Andover Council approves two city code changes

The Andover City Council Oct. 15 approved two changes to its city code to allow more flexibility with regards to home businesses and lot splits.

By unanimous vote, with Councilmember Julie Trude absent, the council said a renter could have a business in a home as long as the landlord approves it, but the renter must actually live at the address. The city previously restricted home occupation business permits to homeowners.

The council also amended its code to allow lot splits on a property to occur more frequently than once every three years.

Home occupation businesses

Community Development Director David Carlberg said a therapeutic massage business owner raised this issue.

Carlberg said this person was the one who encouraged the city in the mid-1990s to adopt an ordinance for these businesses and she had been operating out of her own home since then, but is now planning to move to a rental property.

“It’s no different than in a commercial area where you have a strip mall and that owner has rental spaces and they want to lease the space, but it requires additional city approval,” Carlberg told the Andover Planning and Zoning Commission at its Oct. 8 meeting.

The commission and council agreed to this idea, but there is still more discussion to come. Carlberg said these home occupation businesses are restricted to single-family home neighborhoods.

The commission in November will review the land use table, which could open the door to these businesses in more dense neighborhoods, although Carlberg said the draft land use table does not include this.

“The situation I’m thinking about is an apartment, a townhome or other high density where perhaps more scrutiny should be paid because people are closer together,” Planning Commissioner Kyle Nemeth said.

Planning Commissioner Lynae Gudmundson would like the city to consider interim use permits that would go away once the original business owner moves away rather than a conditional use permit that stays with a property even after the business owner moves. Carlberg said interim use permits are typically designed to expire after a short period of time, but the commission could discuss this further in November.

Lot splits frequency

Under city code, a property owner could not do more than one lot split every three years.

Last year, city employee Scott Allen requested a variance so he could do two lot splits at once in order to develop a small piece of property next to his Andover home.

Allen said at the time that the adjacent Cardinal Ridge Second Addition developer had already graded his property so it could avoid putting in a retaining wall, so he felt it made no sense for him to apply for a plat for two new lots when two lot splits would be much cheaper for him.

Carlberg and the council in June 2012 said the platting process is important because staff reviews how drainage would be impacted on the new and neighboring parcels. This drainage review does not automatically happen for lot splits.

Councilmember Mike Knight was the only councilmember then who believed the lot split variance made sense because it was compatible with the surrounding area.

The council approved one lot split for Allen in October 2012.

In November 2012, Trude at a workshop meeting brought this topic back to the council and said she would like to approve the additional lot split. The council discussed the issue over a few workshops and Carlberg suggested in January that a code change would be best as long as certain conditions were met,

A couple of conditions are that the applicant must own the property for at least five years and must still wait one year between lot splits. Carlberg said these provisions are to make sure property speculators do not just come in, buy large chunks of land and start doing multiple lot splits.

Other requirements are that no more three lots should be created including the original lot, which means the larger home developments still go through the platting process. City sewer and water must be available to the new lots. The grading and drainage of the sites must also be addressed. Carlberg said Allen’s property will be reviewed during the building permit application phase.

Trude said platting is “a costly process for someone not planning to be a developer,” so she felt these exceptions are fair.

A second lot split for Allen was approved at the same Oct. 15 meeting that the council approved the new ordinance. He fell within the new one-year waiting period between lot splits, but the council had to approve a variance Aug. 20 because the city at that time still required a three-year waiting period between lot splits, according to Carlberg.

Besides Allen’s property, Trude said city staff pointed out a few other properties around the community that would be affected by this ordinance change. This helps the neighborhood as well because vacant lots will get homes, she said.

“This might bring a few lots into the market that may not otherwise happen,” Trude said.

Eric Hagen is at [email protected]