April 26, 2021

Wayzata Will Not Adopt a Development Moratorium

The Wayzata City Council could not agree on either a 3 month or 6 month development moratorium at a regular council meeting held April 20th and as a result will take no action to slow development in the Mixed Use Residential/Commercial and Central Business Districts.

The agenda item had been added to the Council's new business after the Planning Commission requested the moratorium from the Council in a joint workshop on April 5th.

The Planning Commission had shared the following concerns with the Council: (verbatim)

  1. The 2040 Comprehensive Plan notes that up 30 units per acre may be considered in the Mixed Use
    Commercial/Residential and Central Business District parcels, but the corresponding Zoning
    regulations are not yet updated to reflect when, why, and how this density would be permitted.
  2. The updates to the Design Standards will be reviewed in public meetings in April, May, and possibly
    June; however, project proposals may be submitted before the updates are adopted.
  3. Questions arose on how the community’s vision for more housing choices at varying levels of
    affordability can be incorporated into regulations and policies that guide development on Lake Street and Wayzata Boulevard.

Based on the request and the feedback at the joint workshop, Wayzata City Staff had drafted two ordinances for discussion including an emergency 3 month moratorium to allow completion of design guidelines and a 6 month moratorium to address inconsistencies between the current zoning ordinance and the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

Two additional actions for Council consideration included No Development Moratorium and a 12 month moratorium to study the housing density adopted in 2040 Comprehensive Plan and then update the Zoning Code.

As part of the discussion, Council-member Alex Plechash stated "I would support a two to three month short pause, for the design standards but I would not support any of the other options."

Council-member Jeff Buchanan also supported a short term moratorium, "I haven't changed my opinion from the workshop, I believe it makes sense to have a moratorium to let our design standards catch up with the applications that we have. I think the others are a little vague and they could be forever."

Council-member Cathy Iverson weighed in supporting a 6 month moratorium, "I am concerned about the 2040 Comp Plan and the density that is in there." Iverson continued, "Option three would really give us an opportunity to review... density by acre and density by zone. People have a lot of construction fatigue."

According to City Attorney David Schelzel, the three month moratorium as drafted by City Staff was an emergency ordinance identified to protect the general welfare of the City and required 4 votes both for a pre-amble declaring the emergency and 4 votes supporting the emergency ordinance.

A motion to adopt the first reading of the 6 month ordinance garnered only two votes from Mayor Johanna Mouton and Cathy Iverson, failing to gain the simple majority required for a standard ordinance.

A second motion to adopt an emergency 3 month moratorium also failed to garner the needed 4 votes both for the pre-amble declaring the emergency and the emergency ordinance with and Council-members Molly McDonald, Jeff Buchanan, and Alex Plechash supporting the motion.

Stay tuned to Wayzata.com for more on this developing story including the forthcoming Design Standards currently in front of the Planning Commission.

April 11, 2021

Revenue shortage affects Wayzata Schools

The impact of COVID-19 on education continues to grow.

While schools across the country spent the last year wrestling with how to keep students learning and teachers working, they are again seeing what the financial effects of the pandemic are. This time it is in state funding.

The Wayzata School District’s Business and Finance Department is estimating a revenue shortage of about $9.2 million. The shortage stems, in large part, from lower enrollment numbers.

The district was expecting 12,536 students to be enrolled in during the 2020-21 fiscal year. Instead, 11,962 students were enrolled on the first day of school, about 570 less than projected.

For each of the 570 students that wasn’t enrolled on day one, the district missed out on about $8,000 in state aid and another $2,000 in property tax levy dollars. This adds up to $5.7 million of the projected shortage.

“We had over 200 families who chose not to send their kindergartners to school. We’re not sure if they’re coming back next fall or not,” said Jim Westrum, executive director of business and finance for the district. “Another 300 students we were projecting chose another option as well.”

For much of the school year the district has operated under a hybrid model. Students attended school in-person only two days a week and learned online the remaining three days. This was done to meet guidance from the state health department. This change is attributed to some parents switching to private schools.

Wayzata is not alone in experiencing a drop in enrollment to this degree. Statewide there about a 2-percent decrease in public school enrollment, which amounts to about 17,000 students. Elementary-aged students account for the largest share of the decrease. Kindergarten enrollment, which is not required, dropped by 9 percent alone since the 2019-20 school year.

In March 2020, Gov. Tim Walz signed an emergency executive order requiring public schools to provide free child care and transportation to families of essential workers. Since this requirement was established, the Wayzata School District has spent an estimated $4 million meeting the requirement. This is also figured in as a large factor contributing to the revenue shortage.

