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Rule tweaks keep projects moving

Perham city councilors recently took a few small but necessary steps to keep four new developments moving along.

At a meeting last Wednesday, councilors approved two variance requests and made two zoning changes in an effort to help some local businesses and business owners meet their expansion needs.

One of the zoning requests, made by Professional Agronomy Services, was to rezone property at 904 Pinewood Circle from residential to industrial.

Professional Agronomy recently purchased the property with the short-term intent to refurbish the existing home on the lot into office space. In the long-term, the company plans to use the property for additional parking, and build a facility for cold storage.

The Planning Commission previously held a public hearing on the request; no one from the public spoke for or against it.

City Manager Kelcey Klemm said the residential property had been “an anomaly” in the industrial area, and rezoning it will bring it in line with surrounding properties. The rezoning is also in line with the city’s comprehensive plan.

The council also amended a zoning ordinance related to congregate housing, or assisted living facilities, and lot coverage for multi-family units.

The move will help pave the way for a 12-plex assisted living facility proposed for construction along Coney Street in the Clearwater First Addition.

The city’s previous ordinance regarding congregate housing applied to residential facilities for four or more elderly residents (who are provided with living and sleeping quarters, meals, laundry services, room cleaning and other optional services). The amended ordinance ups that number from four residents to eight.

It also allows congregate housing to be permitted in areas zoned for multi-family use. Minnesota State Statute allows congregate housing in all residential areas.

In addition, the new amendment increases the maximum lot coverage allowed for multi-family developments from 30 percent up to 40 percent, allowing for the construction of larger facilities.

Klemm said the amendments will help the ordinance work well with state statutes, and clear up permitting inconsistencies that have existed in the past.

A public hearing held on the matter in June garnered no public comments.

The first of two variance requests approved by councilors last week, however, did garner some reaction.

The variance relates to property restrictions on a multi-family parcel at the corner of 5th Avenue and 2nd Street SW. Originally utilized as a church, developer Dave Schornack is proposing to convert the structure on the property into four two-bedroom apartments.

The variance will ease the off-street parking requirement, lot size requirement and impervious lot coverage requirement on the property, in order to allow the proposed change of use for the facility.

People at a June 17 public hearing expressed multiple concerns with the plan to turn the building into apartments. Concerns were primarily over parking and snow removal issues, building and grounds upkeep, and increased noise from renters and barking dogs. Residents who live nearby wanted to make sure there would not be any issues.

After the hearing, planning commissioners recommended that the council approve the variance request, but contingent on Schornack creating a paved 50-by-18-foot off-street parking space on the east side of the property.

No change is being made to the existing footprint of the structure.

The other variance request approved by councilors last week affects an expansion project at Barrel O’ Fun Snack Foods.

The variance will allow Barrel O’ Fun to encroach 14 feet into a required side yard setback of 15 feet in order to expand warehouse space.

Due to boulevard space, the expanded warehouse will still be about 16 feet away from 6th Avenue NW. The future warehouse area is currently a paved parking lot.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Perham Focus more than five years ago, and has since worn many hats as writer, editor and page designer. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their one-year-old son, Simon, and their yellow lab, Louisa. 

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