NEW ULM — The New Ulm Planning Commission recommended approval of a variance request that would allow the operation of a dog kennel in the former Heymann Construction building.
The owner of Minnesota Canine Club, Jon Hansen, requested a residential setback variance to locate a commercial kennel at this location. City zoning requires a minimum setback of 1,000 feet for a commercial kennel from a residential zoning district. Extra Large Outdoor Dog Pen
The closest residential property to the former Heymann building is 240 feet away on Valley Street. There are properties 400 feet away on German Street.
City Planner John Knisley noted multiple unique features of this property. Technically, the nearest zoning district is 100 feet to the west of this property, but this property is the BMX Track/Skate Park and has no dwellings.
Other unique circumstances include the property’s proximity to the city dog park. The dog park is roughly 1,200 feet from the proposed kennel. The area is already associated with dog traffic.
Between the proposed kennel and the nearest residence are the Canadian Pacific railroad and the BMX Track. It is not likely either property will be developed into residential uses in the future.
The proposed location of the outdoor kennels faces the interior of the property. There are existing steel buildings between the outdoor kennel locations and the property lines to the East and West, potentially reducing noise from leaving the site.
One of the reasons for the 1,000-foot variance is to reduce noise from a kennel, but there are a number of noise-generating uses already surrounding this property.
Knisley also stated the city attempted to work with Hansen to find an available space in the city that fits all the criteria and is 1,000 feet from residential dwellings, but found no other suitable property. There were very few locations in New Ulm that were 1,000 feet from residential dwellings.
Knisley later said staff believed the 1,000-foot setback in the ordinance was too restrictive.
The Planning Commission’s greatest concern with granting the setback was possible noise issues from the dogs, particularly when outside.
Hansen stated that if he were able to move into this property, there would be more interior space and dogs would be outside less often. He was also willing to limit the number of hours the animals were outside.
Commission Chair Anne Earl had additional concerns about parking. The site had off-street parking available, but she believed the kennel would need more space during animal training classes.
It was determined there was extra parking available on 3rd South Street that could be utilized during training classes. For general drop-offs and pickups, the available off-street parking was sufficient.
Commission Dave Munson made the motion to recommend the setback variance with conditions. One of the conditions stipulated the animals could not be outside between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays and between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The recommendation was approved by the commission and will come before the city council for approval on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
The commission held a second public hearing to consider amending the city code to allow warehousing/distribution as a Conditional Use in the Community Business (B-3) zoning district.
The request was coming from the Community Development Department. City Planner John Knisley explained this amendment would impact all B-3 properties in the cities. If the city approved the amendment, all owners of B-3 properties would have the option to apply for the permit.
During a recent city council meeting, Eric Bode made a request that the city considers making this amendment. Bode wants to use the former Target building on South Broadway as warehouse space. The location is currently zoned B-3, but this zoning does not permit warehousing. The city previously indicated a willingness to permit warehousing at this site. In 2020, August Schell Brewing Company made a similar request to use the former Target building for warehousing. Schell’s plan never went through, but Bode is now considering purchasing the Target property for similar use.
City staff was recommending the amendment be approved to provide flexibility in dealing with land uses for properties in the B-3 zoning district. Staff noted there was a limited amount of B-3 zoned property in New Ulm and it was a challenge to find other uses for large commercial buildings like the former Target building.
The commission unanimously recommended the amendment to the city code with the understanding that any applicant wanting to use a B-3 zoned property for warehouse space would still need to apply for a Conditional Use Permit or Interim Use Permit. Any of these permit requests would need to come before the planning commission before being approved.
The amendment will come before the city council for approval on Tuesday, Jan. 3.
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