Regular Planning Commission


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Meeting Date: 09/23/2021  
By: Chris Anderson, Community Development

PUBLIC HEARING: Consider Request for a Variance to Minimum Lot Size for Multiple Proposed Lots in Lynwood Subdivision, Located West and South of 15050 Armstrong Boulevard (Project No. 21-122); Case of Lennar
Lennar (the "Applicant") is attempting to address Density Transitioning for their proposed Preliminary Plat of Lynwood Subdivision.  The project is on PID # 20-32-25-44-0003 (the "Subject Property"), which is located south and west of Fire Station #1 (15050 Armstrong Boulevard).  The Applicant has modified their Preliminary Plat to provide 80-foot wide lots, per City Council direction.  As proposed though, the lots would extend to the western and northern boundaries of the Subject Property.  Staff has directed the Applicant to provide an outlot for the density transitioning corridor (which would be owned by the HOA), which reduces the size of all twelve (12) of the proposed single family residential lots.  The reduced lot size drops six (6) of the lots below the minimum lot area requirement of 0.25 acres.
The City attempted to notify Property Owners, as reflected in the Anoka County Property Records, within 350 feet of the Subject Property of the request.  The Public Hearing notice was also posted in the City's Official Newspaper, the Anoka County UnionHerald.
The Applicant has submitted a Preliminary Plat for a residential subdivision that includes twelve (12) single family residential lots in the northwest corner and 125 attached townhome units across the remainder of the Subject Property.  The Subject Property has a split zoning designation of R-1 Residential (MUSA) - 80 (northwestern corner) and R-3 Residential (High Density).  The City Council has introduced an ordinance to rezone the R-3 Residential (High Density) portion to R-2 Residential (Medium Density).

North and west of the Subject Property are existing single family residential lots that are zoned R-1 Residential (Rural Developing).  As proposed, the project transitions from R-2 Residential (Medium Density) to R-1 Residential (MUSA) - 80 to R-1 Residential (Rural Developing).  However, density transitioning is required with the proposed project due to the existing neighborhood to the north and west of the Subject Property.  Landscaping is proposed to satisfy this requirement.  City Code requires either a 45 foot wide corridor with 8 overstory trees, 8 understory trees, and 8 evergreen trees per 100 feet of property boundary adjacent to an impacted use or a 35 foot wide corridor with a berm and 4 overstory trees, 4 understory trees, and 4 evergreen trees per 100 feet of property boundary adjacent to an impact use.

The Preliminary Plat includes a forty-five (45) foot wide corridor, with berming throughout much of it, as well as landscaping (trees).  Presently, this corridor is included in the rear yards of each of the single family lots.  But, City Code states that the density transitioning area is supposed to be held in common ownership.  Staff has suggested that the density transitioning area be separated from the lots and platted as an outlot.  Since there are townhomes as part of this project, the Applicant has confirmed that there will be a Home Owners Association (HOA) and that the HOA could own the outlot.

By creating a separate outlot for the density transitioning, the lot sizes are impacted (size reduction).  Lots 3, 4, and 8-11 all would end up being deficient of the minimum required lot size of 0.25 acres.  Lot sizes for these lots would range from 0.20 acres to 0.22 acres.  It is worth noting that the proposed density transitioning corridor includes berming throughout much of it, which means that the corridor could be reduced to 35 feet (proposed as 45 feet).  However, that would result in lot sizes of approximately 0.23-0.24 acres, which is just below the minimum threshold and thus, would still need a variance.  As proposed, it appears that this provides more transitioning for the adjacent neighborhood, with negligible differences in lot sizes.

When contemplating a variance, a three (3) factor test must be applied to determine practical difficulties:
  1. Reasonableness - The project requires density transitioning and what is being proposed exceeds the minimum standard but results in multiple lots falling just shy of the minimum lot size.  A slightly wider transitioning area seems like a reasonable trade-off for lot sizes that fall 0.05 to 0.03 acres short of the minimum required lot size of 0.25 acres. 
  2. Uniqueness - There is a large, linear wetland cutting across the southern portion of the Subject Property.  As proposed, there are no impacts to this wetland.  If the project is required to shift south and east to accommodate the minimum required width of the density transitioning corridor and meet the minimum lot size requirement, it would likely result in impacts to the wetland.
  3. Essential Character - While the project itself will impact the essential character of the locale (converting agricultural land to housing), the reduced lot sizes should not for two primary reasons.  First, there will be a 45 foot wide corridor with berming and landscaping throughout much of it, owned by the HOA (separate from the individual lot owners).  Secondly, the proposed lots will still be 0.20 to 0.23 acres in size, which would not be noticeable to the general eye.

Alternative 1: Approve the requested variance to lot size.  The proposal provides a slightly wider than required density transition corridor, which provides more separation for the existing, adjacent residential properties.  The slightly deficient lots are not likely to be noticeable to the general eye.  Staff is supportive of this alternative.

Alternative 2: Do not approve the variance to lot size.  This would require the reconfiguration of the preliminary plat to ensure that all lots meet the 0.25 acre threshold while still also meeting the minimum density transitioning standards along the north and west boundaries of the Subject Property. 
Funding Source:
The Applicant is responsible for all costs associated with this request.
Staff supports the request as it helps avoid potential impacts to a wetland complex on the Subject Property, creates a wider density transitioning corridor, and the resulting reduces lot sizes are are just slightly below the minimum area requirement.
Motion to adopt Resolution #21-273 granting a variance to minimum lot size for Lots 3-4 and 8-11, Block 1 of the proposed Lynwood Subdivision.

Site Location Map
Site Plan
Lot Size Exhibit
Resolution #21-273: Variancec

Form Review
Inbox Reviewed By Date
Bruce Westby Bruce Westby 09/17/2021 09:54 AM
Form Started By: Chris Anderson Started On: 09/15/2021 10:31 AM
Final Approval Date: 09/17/2021


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