KFNA Green Committee
Present: Dave Saddoris, Darrell Gerber, and Karen Pieper
Absent: Dave Potosky
Temporarily on leave: Tom Parent
Also Present: Sarah Linnes-Robinson
The committee opened the meeting with a discussion of upcoming grants that may fit with the committee’s interests. MN PCA with a focus on area B “Creating More Sustainable Communities: Implementation of green building and water conservation programs, and citizen education to increase environmentally sustainable actions (Maximum grant $40,000; 25% match required)” was discussed as was trying to get the neighborhood LEED certified; it was determined that none of those present had the expertise to pull together a proposal regarding this in the two weeks until deadline. The committee discussed a grant that had gone in earlier this summer focused on organizing and educating neighbors on a block level regarding personal green actions. It was suggested that Linnes-Robinson rewrite this piece and submit it, if she found time to do so after completing the requirements for the MWMO grant which is due on the 30th.
A tech related grant from a small Wayzata company called “Live Green/Live Smart” was also discussed. Funds can be spent on research on energy efficiency and healthy habitats, information sharing, and direct action to foster a more sustainable environment.
There is no deadline to apply. However, the grant only pays up to $500 so before applying Linnes-Robinson wants to confirm that either Postosky can update the current web site with environmental info, or that he has found someone to reformat the web site and an environmental “section” can be developed.
Next the committee discussed the “noncompliance issue” of Deb and Dan Swenson-Klatt due to their removal of all parking in their backyard. Deb and Dan were one of the Kingfield stormwater demonstration sites. What follows is a summary of the relevant points:
Deb and Dan’s Background
Our project involved removal of easements on our property and our neighbor¹s to the north. Through this legal action, we relinquished access to our neighbor¹s driveway and removed a large paved driveway on our property and an old two car garage. We now park on the street and enjoy a large backyard that is permeable and that we¹ve begun to fill with gardens. To create some storage for bikes and garden equipment, we¹ve planned to build a shed on a part of the old garage site. This project was of course reviewed and approved by many involved in the KFNA project.
Two weeks ago, Dan sought a building permit for the storage shed. On Sept 21, we received a letter denying this addition because we are ³not in compliance with Chapter 541 of the Minneapolis Zoning Ordinance. Chapter 541 requires that one parking space be provided per residential dwelling unit. By vacating rights to a drive aisle easement on the property to the north, and removing the garage on your property, the number of parking stalls on your property has fallen below the threshold of conformance.²
This ordinance seems not only unreasonable, but also not reflective of the reality of many properties on blocks surrounding ours. First, as you know, our block and several others have no alley. We can count at least 5 properties on our block and those to the south and west that have no driveway or parking stall. Why an ordinance would require this when the neighborhood was designed a century ago to include lots without driveways and parking spaces makes no sense. Second, it is not logical to us that we would be denied a building permit for a storage shed because our property does not have a parking space. The two issues should be dealt with separately. Finally, our recent investment of thousands of dollars in this project and efforts to reach agreement with our neighbor to remove the easements from our title simply make it impossible to add a parking space to our property.
Deb and Dan
Table 541-1, Specific Off-Street Parking Requirements clearly indicates that residential dwellings are required to have 1 off-street parking space per dwelling unit. In addition, Section 541.30, Existing parking and loading facilities also requires that “Existing accessory parking and loading facilities shall not be reduced below the requirements for a similar new use. If existing accessory parking and loading facilities are less than the requirements specified in the Table 541-1, Specific Off-Street Parking Requirements and Table 541-7, Specific Off-Street Loading Requirements, they shall not be reduced further.
Both requirements have been in the Zoning Code since at least (if not longer) the 1999 Zoning Code update.
To remove a legal on-site parking space and not replace it would require a parking variance and approval by the Board of Adjustment.
Senior City Planner
Comments from Elizabeth Glidden
#1 – their specific issues (i.e. building a shed before winter) can best be resolved by reducing the size of the shed minimally because you don’t need a permit for a specific size. I think they are close to not needing a permit anyway. Other issues specific to them were driven by the fact that they no longer have an easement to use the driveway owned by their neighbor to the north. In a perfect world (and they agree) they would best be served to keep the easement so that a spot or pad for parking could be built in the future or be available to future owners. Their neighbor would not agree to let them keep the easement.
#2 – Steve suggested that if Kingfield wants to create a neighborhood plan or block plan supporting a policy change to eliminate the requirement of 1 parking slot per household, this could help resolve future issues (or an issue that might arise for Swenson-Klatt when they sell their home). I think the best way to proceed on this is for you to meet with Steve about what would be most helpful from a neighborhood perspective, if this is the direction Kingfield wants to explore.
The committee agreed that Deb and Dan might be able to construct their shed this fall by reducing its size to a point where it does not require a permit. However, to construct the deck on the rear of their house that they intend to build, they will most likely need a permit next spring. Thus the group felt they should apply for the variance now so that the “stigma” of noncompliance is removed from their property. Since their project has such a large environmental impact in it’s removal of over 1600 square feet of pervious pavement, the Green Committee would support them if they chose to apply for a variance and would recommend that the KFNA Redevelopment Committee do the same.
In case there is a “bigger” way of framing this issue that Steve Poor of Zoning sees as mentioned in Glidden’s comments above, Linnes-Robinson will also pursue his ideas on a block and/or neighborhood plan addressing this policy. The committee was not sure such a thing could really occur, or if it could if residents would support it, but from an environmental standpoint it seemed poor to them to require on-site parking for cars. Linnes-Robinson will report back Poor’s thoughts.
Lastly the committee reviewed the C&E Matrix developed at the time of Phase II planning. With the proposed cuts in NRP spending the committee recognized it might never be able to access the larger environmental pots of money for green building and alternative transportation support. However, also in light of the proposed NRP cuts, organizing and educating neighbors is more important than ever.
For 2008 the committee needs to pick some smaller doable projects to build connections and direct involvement with the committee, and thus the committee’s capacity. Household Hazardous Waste Day was felt to be important to do again. The committee then discussed partnering with other environmental groups to do some visible projects. Linnes-Robinson mentioned she has been seeing the need to reconnect with the neighborhood churches and some of them seem likely to have Green groups. Partnering to do storm sewer stenciling was talked about, as was hooking up with Master Gardens to do buckthorn removal. Gerber then mentioned that he knows speakers that would come at no charge to discuss Al Gore’s movie on Global Warming. This seemed a good possibility for a partnership with some of the churches. Also Gerber mentioned a city pilot program that may be started involving a demonstration area for compost collecting. Linnes-Robinson said she would pursue the idea with the City.
Minutes provided by Linnes-Robinson, 10/22/07.