5.15.2021 Planning and Zoning Minutes

     Chair Mike Schell presided and called the meeting to order 4:00pm on Wednesday, May 12th, 2021. Committee Members present: Jim Wright, Jeff Erickson, Joe Faure, Bobby Koepplin, Mike Bishop and Bill Carlblom. 

     Others: City Attorney Carl Martineck, City Administrator Gwen Crawford, City Planner Joel Quanbeck, Acting Secretary Sandy Hansen, Building Inspectors Mike Blevins and Lance Coit. 

     Audience members: Chad Petersen (KLJ), Jan Reed, Bruce Hoyt, Arvid Winkler, Tracy Eslinger (Moore), John Hill, Jeff Nathan, and Wesley Wintsch (VCSU). Attending by Zoom: Mike Strom, Steve Nagle, Kelly Kohn, Jennifer Stainbrook, Lela & Ray Grim, Matt Pedersen.

     Jim Wright moved to approve the Minutes of the April 14th, 2021 regular meeting, seconded by Bill Carlblom, followed by roll call and approval.

Public Hearing for petition to vacate 15th Ave NE between East Main and 2nd St NE

            Chair Mike Schell opened the public hearing. Bruce Hoyt, the developer for the project, reported that property owners on both sides of the vacated street (Tim Durheim for Smith Lumber and George Gaukler for Valley Lumber) were in agreement that the project go forward. With no other public comments, Bobby Koepplin moved to close the public hearing with Joe Faure seconding and roll call approval. 

     Schell opened internal discussion. Koepplin asked Hoyt if plans are to keep the street a drive-through, and Hoyt replied that nothing will change. Commenting that this action would take that portion of the street off City hands, Koepplin moved to recommend to the City Commission approval of the vacation with Wright seconding and unanimous board approval.

Public Hearing for application to amend a Planned Unit Development (PUD) and replat for Outlot Y Harvest Valley Townhomes Subdivision

      Chair Schell opened the public hearing. As there were no public comments, Mike Bishop moved to close the public hearing with Carlblom second and board approval.

     Schell opened internal discussion. City Planner Joel Quanbeck presented his findings to the board which were digitally shared prior to the meeting; he suggested if the board moves to approve, his list of housekeeping items should be included in the motion as follows: a) The items previously noted as “additional subdivision design requirements that are not needed to review and approve a preliminary plat” be provided for the record and meet city engineering standards, b) All infrastructure required to serve the proposed development have easements as required by Title 16 of the Valley City Municipal Code (VCMC) and city engineering standards, c) The applicant shall give satisfactory assurance of the provision of all site improvements for the proposed development as required by VCMC Section 16-01-06, d) The applicant shall ensure that all site improvements are consistent with all applicable design standards and infrastructure requirements, and e) There must be a Homeowners Association Agreement or something of a similar nature with required membership of all property owners within the PUD – this Agreement must address and ensure maintenance of the shared buildings and of the shared common spaces. Bishop moved to recommend to the City Commission approval with those added comments, with Wright seconding and unanimous roll call approval.

Public Hearing for plat, zoning and variance requests of undeveloped land located west of 8th Ave SE and south of 10th St SE, to be called MeadowView Estates 

     Chair Schell opened the public hearing, adding that there were four items to make decisions on and they included a sidewalk variance, a lot depth variance, a rezone request and a plat. Bruce Hoyt presented the plans to the board, asking that they address the plat first. He requested they approve the second plat submitted that had the street going up the middle, and the developer would put in the infrastructure (street, water, sewer, etc) himself as they did not know at this time what neighboring properties have planned for the future. Quanbeck said that regulations consider it not good practice to have double frontage streets for efficiency reasons and lower future costs to the property owners. He recommended the first plat that was not the developers’ preferred plan but acknowledged there were unusual circumstances. Wright moved to close the hearing with Bishop seconding and the board in agreement.

     Schell opened internal discussion. Wright asked Hoyt why they wanted the road down the middle; Hoyt said it was for more control of the situation and that it would allow them to proceed without delay. Koepplin said he understood the challenge and the board should approve the second plat and let them get it done. Bishop made a motion to recommend the City Commission approve the second plat, with Faure second; after Koepplin asked it be subject to the plat updated with utility easements added to the plat prior to sign-off, the board was in unanimous agreement.

     Leaving the hearing closed, the board addressed the rezone from agricultural to R-1 residential. Koepplin moved to recommend a do-pass to the City Commission with Bishop seconding, and unanimous board approval. Next, they reviewed the two variance requests. The first was to allow shorter lot depths from the required 100 feet for subdivisions to 97.5 feet to fit into the proposed development space. Bishop moved to approve the shortened lot variance with Wright second and board approval. The second variance was a request to remove the requirement for sidewalks in new subdivisions. Hoyt said that the property owner does not want sidewalks and as a developer, Hoyt understood why they are required but also feels these are special circumstances as the sidewalks would lead nowhere. Quanbeck agreed that this proposed development has a more rural, suburban character that would allow for and make more sense to bypass the sidewalk requirement. Koepplin moved to approve the variance for no sidewalks with Bishop seconding; the board split on approval with Erickson, Faure and Wright voting nay and Chair Schell breaking the tie with a ‘yes.’

