344 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55102
  
   
www.344summit.mn.cx 
  

Proposed "Luxury Boutique Hotel" 

Parking

     


Summit Ave (north side; left to right)   --   361    353    345    339    335    329    323 (behind trees)
Summit Ave (south side; left to right)   --   370    366    364/362    360    344    340    332    324    318    312
Irvine Ave (north side; left to right)   --   372 (Summit)    365    (360 Summit)    339    333
     

COMMENTS (in blue font) by across-the-street neighbor, Eric Lein (361 Summit):

Parking -- "Stacked" parking in the existing driveway at 344 Summit does not comply with: 

Timeline -- 

  • ZONING CODE CITATION:  
    • 65.132 - lists conditions that reuse of large structures must satisfy 
    • 65.132(d) states - "Parking for the new use shall be provided in accordance with the requirements of Section 63.200 for new structures" 
    • 61.502 - authorizes the Planning Commission to modify any or all special conditions after making specified findings 
  • On 08/05/2014, the developer applied for a conditional use permit (CUP) for reuse of the large structure as a boutique hotel; developer also requested modification of 65.132(d) (the parking requirement); developer's application states: 

    • This hotel will be "one of the finest, if not the finest, projects of its kind in the state"
    • Regarding parking: 
      • "...the property has essentially no off-street outside parking other than stacked in the driveway and no useable indoor parking..."  
      • "on-street parking spaces along the street frontage of this wide lot will reasonably provide for the parking needs of the proposed use"
      • "there are no current feasible plans to reuse the former garage for parking"   
      • "adding off street parking would severely compromise the fabulous gardens [see garden photos, below]
      • "the driveway is the only location for onsite parking given site constraints"  
      • "Therefore, modification of this parking requirement [65.132(d)] is requested..." 
  • On 09/05/2014, the Planning Commission approved a CUP to create a ten-unit Luxury Boutique Hotel at 344 Summit Avenue;  Resolution #14-316-432 (approving the CUP) includes the following findings & conditions that relate to 65.132(d), the parking requirement: 

    • Section 4(d) - Parking for the new use shall be provided in accordance with the requirements of section 63.200 for new structures.  "... It appears that three to four parking spaces could be reasonably accommodated in the area of the existing garage at the rear of the house if the garage were substantially restructured or removed, and that this condition can be met subject to the condition that such parking is provided.  This is contingent on application to and approval by the Heritage Preservation Commission." 
    • Section 6 - Modification of special conditions:  "... It appears that three to four parking spaces could be reasonably accommodated in the area of the existing garage at the rear of the house if the garage were substantially restructured or removed.  Therefore, strict application of the special conditions related to required off-street parking would not limit or prevent otherwise lawful use of the property or the existing structure.  Providing the required off-street parking of three spaces would not result in exceptional undue hardship.  Modification of the off-street parking requirement would impair the intent and purpose of the special condition.  The standards for modification of the special condition for off-street parking are not met."
    • NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, "... that the application of John Rupp for a modification of condition 65.132(d), the parking requirement, is hereby denied; AND"
    • BE IT ALSO RESOLVED, "... that the application of John Rupp for a conditional use permit...is hereby approved, subject to the following conditions
      1) A minimum of three off-street parking spaces must be provided on the property, subject to approval by the Heritage Preservation Commission..."
  • On 09/15/2014, the Summit Avenue Residential Preservation Association (SARPA), standing firm in its belief that the decision of the Planning Commission was in error, filed an appeal disputing the approval of the CUP. 

  • On 10/15/2014, in response to SARPA's appeal, the City Council held a public hearing followed by a vote. 

