Menan subdivision hits snag
The Menan City Council supports developing Settler’s Cove, a planned subdivision in soon-to-be annexed land. But it simply can’t be done without several changes to city ordinances.
During a long discussion April 13, property owners Greg and Becky Nelson, along with Kevin Thompson, of Thompson Engineering, met with the city on a preliminary plat of the subdivision. It didn’t take long to discover that the Menan Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation to approve the subdivision could not happen right now.
The subdivision is out of compliance for required green space, sidewalks, trees, and a restriction on length of loop streets.
Some things, like a requirement for green space cannot be changed easily, as it is required by the Menan Comprehensive Plan. The ordinances can be amended easier, as long as it still conforms to the plan.
Councilman Keith Nelson said that the property owners were welcome to suggest changes to the city’s ordinances and the council would consider them at an April 20 work meeting to be held in the Menan City Building at 7 p.m.
Planning and Zoning Commissioner Jason Watson read a letter with concerns P&Z had, and suggestions to change the design.
Try as they might, and after over an hour of debating the reasons for the ordinances, the council decided that the preliminary plat could not be approved.
According to Menan’s codes, a subdivision must contain at least 10 percent green space for public access and recreation. The land must be deeded to the city for it to take over maintenance, serving as a kind of park.
The proposed subdivision’s green space was along a ditch bank, in people’s back yards, and would be inaccessible.
Thompson proposed turning a lot and a half of wetlands into green space to compensate, however, it would be against Menan’s codes as the wetlands must be preserved and could not be used.
Mayor Tad Haight said that the city should consider the cost of maintaining parks in every subdivision, and suggested that the city allow developers the option to pay money instead, which could then be pooled and used to develop larger parks.
Councilman Noel Raymond said that the comprehensive plan was devised with the purpose that people should have green areas in their neighborhoods to enjoy.
The Nelsons and Thompson questioned the 10 percent requirement as it could make the development unprofitable. The proposed subdivision is 25 acres.
“Two and a half acres (for a park) is huge for a community that size,” Becky Nelson said.
She also asked if the sidewalks could count toward the 10 percent as a walk path. Keith Nelson said that he would be willing to work with the landowners and developer on adding it to the total, but wondered if enough land would be added to equal the 10 percent.
For comparison, the Menan City Park is three-and-a-half acres.
The ordinances also call for trees to be planted near the streets, but Maintenance Supervisor Matt Walker said, and the council agreed, that the trees make maintaining utilities more difficult.
The subdivision also has a loop street as opposed to a grid. Loop streets are allowed, however the length of the street in the subdivision is in violation.
Haight said that the city needs to clean up its ordinances. It has scheduled work meetings in order to identify ordinances not working well. The next scheduled meeting was April 20, and he invited the landowners and Thompson to attend with their suggestions to change.
A big concern for Raymond was the water table. He said that there should be no basements in Menan, because they will flood when the sub-water comes in.
Thompson said that he would set up four-inch pipes in areas around the proposed subdivision to monitor the water levels coming in.