Ordinance amendment looks to regulate condo developments

Posted 1/18/22

Alderperson chastises mayor’s alleged attitude By Sarah Nigbor RIVER FALLS – A development group hoping to build condominium garages and two assisted living buildings in the town of Troy asked …

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Ordinance amendment looks to regulate condo developments


Alderperson chastises mayor’s alleged attitude

By Sarah Nigbor

RIVER FALLS – A development group hoping to build condominium garages and two assisted living buildings in the town of Troy asked the city to delay enacting a subdivision ordinance amendment regarding condominium developments so it can finish its project.

The River Falls City Council voted unanimously at its Jan. 11 meeting to approve the ordinance amendment, which will regulate condominium developments, and to delay its enactment 120 days, per the company’s request.

According to a city memo, “in order to ensure orderly growth and development” and to plan accordingly for infrastructure in areas adjacent to the city that may eventually be incorporated into the city limits, the city has “extraterritorial jurisdiction” over township land within a certain distance from city boundaries. This means the city has zoning authority in areas within a half-mile and subdivision authority in areas that fall within three miles of the city’s boundary.

Matt Eide of ACA Engineering in Hudson, representing EW Homes, spoke during the public hearing to ask the city to wait 120 days before enacting the ordinance amendment, which would fall in mid-May. This would allow the company to finish a condo project it started in Summer 2021, which will be located in the southwest quadrant of Highway 35 and Glover Road. This development falls within the city’s extraterritorial zoning area.

When the developers approached the city with a concept plan in May 2021, city staff realized the city’s subdivision ordinance didn’t address condominium developments; this meant condo developments could proceed without city review, resulting in land development in locations at odds with an orderly growth plan. The amendment states that the subdivision code applies to condo developments as well (when applicable); a condo unit and any commonly owned elements is equivalent to a lot or parcel created by a subdivision. Condo developments can impact community resources just like regular subdivision developments and will also be regulated with regard to density, land use and infrastructure capacity. Eide said when his clients contacted the city about the concept plan, the city planner told them the city doesn’t review condo plats in the extraterritorial zones. In October, the company found out the city was revising its ordinance to include condo plats. The original timeframe would have been 60 days. EW Homes requested more time, especially since it must go through St. Croix County and Troy Township as well.

Eide explained the units are not storage units, but rather garages in which people create “man caves” or work on cars, etc. Troy Condo Garages would have 190 units, while the two assisted living buildings would house 24 units in each building. The company is designing the project to be screened by landscaping and a berm from Highway 35. It eventually could be hooked up to city sewer and water.

Resident Tom Schumacher also spoke on behalf of residents in live in a condo development northwest of the city who are having title issues; they wanted to see the ordinance amendment enacted so they can resolve those issues in case they want to sell.

Community Development Director Amy Peterson said the ordinance change is not being enacted to block either development.

“They found a loophole in our ordinance that we’re looking to close and they’re simply asking for additional time,” Peterson said.

The only issue would be if the city receives another condo plat application in the next 120 days; it would have to be honored and the city would have no regulatory authority. Peterson said the chances of that happening are slim.

Mayor chastised

Alderperson-at-Large Ben Plunkett voted against accepting the Dec. 14 city council minutes because he said the record doesn’t accurately reflect Mayor Dan Toland’s attitude in introducing Assistant City Administrator Jason Stroud’s presentation on diversity, equity and inclusion.

“I found the words that you used were very dismissive, Mr. Mayor,” Plunkett said. “And I think they should be reflected in the record.”

Toland appeared baffled and said he couldn’t remember the words he used to introduce Stroud’s presentation.

“I believe it was something along the lines of ‘Now it’s time for us to get our talking to.’ Is that the approach the city takes to the issues Mr. Stroud raises?” Plunkett asked.

Toland apologized and asked Plunkett if that offended him. Plunkett was clearly offended, considering his answer.

“I found that it was very dismissive Mr. Mayor,” Plunkett said. “I think the rancid rot of Republican racism starts at the top.”

In viewing the Dec. 14 city council YouTube video, Toland’s introduction of Stroud’s presentation cannot be heard. In fact, the audio of the entire video is tough to understand.

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to offend anyone with whatever I might have said,” Toland said. “Sorry Mr. Stroud if I offended you with whatever I said at the beginning of the meeting six weeks ago.”

Law enforcement appreciation

Toland read a statement in honor of Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, which was recognized Sunday, Jan. 9.

“I want to unequivocally state that as mayor, working with the police chief and the city administration, knowing that the city recognizes the sacrifice that these faithful men and women and their families make to keep our community safe, I want to say you have my support and loyalty without question, reserve or hesitation,” Toland said.

Other business

•The council approved a change of agent for Kwik Trip #453. The new agent will be Julianne Chalupsky.

•The council approved a resolution approving the public participation plan for the Comprehensive Plan, Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and the Outdoor Recreation Plan. Public engagement will be sought online, via steering committees, a community survey, kickoff events, a city tour, pop up events, focus groups and walking/biking tours.

•The council approved Sterling Ponds’ Fourth Addition final plat, a 28-lot single-family and twin home subdivision, and an addendum to the developer’s agreement between the city and Arcon Development for Sterling Ponds. Alderperson-at-Large Scott Morrissette abstained during both votes.

•The following mayoral appointments were approved: Jacob Proue to the Housing Authority Board through December 2026 and Adam Gierl to the Utility Commission through May 2023.