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Announcements, Events, Recently Updated

SEPTEMBER 18, 2012

The special meeting of the Rogers Planning Commission was held on September 18, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. was called to order with Commissioners Denker, Knapp, Martin, Meadows, Busch, Noto, Terhaar and Swanson were present.

Also present were City Planning Consultant Steve Grittman, City Administrator Stahmer, Deputy Clerk Splett, Mayor Bunting and Councilmember Stanley.

Member(s) excused: Ende.

No one wished to speak.

The agenda was set as submitted.

No items.

A. Public Hearing to Consider a Request by HOM Furniture and Lowes Home Centers, Inc. for a PUD to Allow the Modification of Signage, Site Improvements, and Indoor/Outdoor Commercial Land Uses, Located at 13800 Rogers Drive
Planning Consultant Grittman provided the background information commenting on the following:
• Proposed PUD on the vacant Lowes site, by HOM Furniture and their other brand stores
• This is a single Master and Final PUD – not multi-staged
• Requesting flexibility from the zoning ordinance in a number of areas
• Provided a list of uses – would like to be insulated from coming back in the future with further development of the site
• Meets our comprehensive plan and land use plan
• Want to eliminate Lowes branding on the site with theirs
• Minor changes to the wall lighting, colors, etc. – site plan will retain the landscaping, striping of the parking lot will be in various colors
• Parking requirement for Lowes was much greater than what would be required for furniture sales. Also would like to have less parking required to enable development of additional pad sites for future development.
• Applicant is requesting 232 parking spaces. Currently there are 564 parking spaces on site.
• Staff would like a fixed number of parking spaces included in the PUD agreement to be used for future changes and/or development of the site and re-use of the property.
• Future development of property would require possible re-subdivision, site plan approvals, and following the process for any changes to the site that are in place at that time. Won't give approvals now for something in the future.
• Requested ability to move curb cuts – that should be reviewed by City Engineer and Public Works Supt.
• Outdoor uses – events related display of goods – truck load sales, tent sales
• Signs – Would like flower planters and banners on the poles in the parking lot. The banners would not be considered as signage. There was discussion on how banners provide communication to passing traffic. These are decorative banners.
• Inflatables are not allowed by code. Applicant is proposing to have them in the display area only
• Searchlights are not allowed by code. There would need to be a specific exemption within the PUD to allow.
• Wall signage – applicant is requesting 1790 sq.ft. with the excessive setback of the building from the road. Staff suggested to cap wall signage at 1,480 square feet, by using approximately 2 square feet of wall sign per linear foot of the building which would be consistent with existing sign ordinance.
• Freestanding signs – 2 existing and requesting 1 additional

Chairman Noto opened the meeting for public comment.

The following comments were registered:
Commissioner Martin commented that a qualifying PUD brings value to the city, something above and beyond the normal to request the flexing of the city code. It is not only to benefit the developer/applicant but also the city.
Commissioner Noto asked what compromises have been reached, if any, to what is existing on the site and the requested PUD.
Planner Grittman stated that the signage has been scaled back significantly for the proposed 5 business entities.
City Administrator Stahmer stated that future development without a PUD would not allow additional building pads. He read from the code book the definition of a PUD.
Commissioner Swanson asked if there would be any upgrades to allow the PUD.
Planner Grittman stated not necessarily.
Commissioner Martin stated that the PUD process is not to be used as a tool to flex our code for developers to do what they want and what benefits them alone. This is not one sided, there are to be two benefitting parties.
Planner Grittman stated that it does allow some flexibility to enable this type of a development to occur on the commercial property now and in the future.
Commissioner Martin stated that he wants any future development to follow the proper process and by the current zoning rules at the time the development happens. He is not going to approve proposed future development today.
Commissioner Denker commented that this is a regular development it requires special approvals.
Commissioner Swanson inquired what is the City going to get in return for this?
Commissioner Martin stated that the with the continued use of the property in the future, it would be protected as a legal non-conforming property and any changes in the use would require an amendment to the PUD. They will be required to follow the normal process as would anyone else be. We want to keep working with you and will treat you the same as anyone else. Our code is for everyone to go by.

At this time, Rod Johansen, President/CEO of HOM Furniture introduced Mike Brady, Real Estate Leasing & Acquisition and Ralph Kloiber, Real Estate Director; and a Power Point presentation that provided the following:
• Concept drawing of the proposed project along with a 3D concept drawing
• History of HOM Furniture and Dock 86
• Review of the other brands that they have within their stores
• Exterior and interior pictures of their other store locations
• TV ads for all of the brands
• #1 in furniture, patio furniture and rug sales in Minnesota
• Unique concept of Dock 86
• Rogers location will be a test concept of being the first combined showroom
• Benefits and challenges for this location
• Overriding issues will be parking and signage
• Wall signage – requesting 1790 sq.ft. Provided examples of over signage in the area and at their other locations
• Uniqueness of the Dock 86 signage
• Additional pylon sign 35 ft. in height
• Feel this is a perfect project for this site

