• 14Oct

    I found a note I had been looking for. On October 31, 2014 neighborhood president Don Nordine sent invitation to the entire Folwell Neighborhood Association email list. Neighbors were asked to be on a committee to provide input on the Alatus project even though the developer had not obligation to do so.

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  • 22Sep

    Since the vote I have been contacted by 15 people in the Folwell neighborhood 7 in agreement with the decision, and 8 against. Only a couple people making personal attacks, but still disappointing. That kind of division lets me know this needs some more discussion. I would be lying if I said that every concern has been addressed, they haven’t. However infill projects seldom are perfect solutions. Community and neighborhood benefits and impacts certainly fall short of perfection, however I see them as being greater than both the status quo and other development in the area. In addition the project has the support of 3 neighborhood association presidents, Imagine Kutzky, CUDE, County Planning, City Engineering, and several (but admittedly a minority of) neighbors living in the neighborhood.

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    Final Decision:

    Approvals are (or should) always be based on whether evidence indicates the development meets the criteria for approval. Not everything was black & white but clearly the evidence in this case convinced the city council, staff, and long time neighborhood leaders that this project met all requirements. Read more…

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  • 25Jun

    Edit: Per the request of some citizens the Traffic Report Can be found here.

    On Monday I will participate on a panel that will discuss the proposed Alatus Development in the Folwell Neighborhood. There is a great deal of fear about this project, which is to be expected with any project this large. I will be a little limited as to what I can say as I am in a quasi-judicial capacity with the project likely coming to the council.

    As a restricted development, any approval must meet the requirements in 62.708 of our land development manual. I will bold the sections that are likely of particular interest to neighbors as I have received questions. The first time that this comes to us will be as a Preliminary Development Plan as such take a look at Subdivision 2. Subdivision 3 is applicable to a Final Development Plan.

    On all of these criteria, staff will prepare a report making recommendations, the Planning & Zoning Commission will then review it, and finally the council will make a decision. This is the case for both the Preliminary & Final Plans.

    62.708 Criteria for Type III Developments: Subdivision 1. The Commission and Council shall approve a type III incentive development plan if it determines the plan satisfies all of the Preliminary Development Plan findings provided in subdivision 2 and all of the Final Development Plan findings provided in subdivision 3.
    Subd 2. The findings for the approval of a Preliminary Type III Development Plan are as follows:

    A. Capacity of Public Facilities: The existing or future planned utilities in the area are adequate to serve the proposed development.

    B. Geologic Hazards: The existence of areas of natural or geologic hazard, such as unstable slopes, sinkholes, floodplain, etc., have been identified and the development of these areas has been taken into account or will be addressed in the Phase II plans.

    C. Natural Features: For developments involving new construction, the arrangement of buildings, paved areas and open space has, to the extent practical, utilized the existing topography and existing desirable vegetation of the site.

    D. Residential Traffic Impact: When located in a residential area, the proposed development:

    (1) Will not cause traffic volumes to exceed planned capacities on local residential streets;

    (2) Will not generate frequent truck traffic on local residential streets; and

    (3) Will not create additional traffic during evening and nighttime hours on local residential streets.

    E. Traffic Generation Impact: : Anticipated traffic generated by the development will not cause the capacity of adjacent streets to be exceeded, and conceptual improvements to reduce the impact of access points on the traffic flow of adjacent streets have been identified where needed..

    F. Height Impacts: For developments involving new construction, the heights and placement of proposed structures are compatible with the surrounding development. Factors to consider include:

    (1) Will the structure block sunlight from reaching adjacent properties during a majority of the day for over four months out of the year; and;

    (2) Will siting of the structure substantially block vistas from the primary exposures of adjacent residential dwellings created due to differences in elevation.

    G. Setbacks: For developments involving new construction, proposed setbacks are related to building height and bulk in a manner consistent with that required for permitted uses in the underlying zoning district.

    H. Internal Site Design: For developments involving new construction, the preliminary site layout indicates adequate building separation and desirable orientation of the buildings to open spaces, street frontages or other focal points.

    I. Screening and Buffering: The conceptual screening and bufferyards proposed are adequate to protect the privacy of residents in the development or surrounding residential areas from the impact of interior traffic circulation and parking areas, utility areas such as refuse storage, noise or glare exceeding permissible standards, potential safety hazards, unwanted pedestrian/bicycle access, or to subdue differences in architecture and bulk between adjacent land uses.

    J. Ordinance Requirements: The proposed development includes adequate amounts of off-street parking and loading areas and, in the case of new construction, there is adequate landscaped area to meet ordinance requirements.

    K. General Compatibility: The relationship of the actual appearance, general density and overall site design of the proposed development should be compared to the established pattern of zoning, the character of the surrounding neighborhood and the existing land forms of the area to determine the general compatibility of the development with its surroundings.

