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Afton City Council approves impervious surface percentage

After many weeks of discussion and bouncing back and forth between the city council and the planning commission, on Jan. 20 the Afton City Council approved an ordinance amendment allowing up to 35 percent impervious surface area in the I1-C zoning district in the Industrial District, as long as it is mitigated to meet city requirements.

The ordinance was presented to the planning commission at its January meeting after the council had received findings from a WSB & Associates' hydrologic study.

The study analyzed the effects a 35 percent impervious development area, specifically the 69.7 acre agricultural area located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Manning Avenue South and Hudson Road South, would have on the receiving wetlands in regards to water run-off.

The study concluded that there would be a slight rise in elevation of between .06 and .07 feet at both the FAL-31 Wetland and the FAL-32 Wetland, for any given event.

This means any occurrence of precipitation, however this is not an exponential increase since the run-off levels will eventually level off due to the dry periods and the required mitigation that will occur at a neighboring drainage pond.

During the meeting the owners of the property that would be affected by the ordinance -- FOC, LLC, and Atomic Properties Inc., who are also currently involved in a lawsuit again the city -- expressed their displeasure with the ordinance through a letter presented to the council.

The letter was sent by Kelly & Lemmons, P.A. on behalf of their clients.

"By this letter, our clients wish to voice their displeasure with the proposal, which still unnecessarily and improperly restricts their ability to effectively use their property," Christine M. Swanson from Kelly & Lemmons said.

"More than that, however, our clients wish to at least note for the record that they were never given individual notice of the proposed amendment or any of its hearings, nor were they otherwise invited to participate in the process of considering the proposal."

Patricia Punch Pearson, one of the property owners, said they are very displeased about the path this ordinance has taken because not only does it restrict the way they can use their own property, but she believes that a hidden agenda could be at work.

"It's not a very transparent government practice and leads one to believe there are other motives behind this type of action," she said of the ordinance.

"While the city of Afton would like the public to believe the land is agricultural, the zoning is actually 'light industrial', not agricultural.

"Though it is zoned for light industrial use, the ordinances serve to limit use to agricultural or limited residential purposes and that is one of the reasons that there are several pending lawsuits against the city of Afton."

Pearson and the other property owners requested the decision be postponed until they can be involved in the decision, perhaps at another public hearing.

City attorney Mitchell Converse informed the council that they have acted within the legal limits and that a decision to approve the ordinance would be legal.

The council decided to approve the ordinance despite the property owners displeasure since they had every opportunity to be involved and voice their opinions whether or not they were notified individually.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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