Open for development

St. Michael removes growth phasing plan

The St. Michael City Council approved a comprehensive plan update that removes most of the city’s development phasing plan.

The council also heard about a hunting incident near city hall, heard that the sewer fee might increase, and discussed an update about the Beebe Lake water levels.



The council was provided with an updated comprehensive plan.

Community development director Marc Weigle said the last comp plan update in 2005 included references for controlling growth and a phasing plan. Those were in the days were St. Michael experienced hundreds of new housing starts, and the city implemented phasing to restrict growth to certain areas.

Weigle said the updated version removes this phasing and allows development anywhere in the city where municipal sewer and water services are available. He said there were no proposed changes to the land use map itself.

The council discussed which areas of the city have sewer and water available, and the unanimously adopted the 2012 Comprehensive Plan update.

In other development news, the council heard that the planning commission recommended approval of the preliminary and final plat for the Preserve East 12th addition in eastern St. Michael.

Developer Hans Hagen homes indicated all the standard plans for its homes can fit within a 73-foot lot size and still match the homes in the area.

Weigle said there are 13 new lots being created and five being re-platted with the new development. The council unanimously adopted a resolution approving the Preserve East 12th Addition.



In other news, resident Don Johnson spoke to the council during open forum.

He said he and his wife sometimes walk near the pond by city hall, and Nov. 1 they were walking there and were hit by bullet debris from a hunter. Johnson said he does not think hunters should be allowed on public property, and that there are other ways to decrease the geese population.

Mayor Jerry Zachman said the hunters were given permission to hunt the geese but are supposed to follow certain rules and that if the rules are not being followed hunting might need to stop.

The council apologized for what happened and said staff would follow up with the hunters to make sure they know and follow the rules.



In further news, wastewater plant manager Kelly Daleiden was present with a review of upgrades recently completed at the plant, such as control systems and computer programming replacement.

City administrator Steve Bot said staff is near completion of the final draft of the updated wastewater treatment facility plan, which was last updated in 1999.

He said the decline of development has put a lot of pressure on the city’s sewer fund, and that without additional sewer access charges, staff would be recommending an increase to the sewer rates above the Construction Cost Index. But he said the water rates would likely stay the same, so the overall utility bill should not drastically increase for residents.

Even with a higher rate increase, Bot said St. Michael should remain one of the cities with the lowest sewer rates for mechanical sewer systems.



In other matters, administrator Bot said the city’s consulting engineering company for the Beebe Lake water level analysis has spent a lot of time reviewing options for maintaining the lake’s water level is coming up with a plan acceptable to the Department of Natural Resources and homeowners.

The options involved lowering Beebe Lake below the level currently allowed, which would provide more storage for rainfall in the lake, and adding flow capacity from Mud Lake to help keep the Beebe Lake outlet open as much as possible.

Bot said the DNR has indicated initial support, and that the city would conduct a public hearing to gather input before moving forward with the project.

The council approved scheduling a public hearing to continue moving forward with the plan, and authorized additional costs associated with the project.

In other action, the council:

HEARD that the planning commission was not willing to consider rezoning a parcel in downtown for a gas/convenience store between the one-way pair of roads. The commission said there are other properties available for a gas/convenience store.

OPTED to wait a few years before equipping city buildings with solar panels. The city wants to see how solar panels work for other cities before moving ahead.