Crystal Planning Commission Recap – November 2014

The Crystal Planning Commission met tonight, and we finished the meeting in record time- from start to finish the whole thing lasted only 15 minutes.

There were only two items on the agenda:

1) Consideration of a Conditional Use Permit for a new dental manufacturing facility and

2) Consideration of an application to allow an expanded garage on a residential property.

The first item was for the Crystal Barber’s building on Douglas Drive.  The new owner wants to use the building to do some light manufacturing of dental appliances like crowns and bridges.  Because the property is zoned for commercial use, the manufacturing use required a conditional use permit.  The item passed unanimously.

The second item regarded a homeowner who wanted to expand a non-conforming garage.  Apparently in 2004 the way the height of a structure is measured was changed.  It used to be measured as the mean of the peak of the roof and the eave, and now it’s measured as the peak of the roof.  Code only allows a garage to be 15 feet tall, and the existing garage is about 19 feet tall.  Because the change was made after the structure was built, the garage became what is called “legally nonconforming” which means it is allowed to stay as is indefinitely, but if the structure is modified in any substantial way it must be brought into compliance with the current code, or granted a variance to stay out of compliance.

In this case the homeowner just wanted to add an addition to the back of the garage, and obviously didn’t want the new addition to have a lower roof than the existing garage.  The item passed unanimously.

The only other thing to report is that Hennepin County approved the curb cuts for the Gaulke property on Douglas Drive (see here for background) which I believe was the final potential regulatory road block for the project.

There are currently no agenda items for December’s meeting, so that could be my last planning meeting before I join the council!

Final Debate Recap

The League of Women Voters hosted the final debate for the 2014 election season on Thursday October 23.

I started the debate by thanking my opponent, Joe Selton, for the positive and issues-based race we have had.  I am pleased this campaign has been largely free of the personal attacks and name calling that has been seen in other races this year, and I am pleased our debate kept up that tone.  Joe and I are both people who care about Crystal, but just have different ideas about how to get the work done.

I believe I have the right mix of experience and fresh perspective that is required to move Crystal forward, and I believe my focus on actually listening to and engaging citizens sets me apart.  I hope that you agree, and that I can earn your vote on November 4.

Time flew by, and I was really kind of bummed that I didn’t get to answer a question that was asked of the other candidates.  The question was “What are your ‘out of the box’ ideas for Crystal.”

I have two, and they are patterned on the recent “un-session” in the legislature.

First I think we should have an ordinance commission, which would be focused on repealing and/or re-writing old city ordinances.  We have more lines in our city code than we have residents, and we have some pretty laughable ordinances on the books.  There’s a whole section on regulating fortune tellers. Really. We should modernize our city code with the help of interested citizens.

The second is based on Governor Dayton’s 2014 executive order that the government communicate with the citizens in plain language.  That idea was mocked by some as unnecessary or silly, but I actually liked it.  I received a letter from the city a few weeks ago that pertained to the Gaulke Pond home development. I received the letter because I live close to the proposed development, so it’s the same letter that my neighbors received.  Despite the fact that I am on the planning commission, and relatively well informed about the details of the project, I had no idea what the point of the letter was. When the city communicates, we should do so in the easiest to understand way possible- and leave off the legal speak and other mumbo jumbo.

Jeff Kolb on NW City Politics

I was on “NW City Politics” earlier this month, which is a local program about politics and policy that airs on Northwest Community Television.  The episode originally aired on October 15, and included interviews with four local candidates from other cities.  My interview is excerpted below.

Thanks to host and producer Juanita Hoffe for the opportunity!

Prepared and paid for by the Kolb for Crystal Committee, PO Box 28373, Crystal, MN 55428