Rod Johansen stated that they current have a Purchase Agreement with Lowes and Lowes want their trademarks removed from Rogers. We are offering a project change to the facility that will remove their trademarks and replace with our new design that will be used at this location. We will be trying a new concept in having the 2 entities, Dock 86 and HOM Furniture, located together.
Commissioner Noto asked what makes Dock 86 different? Is it all clearance? Is Dock 86 competing against HOM?
Rod Johansen: No, they do not compete against each other. The will share space, but each offers different types of product with more accessories in Dock 86. The Rogers store will be our first combined showroom, largest in the state. This is a test concept for us and will have new exterior design. There will be big box opportunities here. We were able to have a low entry cost, the building is large enough to handle this new concept, we feel that there will be a draw presence with us located here with the new housing in the area, and Cabelas will also provide a good draw for us. Our challenges are not being located on the I-94 freeway corridor, population density, setback distance from Hwy. 101 and the loss of two big box stores from Rogers. We will more than likely be drawing customers away from our Coon Rapids and Plymouth stores.
Commissioner Noto inquired how many parking stalls are at the Plymouth and Coon Rapids stores?
Ralph Kloiber, Real Estate Director: I believe that Plymouth has approximately 150-175 parking stalls. It looks busy there.
Rod Johansen: Coon Rapids has approximately 90 stalls that are used by employees, will at total of approximately 200-300 stalls.
Commissioner Noto: I understand the wall signage, but where are you looking to use/put the inflatables? What type of inflatables?
Rod Johansen: What we are requesting is consistent with most communities. We are asking for less here than what we have at our Lakeville store. There is uniqueness to this location and it has not been the easiest project.
Commissioner Martin asked for a description of the inflatables.
Rod Johansen: They are used for the Sleep Express brand and are inflatable sheep, approximately 10 feet high.
Commissioner Martin inquired if they were a rigid 10 feet.
Ralph Kloiber stated that they are approximately 15 – 20 feet and are stationary.
Commissioner Martin asked if they are useful and bring customers into the store?
Rod Johansen: Yes, they are. We use them for major events.
Commissioner Noto asked if it was for the tent sales and/or trailer sales.
Rod Johansen: We use them for both. Trailer sales are held out of a semi-trailer.
Commissioner Martin asked if there was also signage on the trailer and what are you looking at length of events
Rod Johansen: We are asking for 60 days for all of the events.
Commissioner Martin asked how long is each event.
Rod Johansen: Tent events are usually 2-3 weeks and those are the bulk of our events. Our truckload events are 3-4 weekends a year.
Commissioner Martin commented that all events are included in the 60 day request and each event on average is approximately 2 weeks.
Rod Johansen: 2-3 weeks.
Commissioner Martin inquired about the proposed up wash lighting stating that uplighting is not allowed.
Rod Johansen stated that the up-washing is for the building. They are 2-3 feet off the ground and up-washing the building.
Commissioner Martin stated the use of poles would do the same thing.
Ralph Kloiber: You do not get the right type of lighting using the poles. We have tried to flood from top down and that does not work well. Up-washing provides better over-all lighting for the building and our customers.
Rod Johansen: It is important to keep in mind that night time is the best time for retail locations.
Commissioner Martin: Now let's talk about the search lights.
Rod Johansen: We have pulled back on the limit of the tracker lights to a 6 times.
Commissioner Martin asked if they are asking for 6 times a year – 1 day each time.
Rod Johansen: Yes, that is consistent with our events, which are held outside during our normal business hours.
Commissioner Swanson: All events are held during regular business hours then?
Rod Johansen: Yes. We would shut them down about 1 hour prior to closing. The closing time could be anywhere between 10 p.m. and midnight.
Commissioner Noto stated that there is sensitivity with the apartment complex right behind there. Doesn't want to see the same thing happened like the theater in St. Michael.
Rod Johansen: We would stop if it created issues. We want to work with the City and the residents.
Commissioner Martin asked is they are okay with the 255 parking spaces.
Rod Johansen: We would prefer the 232 parking spaces to have options for future development pads.
Commissioner Martin stated that all tent sales, truckload sales, or any other special sales would all need to be processed by City staff, limited to 60 days per year. I have no problem with the striping of the parking lot or the parking. Curb cuts should be reviewed by the City Engineer and the Public Works Supt.
Rod Johansen: We will comply with the current code
Commissioner Martin stated that all inflatables stay in the display area; and the up-wash lighting of building does not go over the building.
Commissioner Noto stated that he wants the up-wash directed at the building and no escaping over the top of the building.
Ralph Kloiber: We do not spot flood our buildings. The lighting will not go over the top of the building.
Commissioner Martin inquired if they were okay with 1,480 sq.ft. of signage.
Rod Johansen: I do have concerns with that. We are not shooting for the moon here, we are asking for less than what we have at other locations.
Commissioner Noto asked about future pad development, what do you see as uses for them.
Rod Johansen: We have developed other properties and we are thinking a restaurant, or strip mall would work here. That is why we would prefer the 232 parking stalls to allow us some room to work with.
Commissioner Martin stated that it would require an amendment to the PUD.
Rod Johansen: Restaurants are heavy users, they bring lots of traffic into the area also. Our first priority is to get our project operating before we develop further.
City Administrator Stahmer: Future development of this site would be required to follow the current codes at that time.
Rod Johansen: This is what I am competing with in the area (showed pictures of furniture stores in Maple Grove and Elk River). I am asking to have the same signage to get our store noticed. Our signage is our advertising to draw in the customers, we advertise by presence. The additional sign will be to attract traffic from Hwy. 101. We are asking for 35 feet high vs. the newly established 30 feet high along the I-94 corridor. This is a very important issue for us.
Commissioner Martin stated that they are asking for 2 times the height and 2 times the square footage that is allowed in this district. He asked Mr. Johansen if they could give up the additional 5 feet in height and keep it at 30 feet.
Rod Johansen: That makes sense, we can work with that.
Commissioner Martin commented that they are asking for 1,790 sq.ft. in signage, but isn't allowing 1,480 sq.ft. flexing.
Commissioner Swanson inquired if the Dock 86 sign was not being included in the calculations.
Rod Johansen: That is decorative, not signage. They look like real dock doors, but aren't
Commissioner Martin commented that dropping the parking stalls from 255 to 232 stalls may provide trouble later on down the road with additional development.
Rod Johansen: Our goal is not to hurt our own businesses. We will only enhance the area/property when we feel that our business is being successful. We feel that this is a quality property that we are developing and we take pride in our projects. This will draw people to Rogers. The signage will help them find us. This is going to be a challenging project.