The revenue shortage does not put the district’s regular expenses like payroll in jeopardy, according to Westrum, but it did greatly deplete its fund balance.

“By not receiving those resources and reimbursement for those resources, it will negatively impact our financial position,” he said. “We typically like to have four to six weeks worth of cash in the bank to allow us to respond to uncertainties that occur and other cash flow purposes. Now we just need to rebuild our reserves.”

The situation is not without hope though. Wayzata’s population is expected to continue growing which may allow for making up the enrollment numbers. 

Meanwhile state and federal relief could lessen the blow. The district received about $3 million in Coronavirus relief from the federal government last March. These funds are being put toward covering district expenses such as sanitation materials, personal protective equipment, transportation and additional nurse staff. Westrum said the district spent in excess of $3 million on these items.

The district also enacted a hiring freeze and had cost savings from its utilities. 

Westrum said the district expected to receive about $5 million from the latest COVID-19 relief package which passed last month but the number fell closer to $2.5 million.

After the district receives its guidance on how it can spend its share of the latest relief package, its eyes will turn to the governor’s office to see what aid may be waiting in the Gov. Walz’s budget plan. 

The district is urging local legislators to find a viable remedy to address the financial impact of declining enrollment and reimbursement of the costs incurred after Gov. Walz’s executive order.

 

April 11, 2021

Wayzata Boys Basketball are State Champs!

The Wayzata Trojans basketball team defeated Cretin-Durham Hall 75-61 to win the Class 4A State Championship on Saturday night at Target Center.



The Trojans used teamwork, tenacious defense and a balanced scoring attack to beat the Raiders and secure the title.

The only time the game seemed to be really in question was midway through the second half as Raider Marselio Mendez scored two points from the free throw line making it Wayzata 44, Cretin 39 after a quick steal and foul.

Wayzata answered the call by breaking the Raider full court press with excellent ball movement and a pass from Trey Lance to a streaking Cam Heide who scored an easy layup for the Trojans.

Moments later a travel by the Raiders and another press break pass from Kody Williams to a wide open Drew Berkland for a three pointer from the corner put Wayzata up 49-39 with 10:22 remaining. The Trojans would never look back winning handily 75-61.

Defensively the Trojans used a team effort to wear out Raider point guard Tre Holloman, including Eddie Beeninga, Williams, Lance, and Berkland.

Berkland led all scorers with 19 points, going 5 of 7 on three point attempts; many of which were from the corner. Drew credited his accurate shot to work over the years with his family, coaches and team mates, “That’s a lot of work in the gym with my dad and coaches over time... I’ve been playing with those guys, most of them since 4th grade. To see it all come together like that in a State Championship is pretty cool.”

Nationally recruited prospect Heide scored 17 points and pulled in 10 rebounds. many were slicing drives with the ball placed high off the glass and in to the bucket. “We just felt like we could make shots... they sagged off a bit and those are the best times to attack, so I was just like, let’s go, let’s do it,” stated Heide.

Eddie Beeninga scored 16 points including a critical 3 pointer that banked off the glass and into the bucket. He described the defensive effort, “We had a lot of pressure on them, we wanted to be in the gaps a lot and we did a really great job.”

Kody Williams scored 11 using his quickness and speed to score layups over bigger and taller defenders. After the game he detailed his efforts, “Hours of practice, hours of playing against our team mates including Camden Heide and Carter Bjerke, you just have to be crafty around the rim.”

Big man Carter Bjerke had 7 and was dominant inside, and Ryan Harvey finished with 5 points as well. (Continued on reverse) The Championship was the exclamation point on a season markedly different from the one a year ago where the Trojans finished 11-17.

Back in the gym at Wayzata High School after a net cutting ceremony Head Coach Bryan Schnettler talked about what went right this season, “The kids grew up so much from last year. They learned to care about each other and it was really fun to see.”

The Wayzata Trojans Athletic Department and the MSHSL provided images for this report.

April 6, 2021

City discusses pressing pause on development

Construction is in full swing for the season but residents may be looking for a break from the clatter and congestion.

The fast-moving development on Wayzata Boulevard and Lake Street have left the Planning Commission with questions about the direction the community is going. The commission met virtually with the Wayzata City Council Monday for a workshop to discuss enacting a moratorium on development until some clarity can be found.

