Entries Tagged 'Planning Commission' ↓

Are Developers paying too much in Platting Fees? Absolutely NOT!

If anyone has been paying too much for NEW infrastructure and development, it has been the tax payers of Sioux Falls. When the 2nd Penny sales tax was raised to a full penny over a decade ago to fund infrastructure expansion, the promise was developers would put in 40-60% into that fund in platting fees. That hasn’t happened, not even close. In fact, taxpayers at one point were putting in over 10x more into that fund then the developers.

Well apparently some developers are now crying the platting fees are too much (about $20K per acre on vacant lots in undeveloped areas). Sioux Falls City Councilor Greg Neitzert talked about it in a recent post on his Facebook page. He seemed to be sympathizing with the developer because they used the tired old excuse that they pass those prices to the consumer of the new development. Well duh. The consumer is getting brand new sewer, water, and roads, why shouldn’t they pay the cost? How is charging me extra in sales taxes fair? What do I get out of it except higher taxes and water/sewer rates?

In about 50% of US cities with populations of 25K or more they charge the developer a 100% of the cost of new development infrastructure, so current users are not subsidizing new growth. This makes sense, because as I have often argued, new growth without a plan to pay for it, makes no sense. Slow growth that is properly funded is fiscally responsible to taxpayers. When developers don’t have enough workers to build their developments, that should tell us that maybe the ‘growth’ isn’t needed. Who are you building and expanding for?

I think we should eliminate platting fees all together and have developers instead pay for the entire cost of new infrastructure. If the NEW development is really truly needed, it will pay for itself. That’s just common sense.

Cooper’s retirement is no surprise, and neither will be his replacement

There has been plenty of public and private conversation about Mike’s retirement;

After a 32-year career with the city of Sioux Falls, Director of Planning and Development Services Mike Cooper Monday announced plans to retire from municipal government next spring.

Before the TenHaken was even elected, there were plenty of people saying Mike would retire in 2019. You can’t blame him, he put in his time. I also don’t think he was forced out. I think this was a planned process that Mike had full control of.

His retirement isn’t the grand mystery surrounding the announcement, this is;

The city will conduct a national talent search to fill the Cooper’s position as director of Planning and Development Services. The director is appointed by the mayor with advice and consent of the City Council.

Why waste the taxpayer’s money? I have said all along that former city planner and now COS, Beck, was going to replace Cooper. Maybe I am wrong, maybe she likes signing Paul’s executive documents and baby sitting TJ NelsOver, but I’m guessing someone who has spent a lifetime in planning and development and went to the same school Cooper did (Metli-Lloyds Planning Academy) is gearing up to take the job. The planning/community development re-org, the rah-rah sessions about TIFs and various other policy decisions Beck has been behind make it pretty clear who is ‘seeking’ that position.

Of course, the administration will put on a big show, but seriously, just spare us the smoke and mirrors, appoint Beck in April when Cooper leaves, and save us the drama.

Sioux Falls & Minnehaha County Joint Planning Commission Meeting

I guess they have been filming these for awhile.

November 26, 2018

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda Dec 3-5, 2018

All I can really say is that the first week of the last month of the year is going to be super busy for the Sioux Falls City Council.

One of the first things you will notice while perusing the council agenda is that SIRE after years of being horrible has finally been upgraded. My first reaction is that it really isn’t much different, in fact some things are worse.

• It looks as though the video is NOT working on my MAC but is on my I-Phone and PC.

• While some docs seem to appear in the upper right side when you click on agendas, like before, some don’t. You can look at the total agenda doc or PDF which is troublesome because you have to scroll through the whole document to see certain supporting docs. The city council’s doc alone is 741 pages. Dumb. They also changed the numbering system using more lettering as sub items.

Like most things in city government, it seems like things related to openness and customer service can be broken for years and once they do ‘fix’ it, it’s only worse.

Audit Committee Meeting • Monday, December 3, 2018 at 4 p.m.

Eide Bailly will be using their team from Fargo to conduct the city audit this year.

There will be a staffing update and how the hiring process is coming along for a new internal auditor.

Great Bear Audit determined that the GM signs checks to himself for payroll and reimbursement and had no written policy in place for the card purchasing program. Those items will be corrected. It amazes me that the city who heavily subsidizes Great Bear would leave such trust to one person, wait a minute. It doesn’t surprise me.

Here are some charts from the Financial Conditions Assessment; Notice the top five property tax payers in SF only make up a small percentage. Why? Because some of the biggest landowners of the city are the city itself, the school district and non-profits. There is also a per-capita city debt chart, which is extremely misleading, because this is ONLY current city debt. It doesn’t include Minnehaha County Debt, School District Debt or future sewer plant debt, which I believe would put us well over $10K per person. I found the city employee ratio chart encouraging, and one of the reasons I argued against the admin building. I think with more technology we will need less city employees and more of them can work from home.