Commissioner Meadows moved, Commissioner Martin seconded a motion to close the public hearing.

On the vote, all members voted AYE. Motion carried.

The Planning Commission discussed the following:
• PUD runs with the property as long as the property is continued to be used for the same purposes. Should anything change, it would require an amendment to the original PUD.
• Signage – some members felt that it was okay for the proposed project, others felt that we are straying from our sign ordinance too much.
• At the time of the sign ordinance adoption and revisions, all were aware that there would be projects that would request flexibility from the code
• All events are to be limited to 60 days total and follow the process to get event permits from City staff
• Should the city receive any complaints of the searchlights they will stop
• All inflatables will be located and remain in the display area only
• Doors for the Dock 86 portion of the building are not included in the signage calculations as they are decorative
• Any future development to the site will be required to go through the required process, not giving any approvals now for the future and will follow the current code at that time
• How much should the City give up for developers

Commissioner Martin moved, Commissioner Meadows seconded the motion to recommend approval of the PUD amendment subject to the following conditions:
1. Make no reference to the land use allowances in the PUD, deferring to zoning and Comprehensive Land Use Plan requirements in effect at the time.
2. Confirmation of proposed architectural and site plan changes as proposed by the applicant on submitted plans, with the exception that handicapped parking space striping retain the traditional blue paint color. Upwash lighting on the building shall extend no higher than the parapet. Outdoor display of for-sale items may be made on the sidewalk area directly adjacent to the building only.
3. Application of an off-street parking standard of 232 spaces for the existing building as requested by the applicants, exclusive of spaces utilized for tent sales, truck sales, other outdoor events, or future pad site subdivision or lease. Such future pad site subdivision or lease shall comply with all applicable zoning regulations at the time of such development.
4. Permit administrative approval of future proposed minor changes to the site or building, with a site plan review process under applicable zoning, signage, and/or subdivision rules for more substantive changes to the site.
5. Accommodation of outdoor events and displays as noted by the applicant, up to 60 total days per year for all such events and/or displays, with an understanding as represented by the applicants in meetings with staff, that the events will be scattered throughout the year, and not grouped to over-saturate the site with outdoor activity at any one time period. Such events would require the standard administrative permit approval for the events themselves.
6. Accommodation for light pole planters/banners as described by the applicants.
7. Allowance of inflatable devices, limited to the front sidewalk display area of the site, only during the events noted in condition e. above.
8. Allowance for limited searchlight use – up to six single day events per year. Any such use shall be limited to an area at least 100 feet from the public right of way.
9. Wall signage of 1,790 square feet as submitted.
10. Approval of modifications to the existing freestanding signage identifying the site, formerly occupied by Lowes, provided that overall height is not increased.
11. Approval of one on-site freestanding sign, up to 200 square feet with a maximum height to be held to 30 feet.

On the vote, members Denker, Knapp, Martin, Meadows, Busch, Noto, Terhaar voted AYE, and member Swanson voted NAY. Motion carried.

Commissioner Denker moved, Commissioner Noto seconded a motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:03 p.m.

On the vote, all members voted AYE. Motion carried.

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