Planning Commission: Land-use vote delayed, apartment endorsement denied


On Tuesday, June 10, the Maple Lake Planning Commission conducted public hearings on two topics. The first was a discussion regarding the possibility of allowing downtown street-level residential dwelling as an interim use. Also on the agenda for that hearing was the continuation of a previous hearing on the city’s updated comprehensive plan, which had generated a large response from residents affected by potential placement of future industrial sites.  
Though the attendance of Commissioners John Northenscold, John Rivers and Todd Borell met the required threshold for a quorum, Chairperson Don Grant and Commissioner Charles Webb were not present. The three commissioners in attendance decided to delay any vote on the second matter until the commission’s next meeting, July 8. Applicant Scott Christian, seeking a conditional use permit to place an apartment on the ground floor of his building at 66 Birch Avenue South, was given the option to similarly delay a vote on his application. Christian elected not to delay, and the commission ultimately voted 2-1, with Borell dissenting, against recommending the city council’s approval of the application.
Recommendation denied
Christian, intending to place the apartment in the building’s middle section, told commissioners the building was too large to fill out with retail space and that he had no intention of changing the storefront in any way. As the building had once held an apartment, with bathroom fixtures that still remain, Christian said he was hoping to put an apartment on the main level once again, and provided a floor plan including square footage and a designated parking area. Entry to the apartment would be through a separate door, shared by an existing upstairs apartment.
City Attorney Rhonda Pagel made note that, while the city’s zoning ordinance provides for residential dwelling in connection with retail use in the same building as a conditional use, the planning commission has had lengthy discussion regarding the appropriateness of residential dwellings on the street level, as opposed to upstairs. The current language in the comprehensive plan, she said, does reference upper-level residential areas in the downtown business district, but the zoning ordinance does not provide any specific regulations other than listing that as a conditional use.
More information appears in this week's Messenger.