Township planner, Nate Sparks, explained the history of problems in the conservancy district and what he will bring to the planning commission’s October meeting.
Sparks explained that every 10 years the township is required by the Metropolitan Council to update its comprehensive plan. The plan establishes township policies and goals and expresses the township vision of itself. All township ordinances should be consistent with the comp plan.
He said that development pressure in neighboring communities was resulting in uses being proposed in May Township that were inconsistent with the vision of the Township. “Largely these were related to business and nonresidential uses. That is forcing some clarification in code language.”
“The conservancy district was intended to preserve large tracts of land that have never been developed that have some historic natural areas and historic resources of the town … It was supposed to be lesser density, but we were getting uses proposed that would have a greater impact... We had to study these issues.”
What their investigation uncovered, Sparks said, was that the conservancy district lacked a coherent vision. As a result, problems have been arising for some 40 years. “The things that have been an issue in the conservancy district are directly related to the transportation infrastructure of the township and in some cases how that transportation infrastructure is fraying due to impacts and uses that are greater than what was intended.”
May Township’s road classification system is unique. While most communities have local roads, collector roads and arterial roads, May Township also has rustic roads and scenic roads.
“These rustic and scenic roads,” Sparks said, “aren’t even what a common gravel road is.
There may be trees right up against the road. Or you have less of a surface than typical.” It’s been the intention of the township that these roads be preserved.
“When there are uses in the conservancy district that are creating a greater impact that puts those roads in danger.” Sparks said in the past people had applied for Conditional Use Permits (CUPs) to operate home-based businesses on rustic roads. The township lacked the proper criteria to engage would-be business owners on limiting their traffic.
“In past discussions with potential users, there was a possibility that a road would have to be modernized. Then it would no longer be the road it was intended to be. In order to protect that, we are proposing some more specific criteria for uses that would impact local infrastructure.
“This isn’t really a new idea. It’s a more specific expression of the idea (the Board has) been developing… Unfettered uses that can’t be capped on a road that isn’t supposed to be paved could end up creating a need for the road to be paved. And that’s the situation that we are attempting to avoid.
“What we are going to finalize with the planning commission is an amendment that would essentially take a couple of existing uses and remove them from the district. One of those is commercial recreation because that use hasn’t been compliant with the comprehensive plan for decades. We don’t allow commercial uses.
“Then you had this concept developed 25 years ago that was educational retreat center. This was a hodgepodge of things going on in the conservancy district at the time. We have issues with those (educational uses) branching off into commercial uses. We need to tighten up that definition to prevent that.
“The big picture is that we need to supply clarifying language around the purpose of the conservancy land use designation so we can create more of a linkage with limits on traffic that would be from the transportation part of the comp plan.
“We are going to recommend changes as to how the uses are named and structured to avoid the issue that we have currently with commercial uses that aren’t supposed to be there. We need to succinctly word that definition because its vague.
The Supervisors will hold a public workshop on the proposed ordinance changes. Anyone wishing to participate should send their name to the clerk asking to have notice of consideration for this ordinance. They will then be notified personally of the date of the meeting.
• Election Judges: Supervisors appointed the following judges for the upcoming national election: Ann Brookman, Bobbi Hummel, Gretchen Davidson, Jacqueline Hogan, Darlin Kister, Jane Keller Malenfant, Sharon Mallman, Jeanne Matlock, Jean Pilla, Sue St. Sauver, Robert Swinehart, Mary Waldkirch and Donna Von Lehe.
• Supervisors voted to approve a $2/hr raise for election judges for all local and national elections.
• Sewer System: Pumps for the sewer system will be replaced with rental pumps as the township waits for permanent replacement pumps to arrive.
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