New neighborhood commercial zoning advances to DL city council; gas stations removed from draft ordinance
The Detroit Lakes Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the new zoning category March 23 after removing gas stations as a possible conditional-use and making other modifications.
DETROIT LAKES — After receiving dozens of submitted and spoken comments from area residents over the last three weeks, the Detroit Lakes Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of a draft neighborhood commercial zoning category during its meeting on March 23.
The new category would allow for some permitted commercial businesses to be zoned into primarily residential neighborhoods within the city and give the city a comparable category in line with its comprehensive plan .
"It would just be another tool in our tool kit for zoning," said Larry Remmen, community development director for Detroit Lakes, during the meeting. "The community development committee suggested that we put together an ordinance change that would allow for certain types of neighborhood commercial uses in a size and style that would be compatible with residential neighborhoods, so I have drafted that, and it's before you tonight."
Following a presentation of the proposed ordinance from Remmen, members of the community offered their comments to the commission.
"I think it sounds like a great idea and I do think most of (the permitted businesses) would do well in a neighborhood," said Amanda Habrat, a South Shore Drive resident. "I would like to put out there that maybe it's a possibility that we do not include gas stations in this neighborhood commercial. That might be an option to consider, but I think everything else sounds great."
Amber Abraham, a South Shore Drive resident, said safety from the increased traffic was her primary concern.
"This road is busy, and now you're going to be adding tankers ... bringing freight and that's a huge concern for me," said Abraham. "Also, the value of my home, I don't know what this does. I have not researched it, but I don't know what building a gas station next to your home does for value. Huge concern."
She added maybe the process could slow down a bit to study the impacts on neighborhoods a bit more before rushing a new zoning category through in a matter of months.
Jay Hanson, a 270th Avenue resident, said he believed, after the Detroit Lakes city council denied a proposed annexation with business zoning along South Shore Drive in December , that this new zoning was a way for the developer to "go around the back side" with the city to push the development through.
"If this gets approved, then Larry (Remmen) is going to have total control over what goes in that neighborhood, not the City Council, because he'll just be writing out the permits," said Hanson.
Shaun Carlson, alderman first ward and chair of the Detroit Lakes Planning Commission, stopped Hanson and said that is not what is being proposed.
"This is a zoning regulation and in order to have an area rezoned, that has to, one, there has to be an application, typically from a developer for that zone," said Carlson. "Two, then there has to be a posting and a public hearing that has to go through the planning commission, the community development committee, as well as, the city council."
He continued: "So, if we were to approve this neighborhood commercial district, this would become a tool in the zoning toolbox that can be applied. Whether or not it is applied is actually an entirely different process, with an entirely different opportunity for public comment, and those can be approved or denied at any of those steps along the way."
Hanson said he understood.
Carlson said he also felt it necessary to state Remmen does not have "complete control" and only gets to make recommendations to each municipal governing authority where they each vote independently.
Following the public comments, Nancy Haggart and Liz Foster-Anderson, both Detroit Lakes Planning Commission members, made modifications to the ordinance and moved for the commission's recommended approval.
The modifications included:
- Removing gas stations as a conditional-use.
- Moving single-family detached dwellings, group family day care, licensed state residential facilities and bed-and-breakfast residential short-term rental units, and all of their requirements, from a conditional use to a permitted use. Multi-family apartments with more than two rentable units would need to apply for a conditional use permit.
- Adding fitness businesses and small medical service businesses as a permitted-use.
The approval recommendation passed the planning commission 6-0, with Kyle Fode, Eric Lundmark and Don Maristuen not in attendance.
The Detroit Lakes Community Development Committee is expected to vote on their recommendations for the new zoning category during their meeting on April 10 at 5 p.m. at the Becker County Courthouse. The proposed zoning will then be presented to the Detroit Lakes City Council for discussion, and possible action, during their meeting on April 11.