    • Council minutes 
    • During public testimony:
      • The developer spoke in favor of his proposal and began, once again, to describe the many benefits of his boutique hotel; 
      • Councilmember Thune interrupted the developer and suggested that his time would be better spent identifying errors, if any, made by the Planning Commission; 
      • The developer chose not to dispute any of the Planning Commission's findings & conditions
      • Instead, he quickly stopped talking and sat down. 
    • Following public testimony, the City Council voted to uphold the CUP and Resolution #14-316-432
      • Five Council members agreed with the developer, disagreed with SARPA, and found no errors by the Planning Commission;
      • Two Council members dissented (Lantry and Bostrom).  
  • On 11/14/2014, developer submitted a site plan to the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC).  The site plan shows "stacked" parking on the existing driveway that flies in the face of and contradicts: 

    • Findings & conditions in the CUP, undisputed by developer on 10/15/2014, that state: 
      • "Parking for the new use shall be provided in accordance with the requirements of section 63.200 for new structures." 
      • "It appears that three to four parking spaces could be reasonably accommodated in the area of the existing garage at the rear of the house if the garage were substantially restructured or removed, and that this condition can be met subject to the condition that such parking is provided."   
        (i.e.  "such parking"  =  spaces in the area of the existing garage)
      • "... strict application of the special conditions related to required off-street parking would not limit or prevent otherwise lawful use of the property or the existing structure." 
      • " Providing the required off-street parking of three spaces would not result in exceptional undue hardship." 
    • City ordinance 63.312 (Setback) that disallows parking spaces in the required easterly side yard at 344 Summit. 
  • On 12/10/2014, the City Council voted to memorialize the boutique hotel's CUP Resolution #14-316-432 (RES 14-2030). 

  • SARPA's, the neighbors' and the developer's opportunity, via appeals to the City, to dispute findings and conditions related to off-street parking came, and went, during the public hearing on 10/15/2014.  The majority of City Council members agreed with the developer that there were no errors in the Planning Commission's findings and conditions.  Therefore, developer should not now be allowed to "cherry pick" favorable findings & conditions while ignoring those that displease him.  Instead, along with SARPA and the neighbors, the developer should be required to live with and adhere to all CUP findings & conditions. 

Off-street parking can be reasonably accommodated at the rear of the house --  

  • Since 2006, owners of three adjacent and almost-adjacent residential hillside parcels added off-street parking garages in their rear yards.
  • The residentially-zoned parcel at 344 Summit includes a wide and deep rear yard with enough space to add more than three off-street parking spaces that would not be visible from Summit Avenue.    [See aerial photos below.] 
  • Long ago, today's overall site had two houses and two sets of gardens, not just one.  Later, one house was removed and Watson Davidson planted vegetable gardens on his large hillside.  This is a 150-ft wide x 330-ft deep double lot with space at the rear for lovely gardens and the required three off-street parking spaces. 
  • Large retaining walls, unusual structures, plus above-average construction costs would be required, are common on this Summit Avenue hillside, and should have been expected (see 1916 Plat Map).  
  • Experienced owners and developers of hillside property anticipate those costs and adjust their purchase prices accordingly (see Paradise Valley, AZ).  
  • The photos below show quite clearly that the original builders in our historic Summit Avenue neighborhood did not pinch many pennies. 

Parking in required side yards is not allowed in St. Paul.  A minimum nine-foot setback from side lot lines is required in this RT2 zoning district.  See site plan below.  See: 

63.312 (Setback.)     Except as otherwise provided in section 66.442(a) or section 66.431(b) off-street parking spaces shall not be within a required front or side yard and shall be a minimum of four (4) feet from any lot line.

66.231 (Residential District Dimensional Standards.)     Zoning District - RT2.  Side Yard Setback Minimum - 9 feet.  Note (h): For permitted and conditional principal uses allowed in residential districts other than residential uses, the front yard shall be equal to the front yard required for residential use and the side and rear yards shall be equal to one-half the height of the building but in no instance less than the minimum requirements of the district in which said use is located.

If the requirement for additional off-street parking is waived and on-street spaces close to the hotel are occupied, beware of legal double parking on busy Summit Avenue by large and small commercial vehicles.  See photos below.  See: 

Sec. 157.09. Double parking.     Vehicles shall not stand two (2) or more abreast in any street except as follows:  Commercial vehicles, when clearly so designated, and when calling for or delivering merchandise may double park at the place of delivery when access to the curb immediately adjacent to the place of delivery is occupied, including on streets where parking meters are in operation, but shall leave such space promptly upon completion of that operation and shall not park for more than thirty (30) minutes at any one time.  If requested the commercial driver shall allow any blocked vehicle to move.  A clearly designated vehicle shall meet the requirements of section 151.02 or 158.01.

