• 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.

    Council

    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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  • 12Apr

    Typically I do not comment on every crime that happens in Rochester, but I will on this one as there has been outrage by some neighbors on how the city has handled the situation. Having reviewed the situation I find that handling of the situation to be even handed and appropriate.

    Prior to neighbor, Julie Hoffman appearing before council I asked Police Chief Peterson to give the city council an update.

    While we do have the lowest crime rate in 40 years, it is important to realize that still means there are thousands of crimes happening every year.

    I will separate my response into the chronology of events leading to this complaint and my personal perspective as it relates to the decisions made.

    The chronology:

    In March of 2013 officers of the Rochester Police Department, acting through a confidential reliable informant, made two purchases of 0.6 and 0.5 grams of crack cocaine respectively from Christina Torres at 1570 8 ½ ST SE.   Torres was later charged with 2 counts of 2nd degree drug sales. (Two separate purchases are standard practice in such cases in order to avoid a defense of entrapment.) 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.

     photo IMG_4410_zpsfgzlbmnm.jpg

    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.

     photo IMG_4409_zpstrkkeake.jpg

    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.

     photo IMG_4414_zpshwxxviyy.jpg

    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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  • 20Nov

    Here is a time lapse of the replacement of the RPU Reservoir near St. Mary’s.

    Approving this was a tough vote because this was a good decision for the city of Rochester and a bad decision for 1 block of citizens that lived closest to the site.  Complicating the matter was the fact that I serve on the RPU Board AND represent the neighborhood AND was up for reelection at the time.

    Ultimately the tank was forced to the corner because Mayo was unwilling to provide any land to set the tank back more.

    Good:

    • My number one goal was to not lose a single inch of parkland and we were successful.
    • The project is located on land that the city leases solely for the purpose of water storage and has for decades.
    • Pretty nice design for a water tank with extensive neighborhood interaction.
    • The design, location and operations will save the city millions.  Every other site considered took public lands from other neighborhoods and cost much more.
    • Significant park improvements occurred and many quality trees were planted as a result of this project.

    Lessons learned:

    • The Mayo signage was handled inappropriately, staff made a decision that should have gone to the city council.
    • Lighting came as a bit of surprise.  It is done for security reasons.  Some neighbors hate it but an equal number have expressed that they are OK with it.
    One last thing:
    • We got a number of nice trees planted, but I am going to try to get a few more on the South and Southeast sides.

     

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  • 23Feb

    Here is your chance to comment on the Soldiers Field Masterplan.

    March 13, 2014

    4:00 – 7:00 PM

    Soldiers Field Clubhouse

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxMKqsc4J7x0V2ZTUDBPcTBiX2xfNjFZUmt2cy1uc24tYmhZ/edit?usp=sharing

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  • 16Sep

    After choosing to not actively participate in a flawed but fair process for 16 months, and giving absolutely no guidance Mayor Brede vetoed the 5×5 proposal.  Had the mayor given direction in the past as to what would pass muster, this building might be occupied today.  It is one thing to veto a decision based of adherence to a plan, rule or vision, however in this case it appears the mayor presented a set of fictitious numbers to support his claims.  While I think the decision to veto this was foolish, I have no interest in overturning a veto without the broad support of the council.  I would have more respect for this veto if the mayor had given leadership or guidance on this issue. Read more…

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  • 20Aug

    Here are a few summary points on the 5×5 project passing with modifications.

    Attorneys for both sides spoke on whether the Restricted Development was appropriate.

    • The city attorney suggested that the project did meet requirements to come forward as a restricted development. In my book this ended the legal discussions.  Previously with the use of the R4 setbacks in the R2 zone with out any sort of a design modification, I believe the law was not followed.

    Restricted vs. Incentive Development

    • These are not mutually exclusive
    • When I asked staff why use a restricted development now but an incentive last year.  Restricted was used this year because an apartment building that is not a tri or four-plex is not allowed in R2, but last year had the change taken place to R4 the incentive development could have been used.
    • Advantage of R4 (or some other zoning code like B2) is that we can use incentive development and straight up trade higher quality design for density.
    • Advantage of R2 and a restricted development is that the developer can’t walk away from the development and that do something over the counter that does not meet the reason for that zone changed in the first place.  There is absolutely no contidional zoning.

    Density

    • Neighbors said that the proposal 1) does not fit the block 2) does not comply with R2 zoning
    • Developer said that the proposal 1) does fit the neighborhood 2) does comply with the high denisty residential designation in comprehensive plan
    • I believe that all 4 statements are correct.
    • The strict letter of the law says we must weigh whether the development is compatible with the neighborhood.

    17 similar apartment buildings in my core neighborhoods that abut downtown (similar in floor area ratio and/or unit density).

    • 508 4th Street SW
    • 512 4th Street SW
    • one next to 512 4th Street SW
    • 600 4th Street SW
    • 428 6th Street SW
    • 718 5th Street SW
    • 730 5th Street SW
    • 317 6th Avenue SW
    • 620 2nd Street SW
    • 855 1st Street SW
    • 621 1st Street SW
    • 421 6th Avenue NW
    • 845 1st Street NW
    • 7 7th Avenue SW
    • 11 7th Avenue SW
    • 1143 1st Street SW
    • 1301 1st Street NW

    What I don’t like about 5×5 Building:

    • Massing relitive to other structures on the block
    • History of decisions made on the site.
    • Access from the street not alley (preferred by neighborhood)
    • Green space behind not in front (preferred by neighborhood)

    What I like about 5×5 building

    • Pedestrian friendly design
    • Bicycle freindly design
    • Accessible design
    • Attractive from the street
    • High quality facade materials
    • Separate entrances particularly on street side
    • Legitmate attempt to save 2 trees
    • Innovative car share
    • No individual HVAC units sticking out all sides of the building (condition I added for better compatability)
    • Screened / hidden utilities (condition I added for better compatability)
    • Improved lower access level to B2 design guidelines (condition I added for better compatability)

    Personal fear:

    • Create a precident which causes more historic structures to be razed

    Personally no fear:

    • Building will hasten demise of neighborhood
    • Building will create traffic issues
    • Building will lower property values

    Best case scenario:

    • Building plays out like Cascade Creek, Orchard Hills Villas, and Kutzky Flats where after initial opposition almost everyone acknowleges the building is attractive and a good fit.

    To protect what is great about core neighborhoods we must:

    • Enact strong form based zoning codes
    • Create Historic Districts with teeth and then update the comprehensive plan
    • Don’t let building decay (like 420 6th Avenue SW)
    • Keep 6th Avenue SW as a complete street and downtown buffer per the downtown masterplan

    Lastly completely false conventional wisdom:

    • R1, R2, R3, R4 are approppriate for pre WWII neighborhoods
    • R4 is the highest density zoning for residential

     

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  • 20Aug

    5×5 passes
    Scenic Oaks 10th Passes
    Booze License
    Another DeWitz neighborhood having serious quality issues

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