The commission brought forth “observations and questions” which it summarized in three key points, which are:

  • The 2040 Comprehensive Plan notes that up 30 units per acre may be considered in the Mixed Use Commercial/Residential and Central Business District parcels, but the corresponding Zoning regulations are not yet updated to reflect when, why, and how this density would be permitted.
  • The updates to the Design Standards will be reviewed in public meetings in April, May, and possibly June; however, project proposals may be submitted before the updates are adopted.
  • Questions on how the community’s vision for more housing choices at varying levels of affordability can be incorporated into regulations and policies that guide development on Lake Street and Wayzata Boulevard.

“This is in no way a consensus vote nor are we opposed to development,” said Chris Plantan, commission chair. “Rather it’s a time to consider or clarify our current and future development. We’re looking for a balance that satisfies residents and developers while maintaining our proposed values.”

A moratorium would not stop construction that is already underway. They are often used to allow a city to amend current policy or conduct a study which helps plan future actions. 

Mayor Johanna Mouton noted a moratorium would be established for a specific amount of time with a planned set of actions to take place during that time. City attorney David Schelzel added while a set time limit would be set when starting the moratorium — six months for example — the council could take action to extend it or end it early if it wanted to.

Councilman Jeff Buchanan questioned whether the observations and questions posed by the commission should be grouped together.

“These three bullet points are quite diverse in scope and the amount of time required,” he said. “The 2040 Comprehensive Plan, amending that would take a considerable amount of time. The design standards updates are imminent probably in the next 60 days. I’m a little confused how a moratorium might affect each of those.”

Commission member Lindsay Bashioum said the commission is simply unclear on if the housing density and the design standards in place for the districts in question align with the city’s vision for the future.

“We were having difficulty as a commission weighing the pros and cons with each project based on the comprehensive plan and the desire for the council to increase density,” she said. “We’re struggling to find a happy medium and still be able to hold true to what our charge is. That’s really what is driving us to thinking a pause in new projects would help us figure out all the details of these two districts in particular.”

Councilwoman Cathy Iverson said she doesn't want to see 30 units per acre in either district. She also wants more clarification on what affordable housing is because the term is broad.

Buchanan and councilman Alex Plechash spoke against a moratorium for anything beyond the design standards issue because of timeliness. They are also skeptical that a moratorium would positively affect the other two issues.

“The 2040 Comprehensive Plan wasn’t done in a smoke-filled room,” Buchanan said. “That was a several year process with an incredible amount of citizen input.”

Plechash added that any pause in development would only lead to an increase in activity once the moratorium is lifted.

“The comprehensive plan is set,” he said. “The density standards, I object to that but they’re there.”

Iverson countered by questioning why the council can’t make changes.

“Density is a concern for residents of Wayzata. When I hear the comprehensive plan is what it is and we can’t go after it, why?” she said. “We should have the ability to control what goes into our city. We have the right to step back and say maybe we need to look back at our 2040 plan. Maybe what we set out isn’t what the city wants. If it’s truly a concern for our city we fight for it.”

The workshop concluded with the council asking for a menu of options to be presented during a regular council meeting. One of the options could be to do nothing and move forward as planned, according to Schelzel. The soonest this would be brought to council would be the April 20 meeting. 

Wayzata Design Standards

Following the workshop, the Planning Commission held a regular meeting. Architecture firm Van Meter Williams Pollack presented its first draft of revisions to the Wayzata Design Standards. As part of the development of this first draft, the firm conducted a visual preference survey which 380 people responded to.

VMWP project manager Andrew Faulkner said respondents likely felt more strongly about their opinions than the average Wayzata resident, due to the voluntary nature of the survey.

According to the results, respondents tended to prefer a more charming, quaint, active and relaxing design for the Lake Street and Bluff districts. For the Wayzata Boulevard District they were open to a commercial look, but would like the area to be active, vibrant and walkable.

Faulkner noted “charm” is a broad term that could mean different things to different people.

“We’re pretty confident the perception of charm is tied to building bulk,” he said.

Faulkner added what made Wayzata charming historically smaller-scale buildings. As land values rose the size of buildings also grew, especially horizontally. This has led to some of the concern around development as respondents feared Wayzata could lose some of its charm.

“We’re afraid the existing design standards have only exacerbated these challenges,” Faulkner said.

One of the changes VMWP is proposing is implementing massing breaks which add space between buildings and improve walkability on Wayzata Boulevard. They are also recommending upper floor stepbacks to reduce the perceived height of buildings, and building recesses to open more outdoor dining and seating.

A public hearing was opened during the meeting and will remain open through the April 19 meeting to allow for public comments. After the public hearing closes, staff will be directed to prepare a report and recommendations for the City Council.

