Inver Grove Heights moves forward with new zoning amendment


The look into a zoning amendment began after the property owners of 6047 Cahill Ave. expressed interest in having mixed use for the property, which has a barn and house.

Vacant house, barn renovations on Cahill spark request

 The Inver Grove Heights City Council took the first steps Feb. 13 to change a zoning district to allow a mixed residential/commercial use for an unoccupied house along Cahill Avenue. 

Stephen Link, community development director, said the property at 6047 Cahill Ave. is on the west side of the busy four-lane street. The large lot has a house that was built in 1923, a barn and a grove of trees, and is located just north of Cahill Dental Care. 

After a long discussion, the council members approved the first reading of the ordinance amendment, which allows a single-family residential use in a commercial B-1 zoning district.

“It would be allowed as an accessory, secondary use,” Link explained.

He added that the amendment would allow for limited, mixed-use residential and commercial in this area of Cahill Avenue. 

He said if the amendment were enacted after the second reading, it would pertain to all B-1 properties. He said there aren’t a lot of B-1 zoned areas — most are along Cahill Avenue between 70th Street and Upper 55th Street. 

Council member Rosemary Piekarski Krech asked how long the area had been B-1, and Link replied for as long as he could remember. He added there are a few properties along Cahill Avenue that are still residential homes, but they are zoned commercial. 

Link said the city planning staff recommended approval of the request. He added the Inver Grove Heights Planning Commission was split and did not make a recommendation on the zoning amendment. 

 

House, barn being renovated

Link explained that under the new zoning, someone would live in the house and run some type of business out of the remodeled barn.

Darin Crapser of Nexxt Level Homes., LLC., owns the property and Tony Sampair, his real estate agent, were at the council meeting to answer questions. 

Sampair and Crapser told Mayor George Tourville that city staff have already inspected the buildings and identified work that needs to be done to bring them up to code. Crapser said the improvements on the house are “almost there,” and it’s the barn that needs the most work.

Sampair said they were applying for building permits when the zoning issue arose. Crapser said they hadn’t realized the house was no longer properly zoned for residential use. 

“We’ve been trying to sell it as a commercial property for the last year and a half with mixed use,” Crapser said, adding they couldn’t find a buyer.

He said the plan then was to fix up the three-bedroom house to sell as a residence, but they found out they couldn’t because it had a commercial zoning.

Sampair said the intent is to now finish remodeling the house and then renovate the barn so it could be used for commercial purposes. He added that most people who have looked at the property have expressed interest in living in the house and running a business as well.

 

The amendment

Link said city staff’s intent is to have the owner of the business and the person living in the house be the same person. Link added that this is not specifically in the proposed ordinance, but is something that could be looked at before the second reading.

Link said the amendment would have three parts. 

The first is the residence would have to be secondary or accessory to the commercial use building. This means the commercial use has to be established before the business owner can live in the house. 

“This would avoid having commercial properties where the buildings are exclusively used for residential use,” Link said. 

The second part is that the residential part could only be used for residential purposes. This avoids complications with building code issues and how to define what parts of a house are for residential and commercial purposes. 

Link said the third part is existing houses in the commercial zoning district would have to meet residential zoning requirements for things like setbacks.

Two sites would be grandfathered in as business and residential. The first is Krech Iron Works and the second is an insurance company where the owners live in a house on the property.

Piekarski Krech asked if the insurance company were to go out of business, would the house no longer be allowed there.

Link said it would be grandfathered use that stays with the land, so the new owner could carry that forward. 

“Now as a grandfathered use, if it’s discontinued for a year this grandfathered right is lost,” Link said. 

Link said the property at 6047 Cahill Ave. had been grandfathered in as a residential home up until a few months ago, but lost that designation because the house has been vacant too long. 

Piekarski Krech made it clear there would have to be a business in the barn before someone could live in the house.

“So we would let nobody live in the home until we found a business that wanted to do both,” Sampair said. “Our intent is to get it further to completion so that it’s a turnkey, move in.”

The barn and the house are on the same tax parcel. City attorney Tom Kuntz said this means the barn can’t be sold separately from the house. Crapser said they were never planning to sell them separately.

Piekarski Krech noted the property is being taxed as residential property and that it was no longer homesteaded because no one is living in the house. She said there was nothing about business or commercial use on the property-tax information. 

Sampair said the last time he looked into this, the classification had changed on the property, but because taxes are paid for the prior year, the county tax statements said one thing and the actual tax statement in another database said something else. 

Piekarski Krech said she wanted to get the tax classification of the property figured out. She also asked if the property would meet setback requirements, which it would. 

Council member Tom Bartholomew said he would want the amendment to include the owner of the business and house be the same person. 

The first reading passed unanimously. Piekarski Krech said she needs more information for clarification of what the tax status will be, and that the business will be able to meet the requirements of a business property. 

A second reading of the zoning amendment will take place at a later date. 

 

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

 

 

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