Updates of Audits in Progress.

2018 Audit Plan. You will notice that many audits were either moved to 2019 or eliminated. This is troublesome.

2019 Audit Plan includes SMG and Ovations who run the Denty. Still haven’t heard why Terry left?

Informational Meeting • Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at 4 p.m.

Update on E-Bikes being allowed on the bike trail, which I think is fine.

City Council Employee Management. I found this line a little funny;

Internal Audit Manager, City Clerk, and City Council Operations Manager Compensation Need To Be Increased To Preserve Integrity Of Organizational Chart And Hierarchy.

In other words, if one of them gets a big raise, they all deserve one. I have often argued that pay isn’t the issue, it’s over staffing. I have suggested we eliminate our head city clerk and give that position to the Operations Manager and also eliminate the budget analyst and have the two assistant city clerks handle it together. Not sure if anyone noticed but before Greco took over as Head city clerk, the assistant city clerks used to answer Carnegie’s phone. Now when you call there, Greco answers. You would think a person we pay around $90K a year could have his assistants (two of them) answer the phone for Carnegie (We know they more than he does when it comes to ‘clerking’). Seems like someone is on a power trip.

Fiscal Committee Meeting • Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at 4:30 p.m.  (or after the Informational Meeting)

Update on City Grants and Awards.

Regular City Council Meeting • Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Item #7 Approval of Contracts.

Apparently the city needs to hire an interior designer?

We also are doing a structural engineering study on ‘Entertainment Facilities’ they don’t say which ones? Does this have to do with the siding on the EC? Or does it have to do with the North side of the Pavilion’s rumored issues with the foundation?

Item#14-16, Falls Landing is transferring it’s liquor license to the ‘Village on the River’ group, effective January 7, 2018. Falls Landing then will request to go only beer and wine. While it isn’t uncommon for bars to sell their licenses to other bars, I find this transfer interesting. First off, the dates throughout all the docs are wrong, it should be 2019. Secondly, the address listed of the transfer to 140 East 10th will be a construction site for the next two years. Are they planning on having a full-service bar in the construction crane? Maybe sidewalk patio seating this summer while you can watch the construction in progress? I’m wondering why the city would allow this group to park a liquor license for two-years while it collects NO tax revenue? Is the holder getting special breaks because of the public/private partnership?

Item #35, 2nd Reading of Public Input ordinance. I expect some surprises on this one either before the meeting or during the meeting.

Item #38-40, 2nd Reading, Public Utility rate increases. This should be an interesting discussion. Wondering if anyone will bring up that our Pleasure Palaces are not paid off with user fees.

Planning Commission Meeting Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 6 p.m.

Item #3A – Rezone for a NEW Banquet on the West side of Sioux Falls. I was actually surprised this was in the ‘Consent agenda’. It would be nice to hear the details as to why this is needed in a town with so many great opportunities and low unemployment.

Item #6A, Looks Market Restaurant is asking for alcohol licenses.

What Happened to Jeff Schmidt in Planning?

Jeff used to be the public face of the Sioux Falls Planning department, but lately, especially after the joint jurisdiction fiasco, nobody has seen him. He no longer comments on the planning show or does presentations to the commission and city council. I do understand he still works for the city. He must have gotten ‘reorganized’.

Celebrate bails on School for Deaf project/land

I heard last night that Celebrate has decided to pull out on the deal, even though they were slated to go in front of the Planning Commission. I’m not sure why they decided this way, but a parishioner told me that Pastor Keith felt there was too much turmoil within the congregation over the deal.

I also heard it was a ‘complicated’ deal.

Not sure if it had anything to do with the weird rules the Board of Regents imposes with land leases or not?

The good news is that the land could eventually be used as a new Whittier, which I think would be a better use for the land.

Celebrate Church moving forward with school for the deaf expansion

During planning preview, the Planning Department revealed that Celebrate Church will be moving forward with plans to expand on the former school for the deaf property.

It will be interesting to see the terms of the lease and agreement.

Sioux Falls Planning Commission CAN deny applicants

What do we always hear from the SFPC? We have to follow rules, and if the project matches the zoning, we HAVE TO approve it.

I have often argued they do NOT have to. Last Wednesday night they denied a casino on Minnesota Ave. 3-2 vote that was zoned properly for the usage. (Watch Meeting REPLAY, Item#6)

Don’t get me wrong, I agreed with their decision and was surprised it didn’t fail 5-0. Though the zoning fit, the casino was next to a bank and a children’s dance studio, not a good place for alcohol and gambling in my humble opinion.

But what I find hypocritical about the SFPC is they often tell neighbors they HAVE to approve projects because it meets standards. The casino met the zoning standards, but as the neighbors pointed out, bad location.

