Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, March 20, 2000

Annexation issues occupy Waverly council

By Andrea Vargo

"There isn't a law that says the city can or can't do this, but this would be something that is created above and beyond what the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) recommends," City Attorney Tim Young told the Waverly council Tuesday.

Young carefully phrased his statements, as he answered questions from the council about an annexation ordinance or policy some of the council members may want to create.

Mayor Charlie Bush, who does not support any change to the annexation policy, said, "Could we just request an appearance (by the person requesting the annexation)?"

"Yes. I can't say I've ever read one (policy) that required, rather than encouraged, a person or representative to be present (for a public hearing)," replied Young.

"I am concerned about 'back of the napkin' sketch plans. The council might get caught approving a plan along with the annexation," he said.

"I don't think you should require anything more than the presence of a representative (at a public hearing).

"You have the experience and ability to control development after annexation," he stated.

The city can't change the rules for two years after the approval of a plan (sketch or not), Young told the council.

Annexation laws are state laws, he noted.

Asked several times by different council members if the city could have problems with a special annexation policy, Young skirted the issue.

After a considered pause, he said, "I would not prefer to use this approach if I were a policy maker. It imposes a lot of requirements and compresses the city's timeline for review."

Last month, Young sent the city a letter for the Feb. 28 special session that advised the council to proceed with caution and not to act arbitrarily.

He stated that the council may implement a policy for additional requirements for annexation, but its actions must be supported by legitimate reason and rationale.

The council may also choose to waive some of the additional requirements, if it wishes, he said.

If the city requires a concept plan, that plan must not be binding on either the city or the developer, as it may not be compliant with city zoning requirements, according to Young.

The 60-day rule on zoning, according to Minnesota statutes, says that zoning requests are considered approved if the council does not act promptly within 60 days of a request.

Since annexation takes longer than that, a developer may contend that zoning approvals were made, according to Young.

One citizen expressed the concern that it is possible that a developer might go through the expense and time of having a development plan in place, and then the council could refuse the annexation.

The council reviewed a draft of annexation regulations they had previously asked Young to prepare.

Because the council had not had time to read it before the meeting, the vote on the draft was postponed.

Ryan annexation

Tom Ryan, whose annexation request precipitated the debate on the current annexation issues, was present to answer questions from the council.

He prefaced those questions with some background on the property and his own plans for it.

"Many years ago, I purchased property on the east side of town. It was in the major growth area at that time. I fully intended to develop that in Woodland Township. I went to Wright County, and somewhere in the negotiations, someone from Waverly called Wright County Planning and Zoning and said it should be developed in the city of Waverly," Ryan said.

They (Wright County) made me promise to annex the western side of that property to Waverly, he said.

Councilman Jerry McRaith asked Ryan why the people of Woodland Township came in such numbers to speak against the annexation.

"The people of Woodland didn't want development there. It will be developed, one way or another," Ryan stated.

Ryan asked Buzz Jonason, representative for Joe Lemmerman, prospective developer for the parcel at the heart of the debate to join the conversation.

Jonason said, "I see that piece of property as a great asset to the city."

"Our normal procedure is (to give) an initial concept plan to planning and zoning to get feedback. Sometimes there are changes to that," he said.

"We are looking at an association where lawn maintenance and snow removal are taken care of by association fees," Jonason said.

Mayor Charlie Bush asked Jonason, "Where have you worked?"

Buffalo, Stillwater, Big Lake, Loretto, and the industrial park on the east side of Montrose are a few," replied Jonason.

McRaith interjected, "What is your problem at Woodland?"

Ryan said, "You are the problem."

Ryan appeared to believe that McRaith has been talking to his Woodland neighbors.

Then, McRaith brought up what he thought was the agreement with Woodland when Ryan started to develop Carrigan Shores, just to the east of the proposed annexation parcel.

He thought a piece of the property was supposed to be designated as a park, and that piece belonged to Woodland.

"If it (Ryan's property) is annexed, I can't see why Woodland would want a park in the middle of Waverly," said McRaith.

Ryan was quick to point out that there was an option to dedicate land or pay a fee, and he was required to pay $4,800 in lieu of a park.

Then, Bush brought the discussion back to the annexation process.

"If the annexation were to be approved, when do you anticipate things would happen?" Bush asked.

Jonason said he would start the process immediately, starting with planning and zoning.

"Then, you are not considering a long delay?" Bush asked.

There is a strong interest shown by a market study, Jonason said.

"This is one of our premier projects," he said.

He sees a mix of single family homes, the new zero-lot line units, and association town homes. The developer is not considering any rental units at this time, Jonason stated.

In support of the Ryan annexation, Councilman Dave Fournier said, "I have not had a problem with this annexation and still don't. I think it is very viable for the community. I strongly feel it should be annexed."

In response to questions about reopening the Ryan annexation issue, Young said, "(I would) not recommend revisiting the denied annexation."

The council was told it needed to do this "in the open, . . . straight up," according to Young.

He recommended starting over and having another public hearing.

"Shouldn't we have a policy in place before we do any annexation?" asked Councilman John Hertzog.

That question was left with just a review of the options available to the council: leave everything as is according to state law; place a moratorium on annexation until further study is undertaken; or develop a new ordinance, based on the draft Young provided.

"One of my concerns is how many homes or townhomes are going in, and we still don't have answers," said Councilwoman Pam Henry-Neaton.

Planning and Zoning Commissioner Adrian Duske said, "We have policies that set lot size, setbacks, (and other things)."

"Are you looking for size (for) watermain services?" Fournier asked Henry-Neaton.

"Everything we have worked on in the last three years has included these areas. It is already built into our growth plan.

"I'm kind of concerned where this is coming from. If it is falling (correctly) under our planning and zoning, we can't mandate numbers of homes out there," Fournier said.

Ryan officially presented a new petition for annexation at the meeting, and the process will begin again.

LePage property annexed

Planning and zoning commissioners recommended the annexation of the Maurice LePage property at First Street South from Woodland Township to the City of Waverly, Tuesday.

Dave Perry and Jay Pettit, P&P Enterprises, plan for the property to be a minor subdivision.

Five lots would be zoned single family/residential and one lot would be zoned multi-family/residential.

The two men plan to move previously occupied single family homes onto four of the lots and keep the original home on the site intact.

There was more discussion about the things the council would require for the annexation.

It was decided a preliminary plat will be submitted without the topographical map, as that part already exists for this parcel.

Planning and Zoning Commissioner Adrian Duske stressed that planning and zoning will consider it a concept plan.

In the end, the annexation request for Pettit and Perry was approved to continue through the necessary steps for a concept plan and a notice for public hearing.

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