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Planning Commission says no to rezoning request

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Planning Commission recommended denial of a rezoning request for a property on South Minnesota to change from industrial property to residential.

Arlyn and Susan Boddy requested rezoning of a property at 1703 S. Minnesota Street from General Industrial (I-2) to Multiple Family Residence (R-3) and to amend the comprehensive plant to designate the property as high density residential.

The Boddys wished to rezone a single lot to allow a single-family residence on the property. The Boddys own storage property near this location, which they frequently visit. Constructed a residential property near the location would be convenient.

At the Planning Commission’s meeting Thursday, city staff requested denial of the rezoning request because the request addressed none of the requirements.

City Attorney Roger Hippert said there were only two legal reasons for allowing rezoning. The first is to correct a mistake and the second is if there is a change in the character of the neighborhood, none of which was alleged in the Boddys’ petition.

The reason for the request is to locate their house next to their business. Hippert said this is not one of the accepted reasons to rezone.

“We don’t allow residences to be built in industrial areas,” he said. “That’s the whole purpose of zoning.”

Any changes to the zoning and comprehensive map would be permanent and eventually, different business could be moved into space other than storage units.

Hippert gave the example of the new high school as an example of a characteristic change to a zoning district. This land was previously zoned agriculture, but as the residential area began to surround the area and it has periodically been rezoned to residential.

Community Development Director David Schnobrich said cases where residential homes were located next to industrial property before were cases where a property was grandfathered in before the city adopted a different zoning map in 1968.

Arlyn Boddy argued since the 2007 comprehensive plan, the area moved away from industrial and become private use buildings.

“It’s not residential, but there are a lot of people who spend a lot of time and nights at these buildings,” Boddy said. “If you’re looking for a buffer zone between industrial and residential, there is no industrial manufacturing in this area.”

Commissioner James Hogen made the motion to deny the request. He said according to city attorney they could not approve the request, but he also was reluctant to make a change for a single lot and set a precedent for placing a residential space in an industrial zone.

Commissioner Jeff Gulden seconded the motion.

The commissioners voted five-to-one in favor of denying the motion with commissioner Rodney Karnitz voting against.

This recommendation will go before the city council for final approval Tuesday, Sept. 3

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A variance was granted to James Scheman for the property at 1106 N. Spring Street. The variance will allow the construction of a private storage facility on the property without a permitted use.

Additional permits were granted to place the building in the 20-foot front yard setback and the five-foot rear setback.

Staff recommended approval because of the variances due to the unusual shape and size of the lots.

City Planner John Knisley said the railroad setbacks has reduced the amount of land available and a curve in the railway has made the lots triangular shaped. There is insufficient space to provide a single-family home on the property.

These lots have remained undeveloped for years and other storage units without a permitted use are located in other properties in the general area. The property is located off an unimproved street and there are no plans to improve it at this time.

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Virginia Suker-Moldan was granted an Interim Use Permit (IUP) for the operation of a float tank therapy business at her residence at 1010 Southridge Road.

The business will consist of a single “flotation pod,” which could serve up to three clients per day. The business will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Sunday. The IUP is for three years.

Staff recommended approval of the IUP because it met the criteria for an IUP and is unlikely to impact surrounding properties based on a low number of clients per day. The nature of the use is intended to provide a quiet space for the clients.

Community Development Director David Schnobrich said there was a letter sent to the commission against recommending approval due to traffic concerns and issues with bringing business into a residential area.

Suker-Moldan said the reason for an IUP request is because she wants to determine the amount of interest before purchasing storefront space downtown. She said the three-year limit could be extended for the business needs.

Suker-Moldan believed traffic should not be any worse because of the business. Only a single customer could use the tank by appointment and this customer would use the residential driveway for parking. She had no plan to add signs to her residence.

The commissioner recommended approval with commissioner Jeff Gulden obtaining. Gulden obtained because he lived in the area, but saw no problem with approving the permit.

Final approval the permit will come before the city council on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

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