Design Guidelines to Preserve and Enhance Scandia Community Character

Scandia Store (aka "the Mercantile") circa 1910-1915
Scandia Store (aka "the Mercantile") circa 1910-1915

Scandia's unique history shapes future vision--

A Design Standards Committee recently explored how the vision of Scandia’s new Comprehensive Plan could be carried out by ensuring that new commercial buildings reflect the historic character of Scandia. The committee, led by Planning Commissioner Susan Rodsjo, has recommended a set of design guidelines that will be formally adopted when the city revises its development codes in the coming year. 

The purpose of the proposed design guidelines is to sustain and improve the economic viability of the city by preserving and enhancing historic charm and allowing for compatible new development. The city’s desire is to increase the economic and financial benefits to local businesses by enhancing community character, thus drawing new and repeat visitors to Scandia.

Scandia was the home of Minnesota’s first Swedish settlers, dating back to the mid-1800s. As the settlers and their descendents prospered and Scandia grew, businesses emerged to serve residents. Although the overall number of historic buildings in Scandia is small compared with nearby cities such as Stillwater and Osceola, the Scandia Village Center and nearby rural commercial nodes (such as Copas and the Big Marine Lake Store) are endowed with a variety of unique architecture influenced by

the area’s immigrant settlers. The buildings live on today with new owners making creative use of the space.

The design guidelines include an overview of the historic building styles present in Scandia today, and explain how the design of new or remodeled buildings should echo their architectural themes. The report uses photographs to illustrate a menu of design choices. The guidelines call out some design elements that will be prohibited, such as “trademark architecture,” buildings that are identified with a particular chain restaurant or store and are built the same no matter the location.

The document provides guidance on general building design including roof lines, building materials, height, colors, setbacks, parking, and how renovations should be carried out. Re-use of existing buildings, rather than tearing down buildings, will be encouraged. It also shows how design details (such as windows, doors, awnings, signage and lighting) contribute and offers suggestions and options for designers. 

The guidelines are not intended to curtail creative design; instead, they are intended to educate builders on historic architecture in Scandia and inspire creative design that reflects the historic character of the community. The idea is not for new construction to look identical to historic buildings, but rather to look new and unique while drawing upon historic

The historic patterns of windows & doors are details that can be repeated in new buildings.
The historic patterns of windows & doors are details that can be repeated in new buildings.
design elements.

The design guidelines will be applied to new commercial, office, institutional, and multi-family residential construction and renovation projects in Scandia. The guidelines will generally not apply to industrial uses unless they are adjacent to historic structures or front and/or are highly visible from arterial or collector roadways. Although some guidelines may not be applied to industrial structures, quality architecture will be encouraged, and landscape guidelines will be applied to help screen less desirable aspects of sites, such as parking lots.

Design review will take place concurrently with review of any other planning, zoning, or building permit applications required by the city. Individuals, developers, and/or architects will be encouraged to request an informal meeting with the City before beginning formal design work on their projects.

In addition to Rodsjo (who authored the guidelines) the following Scandia residents and business owners participated in the Committee: Connie Amos, Peter Curtis, Margie Dreher, Sue Fitzgerald, Dave Hume, Jim “Moose” Malmquist, Dan Sandager, Wayne Schmitt and Scott Westphal.

In November 2015, the City Council updated the Architectural Design Guidelines document to reflect the changes made by Ordinance No. 165, amendments to the Sign Ordinance. The document may be downloaded below.

 2010 City Budget Drafted

At its September 1 meeting, the City Council took the first steps in the process of adopting the budget and tax levy for 2010. The Council set a maximum, "not to exceed" tax levy at $1,928,647. 

Scandia must comply with a state limit that holds the base levy to a maximum inflationary increase of 0.08337% for most spending. The total levy, which includes special levies for debt service and police and fire personnel costs, would increase by up to 3.64% compared to the 2009 tax levy of $1,860,893. The net increase to Scandia taxpayers, after fiscal disparities (a regional tax base-sharing program) is considered, would be up to 2.36%.

Even though the levy will increase, the City tax rate is estimated to go down by approximately 0.9% for taxes payable in 2010. Since the city’s median change in property market value from 2009 to 2010 was unchanged, the property tax bill for 2010 would go down by about the same percentage or more, for most homeowners.
When the governor “unalloted” payments to cities for local aids in 2008 & 2009, Scandia lost $98,249, most from reimbursements to pay for the state’s Market Value Homestead Credit program. In 2010 the city is expected to pay the full cost of the program, estimated at $76,146, from its local levy. 


2010 operating budget will be affected by expenses for preparing an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement), the costs for which will not be paid by taxpayers but by the project proposer. If the cost of the EIS were not included, the city’s draft operating budget for 2010 would actually be 1.99% less than the 2009 operating budget. 

No new major initiatives are proposed for 2010. There will be no new road paving projects, but the road repair budget would focus on maintaining existing roads, as laid out in the 2008 Pavement Management Plan. Replacement of Fire Rescue Truck #5179 is planned. The estimated $220,000 cost will be paid from the Equipment Replacement Fund and borrowing which will require a tax levy in 2011. The city would increase its reserves for future equipment replacements, as another fire truck and a snow plow/ dump truck will come up for replacement in 2012.
In November, each property owner will receive a “Truth in Taxation” notice with their estimated 2010 property tax bill from each of the property taxing jurisdictions. Scandia will hold a public meeting on its 2010 budget and tax levy on Tuesday, December 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Center. The budget and tax levy will be finalized after the adoption hearing scheduled for Tuesday, December 15, 2009.

