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Developers must now post signs at Rochester building sites

Neighbors of new developments will soon see signs posted on building sites ahead of public hearings, a change prompted by complaints from citizens who said they weren’t properly notified of projects.

Neighbors of new developments soon will see signs posted on building sites ahead of public hearings, a change prompted by complaints from citizens who said they weren't properly notified of projects.

Rochester's notification standards are stricter than state standards and most other cities, planning director Mitzi Baker said at Monday's Rochester City Council committee of the whole meeting.

The state requires neighbors within 350 feet of a property be notified of development or land use changes, but Rochester goes out to 500 feet and must notify 50 property owners, she said.

"We think we're over and above what a lot of communities do already," Baker said.

The postcards get sent out 10 days before a public hearing. The information is posted in the newspaper 10 days in advance and on the planning department's website , she said.


"There's a certain amount of time that we also need logistically to get all this stuff prepared and in the mail," Baker said. "I'd be surprised if most of this mail doesn't get to people at least a week in advance."

But Rochester, unlike many communities, did not have a requirement for posting signs. The city ordinance on notifications will be updated to include requirements for a generic sign directing neighbors to the city's website for additional information on dates and times of public hearings.

The signage rule will require the council to approve an addition to the city's ordinance relating to notifications, but all council members were supportive of the measure.

Developers will have to come to the planning department to pick up the signs and post them on their properties, Baker said.

The change comes about three months after citizens at a public hearing on Ashland Village , an affordable housing development, raised concerns about who received notifications and when.

The city will continue to send out postcards to property owners within 500 feet, though it will switch from white paper to colored paper and have a city logo on it to be more noticeable, based on the council's direction.

"Our goal is to notify them and make them aware, not to babysit them," council member Michael Wojcik said.

Different options for mailers, such as a larger postcard or a letter, would add costs, from an average of about $47 for the colored postcards to about $90 for a letter, Baker said.


Wojcik suggested the planning department also be sure residents are informed and not just property owners, so the department will send notifications to renters as well.

Some property owners have complained in the past that the postcards are too generic and blend in with other mail, but property owners have to be informed about what the notifications look like, too, council member Ed Hruska said.

"There's a sense of responsibility here that they need to be able to look at their mail and tell what's a junk mail and what affects them," Hruska said. "It's an ongoing education that we have to keep doing."

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