April 6, 2021

Wayzata’s Cael Swensen, Osseo’s Jacob Meissner Win State Wrestling Titles

Wayzata’s Cael Swensen won his second state wrestling title, capturing the class AAA 152-pound championship Thursday. Jacob Meissner of Osseo won his first title, claiming the 220-pound title. They highlighted a strong showing from wrestlers from the northwest suburbs at the class AAA individual tournament at St. Michael-Albertville High School.

 

April 6, 2021

Wayzata Boys Hockey Falls to Lakeville South in Semifinals

The Wayzata boys hockey team took a 2-0 lead but couldn’t hold on in a 5-3 loss to Lakeville South in the state class AA semifinals. The Trojans scored 25 seconds into the game and added a goal late in the second to take that 2-0 lead. The Cougars scored four times in the third on the way to the win. Wayzata finished the season with a 14-6-2 record.

April 4, 2021

Planning Commission to hold public hearing on Design Standards

(verbatim) The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing to consider a Zoning Ordinance Amendment that incorporates updates to the Chapter 909 of the Wayzata City Code - Design Standards. 

Monday, April 5, 2021 at 6:30 pm. 

The standards apply to new commercial and multi-family construction. The Wayzata Zoning Study Task Force, composed of Wayzata community members, reviewed the current Design Standards with architectural consultant Van Meter Williams Pollack (VMWP). A visual preference survey was conducted to gather community input. The City encourages and welcomes any public comments on the proposed Design Standards as the Zoning Ordinance Amendment is reviewed by the Planning Commission and City Council.

You can also view the Wayzata Design Standards Update here.

April 2, 2021

Development Moratorium?

The Wayzata City Council will meet in a joint workshop with the Wayzata Planning Commission on April 5th at 5pm to discuss a development moratorium in the Mixed Use Residential/Commercial and Central Business Districts.

The request comes on the heels of a March 15th special workshop by the Wayzata Planning Commission in which 6 of the 7 members “noted their questions and observations about the City’s management of thoughtful development both immediately and farther into the future,” according to a workshop agenda published on the City’s web site on April 1st.

The questions and observations for discussion at the special joint workshop will include: (verbatim):

  • The 2040 Comprehensive Plan notes that up to 30 units per acre may be considered in the Mixed Use Commercial/Residential and Central Business District parcels, but the corresponding Zoning regulations are not yet updated to reflect when, why, and how this density would be permitted.
  • The updates to the Design Standards will  be reviewed in public meetings in April, May, and possibly June; however, project proposals may be submitted before the updates are adopted.
  • Questions on how the community’s vision for more housing choices at varying levels of affordability can be incorporated into regulations and policies that guide development on Lake Street and Wayzata Boulevard

Moratoriums like this can typically last from 6 to 12 months, and that could be considered by the City here.

When asked about the Moratorium, City Manager Jeff Dahl indicated, “Since any moratorium could have significant implications, we thought it would be best to discuss all perspectives, the pros and cons, etc. in an informal format. If there is any kind of consensus, it will be presented in a more complete form at a regular meeting.”

Stay tuned to Wayzata.com for more on this developing story.

April 2, 2021

Flannigan Resigns from Planning Commission

Cites Direction of Planning Commission

Planning Commissioner Greg Flannigan submitted a letter of resignation on March 25th to the City of Wayzata.

Flannigan was appointed to the Planning Commission in 2016, and “during his tenure, he served as Vice Chair of the Commission in 2018 and Chair in 2019. Under his leadership, the City Council adopted the 2040 Comprehensive Plan. He devoted countless hours to the review of development applications during his years of service on the Commission and for that the City is extremely grateful,” according to the City Council Agenda for April 6th.

Flannigan’s letter noted his reasons for resignation, “I have enjoyed my time learning about the city and meeting the very talented people that run the City of Wayzata and its residents. Ultimately I feel the Commission has moved in a direction that I am not comfortable and I no longer feel connected to the Commission. With this lack of connection it is difficult for me to remain engaged with the important work that is required of a Commissioner.”

City Staff will move to fill the vacancy as soon as possible, and the appointment of a new Commissioner will require Council approval.

Image courtesy Lurie, LLP.

April 1, 2021

Wayzata Boys Hockey Ready for State

The Wayzata boys hockey team's preparation for the state class AA tournament included plenty of uncertainty. The Trojans found out late Tuesday that they would not have a quarterfinal game Wednesday morning as scheduled. Their opponent, Hill-Murray, had to forfeit because of possible COVID-19 exposure in their section final game. So Wayzata receives a forfeit and will play in the semifinals Friday.