Guests at a Summit Avenue Luxury Boutique Hotel who pay top dollar, enjoy fine surroundings and stroll in extensive and fabulous gardens should not do so at the expense of nearby neighbors who have been told to endure commercial traffic and compete for on-street parking.  

Bottom line?  Provide the parking. 
    

 
HPC Design Review Application
Public Hearing - 11/20/2014
Staff report 
Site plans 

The site plan submitted 11/14/2014 shows
"stacked" parking in the east side driveway.

 
Developer's proposed parking:
does not comply with zoning codes
for new structures;  and
does not comply with the Planning
Commission's conditions as
specified in "Section 4(d)"

 
11/18/2014 -- Letter to HPC, opposing: 
(1) Exterior alterations; and        
(2) "Stacked" parking in driveway

On 08/05/2014, developer's proposal (as submitted to the City) claims: 

Sec 65.132(d) - Parking for the new use shall be provided in accordance with the requirements of Section 63.200 for new structures.  "...the property has essentially no off-street outside parking other than stacked in the driveway and no useable indoor parking..."   "There are no current feasible plans to reuse the former garage for parking."   "The driveway is the only location for onsite parking given site constraints."   "Therefore, modification of this parking requirement is requested...


On 09/05/2014, the Saint Paul Planning Commission denied developer's application for a modification of condition 65.132(d), the parking requirement.  The Planning Commission's Resolution #14-316-432 includes the following findings:

Section 4(d) - Parking for the new use shall be provided in accordance with the requirements of section 63.200 for new structures.  "...  It appears that three to four parking spaces could be reasonably accommodated in the area of the existing garage at the rear of the house if the garage were substantially restructured or removed, and that this condition can be met subject to the condition that such parking is provided.  This is contingent on application to and approval by the Heritage Preservation Commission.

Section 6 - Modification of special conditions:  "... It appears that three to four parking spaces could be reasonably accommodated in the area of the existing garage at the rear of the house if the garage were substantially restructured or removed.  Therefore, strict application of the special conditions related to required off-street parking would not limit or prevent otherwise lawful use of the property or the existing structure.  Providing the required off-street parking of three spaces would not result in exceptional undue hardship.  Modification of the off-street parking requirement would impair the intent and purpose of the special condition.  The standards for modification of the special condition for off-street parking are not met."


In response to an appeal by SARPA, on 10/15/2014 the City Council held a public hearing at which interested parties were given the opportunity to testify as to whether or not, on 09/05/2014, the Planning Commission had made errors in its findings.     [Council minutes] 

Hilary Holmes, City Planner, gave a staff report.  She reviewed the history of the building, the pertinent zoning code sections, and the findings of the Planning Commission.  Council President Lantry clarified with Ms. Holmes that the business still could not move forward until the parking condition had been met. 

Those in favor of the appeal testified first.  SARPA's attorney argued that the Commission had made errors.  Council members listened.

Those opposed to the appeal testified next.  Developer John Rupp started to talk about the benefits of his hotel.  Councilmember Thune asked Mr. Rupp to focus his testimony on the disputed findings in the Planning Commission's decision.  Mr. Rupp said all of the conditions were carefully evaluated in the Planning Commission's findings, and the neighbors within 100 feet were unanimous in support.  He asked that the Council uphold the decision of most of the Planning staff.  

Councilmembers discussed the issues and on 10/15/2014 voted 5-2 to deny SARPA's appeal.  On 12/10/2014 the Council approved a resolution memorializing the decision to deny the appeal of SARPA of a decision of the Planning Commission approving a conditional use permit to reuse a large structure for hotel purposes at 344 Summit Avenue.