Let’s face it, when they approve applicants and use the excuse they HAVE to approve something, all they are really saying is, “The developer has more money and influence than God and we really don’t care how it affects you.”

It’s easy to deny a middle class immigrant applicant (which they do quite often) but when Sanford or another large developer steps up to the podium all of sudden the neighbors be damned.

The SFPC did the right thing on Wednesday night by denying this applicant, they need to do it more often, no matter what they say, they DO have the right to deny ANY applicant, even the ones with fat wallets.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Monday Nov 5, 2018

The SFCC will meet again on a Monday instead of Tuesday next week.

City Council Informational Meeting • 4 PM • 11/5/2018

Lots of interesting presentations without any SIRE docs or attachments at the present time. I guess they want it to feel like Christmas morning Monday afternoon.

Presentations include;

• Update on Cascade Project (who cares)

• Levitt Shell update

• Population projections (this should be good, wonder if they will bring back ol’ bowl cut to inflate them?)

• Legislative priorities (what kind of anti-citizen legislative have they cooked up this time?)

City Council Regular Meeting • 7 PM • 11/5/2018

Some more Siouxper Hero awards.

Planning Academy Graduates (wonder if they will all get a Sanford or Lloyd shirt?)

Item#1, Approval of contracts;

Apparently it costs $32K to fill a couple holes at the Pavilion. Could have given me $500 and a few sheets of sub flooring and call it good. Oh and BTW, the $32K is for ‘design and engineering’ of filling the holes. It will cost more to do that.

Items #25-26, 2nd Reading. Both controversial zoning items in which the neighbors oppose. Both have apparent drainage issues, and one they want the building turned around. I expect a lot of testimony on these and probably some yipping back and forth between councilors on allowing enough public input. As I have said, they could solve all of this by making it unlimited as long as they are NOT repeating themselves, saying what others have said or being offensive. Works for the MCC. I think both will pass, but I do expect some votes of dissent on them. So I guess Mickelson will get his apartment building, but probably not his tobacco tax.

Item #34, 1st Reading, Woot! Woot! An extra million left over for streets!

Item #35, 1st Reading, There the SFCC goes again, taking care of the important business, gas fire pits Downtown!

Items #36-37, 1st Readings, more naming rights to the indoor pool. Ironically one is sponsoring greasy pizza, the other healthcare. LOL. Maybe the place will eventually break even.

Item #40, Resolution, Union Agreement with the SF Firefighters. (Summary Report: Summary-union-agree)

I found it interesting that if a FF performs ALS they get an extra $1 an hour;

While I don’t have an issue with that, I find it interesting that we don’t just pursue a public ambulance service where the taxpayers of SF would get some kind of reimbursement instead consistently subsidizing a private ambulance company. If we are showing up FIRST and provide life saving care, we might as well just haul the patient to the hospital. It’s insane that we are now subsidizing a private company because we can’t depend on them to show up in time.

SF Planning Commission • 6 PM • WED 11/7/2018

There is only one item that planning staff made NO recommendation, a Casino next to Wells Fargo on 26th & Minnesota (Item#6) it may have something to do with the plans being written on a bar napkin?

Smithfield Expansion, you don’t know unless you ask

I’ve noticed that Stormland-TV has been trying to get a comment from Smithfield about their expansion and have had little luck. So with the help of Councilor Theresa Stehly and Council Operations Manager, Jim David I had them direct some of my questions to the Planning Department. Here was there response;

I have looked into your request below and have the following information;

  1. A stormwater management report was submitted to the City of Sioux Falls Engineering Department at the beginning of this year for our review prior to a permit being issued for the $12,500,000.00 hog barn expansion.  City Engineering staff reviewed the stormwater management report and found it to meet City requirements;
  2. Smithfield obtains a permit from the State of South Dakota for water discharge into the Big Sioux River because of their onsite treatment facility;
  3. A FRRP (Flood Risk Reduction Project) Alteration request was submitted to the Corps of Engineers (Omaha District) at the end of May 2018.  The request was approved by the Corps and submitted to the Environmental Engineering Team with the City;
  4. In regards to Planning Commission and City Council Review the site is zoned and has been zoned for some time I-2, Heavy industrial.  This zoning district allows a Stockyard/Slaughtering of animals as well as processing.  Therefore, additional approvals by the Planning Commission and City Council are not required.
  5. You are correct it is existing Smithfield land.  It is being constructed on the site of the old holding barn as well as some employee parking spaces.  One aspect I forgot to mention is the new building will have a concrete floor that will be washed down daily.  The old barn had a wood floor and they had to use bedding materials that generated most of the odor. 

Thanks again for your inquiry.  Smithfield met all the requirements of our ordinances; therefore, we were able to issue them a building permit.  If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to email or call.  Thanks.

Jason Bieber

Urban Planner, City of Sioux Falls