After failing to receive information the Decorah Planning and Zoning Commission requested seven months ago, City Manager Chad Bird has closed the file on the proposed Traditions apartment complex.
In June, the Decorah Planning and Zoning Commission approved Traditions' site plan for a three-story, 60-unit apartment complex off Mound Street, pending the receipt of additional information. The property is located near Aase Haugen Home and part of the Riverwalk Subdivision.
Bird said he verbally requested the information from developer Brian Solsrud of the Minneapolis firm Bergen Financial Markets in November, followed by a written request in December. In his correspondence, Bird gave the developer a Jan. 9 deadline to provide the details or he would consider the application incomplete. The city manager did not receive a response to his letter.
Bird provided the Commission a status report during its meeting Monday night.
"I have closed the application and file on that project," he said.
Any development of the site will require a new application, according to Bird.
The Commission's approval of the Traditions' site plan was subject to the developer providing performance bonds in an amount acceptable to city staff and replatting the area to vacate utility easements where the apartment complex would be located.
"Seven months later, we still don't have the requested information. Out of respect for city employees, the Planning and Zoning Commission, it seems appropriate to administratively close the file," Bird told Decorah Newspapers.
For the second time in two months, the Commission decided Monday to table a decision on a request for a new residential zoning classification.
At its December meeting, the Commission tabled a review of a petition submitted by attorney Karl Knudson of Decorah and decided to invite the Council to its next meeting for a broader discussion of the matter.
Six of the seven members of the Council and Mayor Don Arendt attended Monday night's Commission meeting, where Knudson presented his petition. It was signed by 100 residents seeking the creation of a R-6 residential zoning designation for medium density residential condominium development. Knudson represents west side residents who are opposed to the Traditions apartment complex proposal.
In his petition to create a new residential zoning classification, Knudson said the current R-3 high density residential district zoning of Riverwalk is inconsistent with the city's comprehensive land-use plan "and such zoning had attracted and will continue to attract interest in inappropriate high density development in the unfinished portion" of the subdivision.
A new zoning designation would create an extra option for the city, according to Knudson.
"At present, condominium development is deemed inappropriate in any medium-density, residential zoning district, and condominiums can only be sited in a high-density residential district. Yet there are areas which are appropriate for condominium development but are inappropriate for high-density residential development," Knudson wrote in a letter accompanying his petition.
"The proposed new district would therefore create an intermediate district, filling a gap in our zoning ordinance by enabling medium density condominium districts, and would enable the city to better implement its comprehensive plan," he wrote.
Bird said before taking any action the Commission wants to analyze the results of a Winneshiek County housing assessment recently released that showed a long-term need of about 300 new housing units over the next 10 years and recommendations on how to reach that number. The study calls for 70 percent of the 300 units to be built in the immediate Decorah area.
Winneshiek County Development, Inc. hired RDG Planning and Design of Omaha for the assessment after a WCDI housing team studied issues throughout the county during much of 2013.
"They (Commission members) would like to spend more time assimilating that information and see if there is any congruency with what Karl is asking for and what the housing study might say," Bird said.