Crystal Planning Commission Recap – August 11, 2014

The Crystal Planning Commission met Monday after skipping the meeting in July.  We are scheduled to meet monthly, but if there are no items on the agenda the meetings are canceled.

There were two items on the agenda- considering a variance for a sign for Liquor Liquidators and considering a conditional use permit for a planned U-Haul store.

The sign for Liquor Liquidators was the first item on the agenda.  Liquor Liquidators is a rather unique commercial property in Crystal because it has residential property on both sides of it.  The store was originally a Tom Thumb back in the 60s.  It sat vacant for a while, and was turned into a liquor store a few years ago.  The owner was looking for a variance to allow the sign to be located 1 foot from the property line (bordering the street) instead of 10 feet.

Code requires a 50 foot setback from residential properties, and because there are residential properties on either side, the sign can only be placed in a narrow part of the middle of the property.  A 10 foot setback from the street would require the sign to be in the middle of the parking lot.  I visited the property before the meeting and saw first hand that a variance was needed.  City staff recommended approval and the variance passed unanimously.

The U-Haul CUP was a different story.  A business owner wants to open a store in Lamplighter Square (the strip mall where Crystal Café is located).  Part of the business would include the ability to reserve a U-Haul truck.  The zoning for the property does not allow vehicle rental, but the owner was requesting the ability to keep one truck (or trailer) on sight.  As long as the amount of space taken up by the rental truck is within the limits set by code, rental can be allowed as a conditional use in that zone.

The proposed use generated several questions by the commissioners, with many expressing concern about the project.  Unfortunately the applicant did not attend the meeting.  The applicant also failed to provide the city staff with some of the information that they requested.  I was in favor of granting the conditional use provided we kept a close eye on the property to make sure that the business did not exceed the one truck limit.  However, there was little appetite for this approach among the other commissioners.  We ultimately decided to vote to continue the discussion to our next meeting, which would give the applicant time to provide the additional documentation, and to attend and answer questions personally.

I voted in favor of the motion to continue, which passed unanimously.

My general approach when it comes to conditional use permits is to assume the applicant is innocent until proven guilty- meaning I am generally inclined to support a conditional use (as long as the use is reasonable and legal) until an infraction is committed.  In this case, the lack of complete information from the applicant made me comfortable voting to continue the discussion until later.

After a quick update on a few topics we covered last month the meeting adjourned.

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