 EIS for Proposed Sand and Gravel Mine is Underway

Work has started on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Zavoral Mine and Reclamation Project.  The proposed project includes operation of a gravel mine and processing operation on a 114-acre, un-reclaimed former gravel mine site located along St. Croix Trail North (State TH 95) near its intersection with Scandia Trail (State TH 97.) 

The EIS was ordered after the Council found that the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) did not provide sufficient information to determine the potential for significant environmental effects. Tiller’s application for a CUP (Conditional Use Permit) to mine the property is on hold until the EIS is completed. The EIS is expected to take approximately one year.

In August the City Council approved a $315,000 contract with AECOM, an environmental consulting firm, to complete the EIS.  The proposer (Tiller Corporation) must pay all costs.

Environmental concerns to be addressed in the EIS include:  potential impacts to surface waters; groundwater; noise; dust; traffic volume & safety; visual impacts to people on the St. Croix, roads & surrounding properties; impacts of proposed processing activities; economic impacts; and, the adequacy of the reclamation plan. 

The Scoping Decision identified four project alternatives to be evaluated in the EIS. (1) The Build Alternative will evaluate Tiller’s proposed aggregate mining, processing and reclamation activities. (2) The No-Build Alternative will evaluate impacts of the existing land uses. (3) Alternative #3 will evaluate proposed gravel washing, particularly potential impacts to groundwater and groundwater-dependent resources.  (4) Alternative #4 will evaluate the impacts of processing activities, including timing and scheduling. 

The Council will appoint a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) to facilitate public information and give input on the EIS as it is developed.   Applications for the PAC  are due by October 6, 2009. 

The application form, and many other documents concerning this project, are available at the City of Scandia Office, 14727 209th St. N., during office hours (9:00 a.m. to Noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday) and on the City’s website. Contact City Administrator Anne Hurlburt for more information.

 Free E-mail Alerts on Timely Topics

Free e-mail alerts on timely topics, including the EIS, City Council meeting  agendas and Park and Recreation programs can be delivered to your mailbox!  Visit
and click on “E-Mail Updates” on the main menu to sign up.   

 "Safe Halloween" at Fire Department

On Saturday, October 31, 2009 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, the  Scandia Fire and Rescue Department will hold a fun family event for all ages.  Activities will include  a large bonfire, games, hot dogs & hot chocolate. Co-sponsors are the Scandia Marine Lions Club, Elim Lutheran Church and Helke Tree Service. Location:  Scandia Fire Hall, 15040 Scandia Trail (Highway 97.)

 Short Takes

Attention snowbirds—
Leaving town for the winter?  Make sure to contact the Washington County Sheriff’s Department (651 439-9381) for free home-checks while you are away.

Do I really need a permit for that?— Protect your investment in your home.  Building Official Steve Thorp is here to help you do the job right.  It’s a buyer’s market, so don’t jeopardize a future sale or refinancing with improvements not up to code.  It’s more costly to correct problems later.   Call Steve at 651 433-2274, Ext. 102 with any questions.
Winter Rec Programs Planned— The Parks and Recreation Committee is planning a variety of winter programs including the Saturday morning open-gym program at Scandia School, (January and February) and Vinterfest (February 6), The popular learn-to-skate and after-school hockey programs will also be offered.  Watch the city website for details. 

Burning Permits— A (no-charge) burning permit is required for open burning when there is no snow cover.  In all cases, please notify the Washington County Sheriff’s Office  (651 439-9381) one hour before you burn.  There may be restrictions depending on weather, time-of-day or air-quality issues.  See the city office for more information and for permits.

Exterior Storage— Scandia requires that all personal property be stored in a building or fully screened, with a few exceptions for licensed vehicles and recreation equipment.  No more than four passenger vehicles per dwelling unit are allowed on parcels less than 10 acres in size.  No more than 2 items of recreational equipment (such as campers, boats, trailers etc.) may be stored in the side or rear yard on any lot.

Signs— Permits are required for all signs, including temporary signs for garage sales and community events.  There’s no fee for temporary sign permits.  No signs may be placed in any public rights-of-way, on any roof, or painted on walls or attached to utility poles. 

For more information on exterior storage and signs see the city website under “FAQs.” 

 Community Calendar, October 2009—March, 2010


  • October 2,3 & 4, Traditions in the Trunk: Swedish Folk Dress, Quilts and Art, Gammelgården & Community Center
  • October 6, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Fire Department Open House
  • October 11, Lion’s Pancake Breakfast
  • October 12, Columbus Day— Office Closed
  • October 31, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Safe Halloween at the Fire Hall


  • November 3, Election Day (ISD 831)
  • November 11, Veteran’s Day— Office Closed
  • November 19, Lutfisk & Meatball Dinner, Elim Church
  • November 20, Turkey Bingo
  • November 26 & 27, Thanksgiving Holiday—Office Closed


  • December 1, 6:30 p.m. Public Meeting, 2010 City Budget
  • December 12, Lion’s Community Breakfast
  • December 13, Lucia Dagen at
  • December 15, 7 p.m., Budget Adoption Hearing
  • December 24, Christmas Eve— Office Closed at Noon
  • December 25,  Christmas Day—Office Closed


  • January 1, New Years Day— Office Closed
  • January 18, Martin Luther King Day— Office Closed


  • February 6, Vinterfest
  • February 7, Lion’s Pancake Breakfast
  • February 15, President’s Day— Office Closed
  • February 27, Fireball 2010

For more information and a city meeting calendar, see the website,

For Gammelgården events, see: 

City Hall, 14727 209th St. N. Scandia, MN 55073 Phone: 651-433-2274