    L. Non-Vehicular and Alternate Modes of Travel: The proposed development incorporates pedestrian oriented-space, provides direct and convenient pedestrian access to the building entrance(s) from public trails, public sidewalks, and on or off-site parking areas, incorporates appropriated pedestrian safety features, provides convenient pedestrian access for transit patrons, or, if appropriate, access for transit vehicles, and provides adequate bicycle access. Consideration shall also be given, to providing designated motorized scooter parking if appropriate to the context of the development (the use, location, type of individuals served).

    Subd. 3. The findings for the approval of a Final Type III Development Plan are as follows:
    A. Public Facility Design: The design of private and public utility facilities meet the requirements and specifications which the applicable utility has adopted.

    B. Geologic Hazard: Engineering means to deal with areas of geologic hazard have been incorporated into the development plan or such areas have been set aside from development.
    Page 258 September 1, 2011

    C. Access Effect: Ingress and egress points have been designed and located so as to:

    (1) Provide adequate separation from existing street intersections and adjacent private driveways so that traffic circulation problems in public right-of-ways are minimized; and

    (2) Not adversely impact adjacent residential properties with factors such as noise from accelerating or idling vehicles or the glare of headlights from vehicles entering or leaving the site.

    In addition, where the preliminary development plan identified potential problems in the operation of access points, plans for private improvements or evidence of planned public improvements which will alleviate the problems have been provided.

    D. Pedestrian Circulation: The plan includes elements to assure that pedestrians can move safely both within the site and across the site between properties and activities within the neighborhood area, and, where appropriate, accommodations for transit access are provided.

    E. Foundation and Site Plantings: A landscape plan for the site has been prepared which indicates the finished site will be consistent with the landscape character of the surrounding area.

    F. Site Status: Adequate measures have been taken to insure the future maintenance and ownership pattern of the project, including common areas, the completion of any platting activities, and the provision of adequate assurance to guarantee the installation of required public improvements, screening and landscaping.

    G. Screening and Bufferyards: The final screening and bufferyard design contains earth forms, structures and plant materials which are adequate to satisfy the needs identified in preliminary development plan for the project.

    H. Final Building Design: The final building design is consistent with the principles identified in preliminary development plan relative to Height Impact, Setbacks, and Internal Site Design.

    I. Internal Circulation Areas: Plans for off-street parking and loading areas and circulation aisles to serve these areas meet ordinance requirements in terms of design.

    J. Ordinance Requirements: The proposed development is consistent with the requirements of the underlying zoning district for similar uses in regards to signage and other appearance controls, and with general standards such as traffic visibility and emergency access.

    K. Non-Vehicular and Alternate Travel Modes: The proposed development incorporates pedestrian oriented-space, provides direct and convenient pedestrian access to the building entrance(s) from public trails, public sidewalks, and on or off-site parking areas, incorporates appropriated pedestrian safety features, provides convenient pedestrian access for transit patrons, or, if appropriate, access for transit vehicles, and provides adequate bicycle access. Consideration shall also be given, to providing designated motorized scooter parking if appropriate to the context of the development (the use, location, type of individuals served).

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  • 06Feb

    I can’t begin to express how outstanding of an event Imagine Kutzky and neighbors put on at Forager Brewing around the topic of the St. Mary’s area.  I remain proud of my neighborhoods.

    Here is a link to the equally outstanding report.

    More than 100 people showed up, I would guess closer to 200 if you count the folks that came and decided it was too busy to stay. The comments were outstanding. Some of them conflict with each other, but in general people want a great neighborhood that prioritizes transit, pedestrians, and bikes. They want vibrant businesses and great public spaces. With the exception of 1 person (who I know) who wanted a 6 lane highway… I would personally lay down in front of the heavy equipment if that was happening.

    Also impressive was the community leaders that showed up. A majority of the city council showed up to listen. Attendees included myself, Mark Bilderback, Mark Hickey, and Nick Campion. In addition most of the DMC team also showed up to listen. I commend them on listening to what the neighborhood had to say. Leaders from the Kutzky Park, Folwell, and Historic Southwest Neighborhoods were also in attendance.

    City Administration, County Planning, and City Public works were not in attendance. A note I sent to meet with public works before the event was note returned.

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  • 17Jan

    Here is a little transparency on the St. Marys area discussion. If we kept up with our own recommendations for planning in the area we wouldn’t be struggling right now.


    I sent staff my concerns about our recent Holiday Inn meetings and wished to express the same concerns to the council as well. I believe that once again the lack of proactive city planning has led to a situation were rather than implementing a quality plan we are bending to accommodate whatever comes forward.

    Here are my concerns, you will notice that none of them are with the current project its self for which we are still in a quasi-judicial capacity. I see the TIF discussion as being unrelated to the project discussion.

    1) Small group meetings were held in secret away from public scrutiny – There were other topics discussed that clearly can’t be public at this point, but absolutely nothing was discussing regarding the Holiday Inn that could not be discussed in public. While this does not violate the open meeting law, I think it violates the spirit of transparency. Further it removes the ability of the council to interact and control the discussion. I also disagree with this, except when it is necessary.

    2) There seems to be a disconnect between the project needs a tunnel and we need to pay for a tunnel. As with all TIF in this project I will ask staff to show quantitate data justifying TIF before I am willing to support it.

