported to the Linwood Town Board at its May 23 meeting that Linwood Township staff believed a new firearm ordinance was ready for enactment.

“It went back to Planning and Zoning (Board) with additional wording,” Jungbauer said. “They approved it and sent it back to the Town Board for approval.”

The board approved the ordinance.

Before the vote, Jungbauer went over the ordinance’s basics.

“(The Planning and Zoning Board) wanted to eliminate BB guns and airguns in the definition of firearms,” he said. “In short, (the ordinance) regulates the shooting of firearms, the time of day and how many hours of day. There is a ban (for) some of our smaller lots. We have had people use a shotgun at squirrels on a 50-foot lot. They also have to stop projectiles at the property line. We don’t tell people how to do that, but there are a lot of resources online.”

City Attorney Bob Ruppe suggested sending a courtesy letter with a copy of the new ordinance to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office to let deputies know about a new enforcement issue. Jungbauer said that is what he has done in the past and the sheriff’s office was aware that the city was working on the ordinance.

Rental ordinance

The Town Board approved chapters in a new rental property ordinance. Jungbauer said this will allow the city to monitor and maintain rental properties.

“It helps property owners and the township,” he said. “Now we have an inspection program and (property owners) can use (state) vouchers; we haven’t been able to do this before.”

Supervisor Mike Halliday said the permit and inspection fees would help cover the cost of inspections, “so we weren’t sending out our building inspectors for free.”

Probably the most important feature of the new ordinance is a focus on safety, Jungbauer said.

“We have had some rescues at homes that were not properly (set up as a rental property),” he said. “There were no egress windows, windows and doors too small.”

A goal of this ordinance, he said, is making sure rental properties are safe for all the residents.

Senior housing

Tom Carlisle owns a tract of land in Linwood near Viking Boulevard that is currently zoned commercial and asked if the Town Board would consider allowing senior housing on this land. In his concept plan, Carlisle proposed a series of duplexes that could either be sold or rented out for senior housing. Halliday said that he would prefer to see a more complex plan.

Jungbauer said that a study showed a need for senior housing in the area. Because of this study, the town would be able to zone it as senior housing and require everyone who lives there be over a certain age.

However, Halliday didn’t like the idea of giving up commercial space.

“I think if we are going to take commercial land and rezone it, then we need to find more commercial elsewhere,” he said.

Jungbauer replied, “Commercial zoning is demographic driven; people need to find something that they can make money at in those areas.”

“I think we should let Planning and Zoning know that we would consider something like this,” Supervisor Ed Kramer added. “I think this is a good spot. It is close to the elementary school. Seniors like to volunteer at schools. There are two churches in the area and is accessible to the community center.”

Ruppe said another concern is the density of the proposal.

“We need to think about a community treatment plan; normal septic won’t work,” he said. “The problem I see with the (homeowners association) is that the (association) doesn’t know how to handle it or they are really gung ho at the beginning. They need to factor in the cost of maintaining the system for perpetuity. If they don’t have a high enough rate to pay for maintenance costs or the (association) doesn’t have the ability to collect for people that don’t pay, eventually they step in and ask the town to come in and fix it.

“I recommend that the Town Board be involved in the very beginning. You can hire a contractor to manage it from the beginning and assess the homeowners.”

Another complication, according to Jungbauer, is the town currently has no zoning for senior housing.

“I don’t know if it is something I agree with or not,” Carol Searing said. “The Carlisles own the land, and they can do what they want with it.”

Halliday and Supervisor Bob Millerbernd didn’t like the idea. Supervisor Tim Peterson leaned more toward a larger complex.

Kramer said that a larger complex with apartments would require a sprinkler system that would make it very cost prohibitive to build and later for the seniors to buy.

“I am even more against it because I don’t want low-income housing,” Halliday said.

Kramer replied: “The Met Council is always telling us that we need to have low-income housing, and low-income senior housing is way better than other kinds of low-income housing. They could be rentals or purchased.”

In the end, Kramer was the lone voice in favor of the senior housing complex as proposed by Carlisle. In a straw vote, Searing refrained from making a decision, with Halliday and MIllerbernd opposed and Peterson saying he would prefer a larger complex.