PALMER — The Palmer City Council considered a set of variances from the standard code for curb and gutter as well as lighting on a proposed subdivision that would be adjacent to the current Cedar Hills subdivision.
Cedar Park Properties LLC CEO Connie Yoshimura presented to the Palmer Council on May 25 along with members of her engineering staff to detail the mitigation of storm water and the reasoning behind the variances. Resolution 21-015 included five variances from code in total. Palmer City Manager John Moosey approved three and the council operated in a quasi-judicial role in finding facts to support reasoning for whether or not to accept the variances for the proposed large-lot subdivision.
“When you walk through and drive through the subdivision as we have created it in our minds and in reality that you will feel a sense of pride as well,” said Yoshimura. “I want you to understand that there will always be a light on at each one of these driveways because we’ve created a homeowners association to take care of that situation and architectural control for the entire subdivision as well as landscaping.”
The Cedar Park subdivision would include 83 one-acre lots on the north end of Palmer along the west side of the Glenn Highway. Council opened a public hearing where Eric Anderson spoke against the proposed variances.
“The focus and your role tonight is to receive information and then deliberate on whether you believe there’s enough information to approve or disapprove the variance requests based on the standards in code,” said City Attorney Michael Gatti.
Yoshimura noted that the creation of the homeowner’s association would place the burden for lighting replacement on each individual homeowner and noted that while sidewalks would not be included, a trail was proposed. While standard light poles are at least 20 feet high, the smaller light poles proposed would not fall under specific city code requirements.
“Honestly with what they’re asking for, I would say that doesn’t even come close to the intent of our standard for street lighting,” said Public Works Director Chris Nall.
Nall spent time discussing the variances with the developers prior to the council discussion and provided input on the flow of water through storm drains, particularly during winter melt.
“Is it our standard of curb and gutter, no. But we sat down and talked our way through what our alternate is in our standard specifications and worked our way through honestly I think improving upon our standard specifications and you know one of my biggest issues is one the flow of water making sure that it’s not coming up on the road and then also alleviating that water and getting it back into the ground, preferably before it reaches all the retention ponds and down areas they have kind of designed into the plan hopefully alleviating the issue that you are concerned about,” said Nall. “If you’re asking me if it’s our standard, no it is not. But I do think it is an acceptable alternative to our standard.”
Deputy Mayor Sabrena Combs moved to divide the question on Resolution 21-015 into two separate items, which passed 6-1 with only Mayor Edna DeVries voting in opposition.
“If we are going to make the exception of not having sidewalks, there just needs to be adequate lighting because you have kids that are going to be walking in the street and its concerning. So I am not really, I am not in support of not having some form of street lights to light those areas that kids will be congregating,” said Combs.
The motion to approve the variance request for lighting failed 4-3. Council members Jill Valerius, Steve Carrington and Mayor DeVries voted in favor while Richard Best, Brian Daniels, Julie Berberich and Combs voted in opposition.
The variance request for curb and gutters passed 6-1 with only Berberich voting in opposition.