Consider Hidden Pond Estate PUD Geotechnical Report and make recommendations regarding the Planned Unit Development and replat

     Chair Schell opened the discussion relating how he had walked thru the property in question with Ray & Lela Grim and Jennifer Stainbrook. Questions from the neighboring property owners had been referred to the developers and were answered; the developers had an extensive geotechnical survey done to further take care of concerns regarding stability of the land, underground spring locations and future water run-off issues. Speaking for the developers, Bruce Hoyt said they felt confident they were not going to cause any problems for neighbors as they move forward; he added that new construction would have its own bermed pond and that, instead of adding 12 feet of fill, they would be adding a walk-in basement to the future twinhome. The firm who did the geotechnical study would be on hand as the development moves forward to do any future borings and monitor for any concerns. The neighbors attending said they were happy with the answers to their questions and they were looking forward to the walking path through the wooded areas. Koepplin moved to recommend the City Commission approve the PUD and replat request with Quanbeck’s added conditions of: a) Stormwater runoff from the proposed development be addressed in a way consistent with stormwater management, b) Any potential walking paths are located at least 25-ft from adjacent property, c) The question of dedication of part of the proposed subdivision for public use be decided on the basis of historical precedent and any relevant changes to city policy, d) The four items previously noted as ‘additional subdivision preliminary plat required information that is not shown on the preliminary plat or as supplemental information’ be provided for the record, e) All infrastructure required to serve the proposed development have easements as required by Title 16 of the VCMC and city engineering standards, f) the applicant shall give satisfactory assurance of the provision of all site improvements for the proposed development as required by VCMC Section 16-01-06 and, g) The applicant shall ensure all site improvements are consistent with all applicable design standards and infrastructure requirements. Carlblom seconded the motion. Wright asked how this project qualifies as a PUD being that there’s only one structure plus one that’s already built, and there’s no plans for multiple structures. City Attorney Carl Martineck said that legally it qualifies as a PUD and he’s comfortable allowing the project to move forward. He added that without a PUD designation this development wouldn’t work because they would not be able to get the variances needed. Quanbeck added that, in his original report, he pointed out the use of a PUD was consistent as a creative & efficient use of the land available, and there was not a lot of buildable land on that site. It also saves the city money as the streets and maintenance in the PUD will be on the developer. Wright didn’t agree with the assessment. The vote moved forward with most of the board members approving – Wright & Erickson voted nay.

Public Hearing for application for a variance from the Valley City Floodplain Regulation in regards to the new VCSU Center for the Arts building.

      Chair Schell opened the public hearing. Wesley Wintch, Vice President of Business Affairs for VCSU, requested a variance to allow construction of the new Center for the Arts Building to continue at the FEMA-regulation 1 foot above Base Flood Elevation (BFE) instead of the State-regulation 2 feet BFE. To meet North Dakota Century Code, the university would have to install slats & brackets at entrances, and with no history of flooding of nearby buildings and new flood walls under construction throughout the city, the project’s architects feel that this approximate $100,000 of water-proofing measures is unnecessary. After discussion, it was determined that because of concerns that the adjustment would affect the insurance class rating for the City of Valley City, more research needed to be completed to see if that would be the case. Wintch agreed the decision could wait a month so these questions could have more definitive answers. Wright moved to close the hearing with Bishop seconding and board approval. Koepplin moved to table the issue until the June 9th meeting with Faure a second and roll call approval.

Consider amendments to Titles 11 & 16 of VCMC, re: subdivision sidewalks, R-4 Multi-Family Residential District density, and off-street parking requirements. Discussion only.

      Chair Schell opened discussion. Because the sidewalk issue keeps coming up with each new subdivision, the board talked about the standard requiring sidewalks and if that should be changed or to keep considering variance requests. Martineck pointed out that if they keep the regulation, they need to determine how to refine and enforce it but he agreed the current regulation is too restrictive. Schell asked Quanbeck to research the issue for the board and make recommendations. In R-4 discussion, Martineck said that everything built since the current ordinance was adopted is out of compliance in regards to unit-limitations on apartments buildings. The board discussed lot size and height limitations; Schell asked Quanbeck to research the issue for the board and make recommendations to correct the ordinance. Quanbeck had requested the discussion on off-street parking for commercial properties because the current language is too restrictive and ‘overkill’; he suggested more flexibility and alternatives be added to the language. Martineck added another issue with the zoning map and the definition of public spaces; Quanbeck said that the term does not match up with the zoning ordinance and he would like to research a change to make map and text the same. He looked forward to these projects. Koepplin also asked for research on a better definition of ‘payment in lieu’ on public spaces in new developments. Quanbeck wrapped up with the need to address setbacks and decks, i.e. what to do when a deck encroaches on a front yard setback; inconsistencies need to be researched.

Building Inspector Report

     Interim Building Inspector Mike Blevins had sent the board an email outlining current building projects; he had nothing else to add and the board had no questions for him at this time.


     With no other items to discuss, Chair Schell called for the meeting to close at 5:59pm.

Submitted by: City Assessor Sandy Hansen, Acting Secretary

Posted in Planning & Zoning Minutes.