There were three items on the agenda for the City of Crystal Planning Commission Meeting on November 12, 2013:
- Conditional Use Permit for an 8 foot fence.
This was pretty non-controversial, the measure passed unanimously after a brief discussion.The owner of a new liquor store wants to install a new fence and new lighting on his property. City code only allows for a 6 foot fence, so a conditional use permit was required for the 8 foot height. The only minor point of contention was that apparently the “good” side of the fence (the flat side) has to point toward your neighbor’s property while the fence posts need to be pointing toward your side. We also required that the owner remove the fence posts from an old fence after concerns from the owner of an adjoining property.
- Consider amending city code to allow multi-color electronic signs.
This topic generated much more discussion than I expected. The same liquor store owner wants to be able to install a multi-color digital sign outside his store, but that is not currently allowed by city code, so he requested that we change the code.The property directly across the street, which is in New Hope, has a sign like this right now. The signs are allowed in all neighboring cities.City staff looked at surrounding cities and came up with a proposal to allow the signs as long as they met light level restrictions, didn’t display any animation, and kept the image on the screen for a minimum of 2 minutes.I personally felt that the restriction on animation and the screen minimum were unnecessarily restrictive, but that was a minority view among the commissioners. There were a few commissioners who opposed the signs at all, lest we turn Bass Lake Road into the Vegas Strip.I did ask the city staff if the proposed restrictions on animation and display length were based on any hard data, or just on what other cities are doing. My concern is making bad policy simply for the reason that “other people are doing it.” The city planner said the decision was made based on “common sense” rather than any specific data.
There was debate about putting the process on hold until we could discuss it further, or possibly allowing the signs only with a conditional use permit. I spoke out against waiting, as we had a new business owner that had a reasonable request, and I didn’t want to delay him any more than necessary.
The commission voted 6-3 to recommend the proposed code changes to the city council. I voted yes.
- The third item was an update on the Met Council’s preliminary 2040 forecasts for Crystal. There’s enough here to warrant a separate post. The bottom line is that the city will continue to push back against Met Council “projections” which are, in the city’s view, pure nonsense.