    3) DMCC did the right thing – I appreciate their willingness to ensure that a project meets the design standards for a great neighborhood before supporting it.

    4) The parking bothers me some and I will ask for some independant guidance. The idea of using TIF to build private parking with private revenues but some public oversight is novel. It seems that the cost per spot might be better than we can get otherwise, but again quantitative data is needed.

    5) Planning, Planning, Planning – I have seen how flexible Larry has been to try to get things done. This tells me that if we had done a better job in creating a district plan ahead of time we would probably be done my now. Deciding on your infrastructure and design standards after a plan has been submitted is a terrible way to do business. Building a tunnel system around a connection to a single block that is cutoff from the rest of the area by utilities MAY be a bad practice (or it may not).

    6) Creating a great place – every time we have created a great public place, peace plaza for example the public has embraced it. St. Marys Place can be another great place, but only if the public spaces are inviting. Bisecting the area with fast moving traffic (4 adjacent lanes averaging 12′ apiece) will crush the neighborhood, tunnel or not. My goals would be 1) safety / connectivity 2) Neighborhood / Business Vibrancy 3) Everything else 4) L.O.S.

    7) I am asking some community volunteers to help me create an event to draw attention to the needs for better planning in this area.

    Read more…

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  • 27Jan

    For too long the city of Rochester has been reactive to development instead of being proactive.  I proposed 3 zoning changes, two are now in progress and the third is pending.

    1) Protect the integrity of the Kutzky Park Neighborhood. For nearly a decade the neighborhood has led on zoning to better reflect their neighborhood. We will now weigh whether to apply that CN-NR zoning to the residential areas in yellow.

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    2) Revitalize, enhance, and protect our investments in the Uptown Neighborhood mixed use district. We spent millions of dollars in trying to revitalize this area. It is now far more pedestrian friendly. The B2 zoning allows for a mix of uses and higher density when done in a pedestrian and neighborhood friendly manner.

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    3) Take steps to minimize the cost of building the DMC public infrastructure. I carefully reviewed DMC Plan in an effort the keep new development from preventing key pieces of public infrastructure from being built. I suspect my work will result in an official map with will save future dollars.

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    This is just the beginning. Eventually I seek to protect neighborhoods I represent including Kutzky Park, Folwell, Historic SW, Parkway, and Uptown as historic, mixed use, mixed income quality neighborhoods. We will complete the Comprehensive Plan this fall and I hope to rewrite and reapply all going districts there after.

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  • 07Jun

    On June 16th I will host a Root Beer float social at St. Mary’s Park from 11 AM to 1 PM. Please come out if you would like to discuss the potential water reservoir.

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  • 21Apr

    Update: Per RPU Board Chair Jerry Williams, this will not be on Tuesday’s agenda.

    The “city” is considering a 3.5 million gallon water reservoir at St. Mary’s Park and I have a number of concerns about the process.  I don’t like the fact that many neighbors found out about this by reading the newspaper.  I don’t like how this process has seemingly played out in private, despite the fact that we own the utility.  I don’t like how neighbors have not been asked for comment or ideas.  While I currently have a conflicting meeting, I am going to try to head to the RPU board meeting on Tuesday April 24, 2012 to get more information.

    Many of you want to know where I stand on the issue.  This is a little difficult because even as the councilman for the area I have not been invited to the discussions.  My philosophy is that St. Mary’s park is an asset that we own.  I will never support any action of which the net result is that the asset is made worse.  This was my philosophy when it was suggested that we give away a portion of Soldier’s Field.  Not surprisingly no city council members have come out in support of that.

    I really don’t know what has been decided, what is planned, and how flexible those decisions are.  I don’t know why engineers are suggesting that this would be a good place as opposed to somewhere more on the edge of the city.

    There actually are potential ways to put a reservoir in the park and have it be an asset.  For example if it was put back in the NW part of the park, partially into the ground, with a green roof, and then filled around the edges, we could create an elevated green space in an underused part of the park with a great picnic area and an iconic view of the city.  That would cost more money, but again, hurting a park to save money is not OK in my book.

    In speaking with RPU they did say that neighbors were notified of a meeting at CUDE.  Apparently neighbors within 500 ft. of the park were sent notices.  Also a notice was sent to the neighborhood association.  However, a downtown meeting during work hours is not what I consider a sufficient chance for input.  [edit: I am told this was at least an evening meeting] There will also be a park board meeting, but again I think the neighborhood deserves to have a meeting in the neighborhood.

    I would like to see the existing reservoir removed.  I am interested in what the neighborhood thinks about the existing tower.  I see it as a historic landmark, and though it is not used (except for cell towers) I wouldn’t mind seeing that stay.  I believe the existing reservoir is about 1 million gallons.  To visualize how big a 3.5 million gallon tank would be, picture the existing tank, the same height, but 87% wider.  (OK math teachers, you can check my math)…

    One thing that I can say with absolute certainty is that the more you are involved the better the outcome will be.  We had a number of successes on 6th street which would not have happened with out citizen involvement.

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