On 11/20/2014, the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) held a public hearing regarding the developer's application for permits to widen and add sidewalks, alter the grade, alter the front porch, and enclose a basement window.  [File #15-012] 

HPC staff gave a report.  Written and verbal testimony was received.  Based on the findings and recommendations in the staff report, the HPC voted: 

  • to lay over the Public Hearing in order for the applicant to supply for further review and consideration, a written evaluation by a preservation architect showing that all possible accessible routes into the first level of the house have been fully explored...

  • that work shall not commence on the interior until an appropriate exterior solution is approved by the HPC, because an appropriate solution for exterior access may require interior modifications to the current plans...

  • that upon receipt of the written evaluation..., HPC staff will schedule the review on the HPC meeting agenda following applicable deadlines for materials. 


Also see:

Guidelines for Design Review
St. Paul, MN -- H.P.C.
Pg 36

Sec. 63.312. Setback


2006 - BEFORE & during construction of new parking at:
340 Summit       324 Summit       318 Summit


2013 - AFTER construction of new parking at:
340 Summit        324 Summit        318 Summit

       


2006 - BEFORE & during construction of new parking at:
340 Summit       324 Summit       318 Summit


2013 - AFTER construction of new parking at:
340 Summit        324 Summit        318 Summit

   

Zoning Code Section 61.501.  Conditional use permit, general standards.

(b) The use will provide adequate ingress and egress to minimize traffic congestion in the public street.  

Developer proposes  almost zero ingress/egress  for cars, limousines, taxis, trucks or busses. (See Site Plan)
  • Despite rules, delivery truck drivers tend to park in any open space (in front, down the block, across the street, in no-parking zones, blocking driveways, blocking traffic, blocking sidewalks, etc). 
  • When the proposed hotel's driveway is full (or deemed inconvenient by a vehicle's driver), and when there is inadequate space at the curb:
    • Busses, taxis and limousines will block traffic while riders climb out/in 
    • Busses and limousines waiting for passengers will park close by with engines idling 
    • Beware of legal double parking on busy Summit Avenue 


INADEQUATE INGRESS/EGRESS  =>  ILLEGAL PARKING
Both the delivery truck & van are parked.  Both are blocking the public sidewalk.
At developer's Club - this happens frequently.    Next stop - the Luxury Hotel?

    


Musical dumpsters at 344 Summit -- Legal
Imagine a delivery truck, double parked -- Legal


Liquor delivery to the University Club -- Liquor, ok;  Parking, not ok
Posted no-parking zone;  blocking bicycle lane;
partially blocking traffic lane;  close to fire hydrant; 
blocking view of drivers trying to enter Summit from Arundel St.


Inadequate Ingress/Egress  =>  Illegal Parking
"No Parking Between Driveways"

       


Summit Ave (south side; left to right)   --   366    364/362    360    344    340
Note five [not six] useable on-street parking spaces in front of 344


2013 - 344 Summit Rear Yard
  (Note new parking at 340 Summit)
  

     

Zoning Code Section 65.132.  Reuse of Large Structures.
Standards and Conditions in Residential Districts: 

(a) The planning commission shall find that the structure cannot reasonably be used for a conforming use.  

  • Developer's 06/25/2014 supporting information states, in part:  "... Adding off-street parking would severely compromise the fabulous gardens." 

(d) Parking for the new use shall be provided in accordance with the requirements of Section 63.200 for new structures.

  • Developer's 06/25/2014 supporting information states, in part:  "...because of the steep hill immediately behind the house there is no feasible place to add parking there... Locating parking on the lawn to the west of the house - visible from Summit Avenue - is not feasible because it would destroy the gardens and severely compromise the overall site.  Therefore, modification of this parking requirement is requested..."  [NOTE - the "fabulous gardens" are not and were not in the westerly side yard.  Instead, in 1949 they were located down the hill in the rear yard, far away from the side yard, driveway and existing garage.  See photos.] 

Watson Davidson 
in his
Hillside Gardens
(1949) 

         

   

   


2013 - AFTER construction of new parking at:
340 Summit        (324 Summit)


2013 - AFTER construction of new parking at:
324 Summit        318 Summit