January 18, 2017
Dear St. Paul Planning Commission and City Council members,
Saint Paul STRONG (SPS) recently learned about the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) granted to the St. Paul Tennis Club (SPTC) by the Planning Commission for the SPTC building expansion plans. The process used by the City to grant a CUP to SPTC led to a neighbors' appeal to the City Council on December 7, 2016. Neighbors asked the City Council to deny the CUP and instead require SPTC to process a Nonconforming Use Permit for Expansion and Relocation (NUPER), which requires neighbor input on and approval of the building plan. While this story is detailed and complicated, SPS is primarily concerned about the following issues related to public process:
1. City staff disseminated inaccurate, incomplete and inconsistent information regarding the type of permit required for the SPTC expansion plans such as:
Determining that SPTC should apply for a CUP when a NUPER was clearly the appropriate permit for what was repeatedly identified by City staff as a “legal nonconforming use” property.
Erroneously Identifying SPTC as a noncommercial recreation facility to order to fit into a CUP application, while the City Staff report correctly identifies the SPTC land use under the commercial code “C-Health/Sports Club”. When neighbors pointed out this error as part of their appeal, rather than admit a mistake, City staff removed that code for land use from the next report.
City staff misrepresented the size of the SPTC expansion failing to acknowledge to the public that there would be a 66.6% increase in space and that the roof-top deck is a completely new addition, not a replacement. Those facts necessitate a NUPER to be processed.