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MINUTES  – MORRIS CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING - AUGUST 27, 2013

The regular meeting of the Morris City Council was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 27th day of August, 2013, by Mayor Giese in the Council Chambers of the Morris Senior Citizens/Community Center.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE:  The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

ROLL CALL:  Roll call was taken with the following members present:  Council member Wohlers, Solvie, Miller, Storck and Mayor Giese.  Also present was City Manager Hill,  Interim Police Chief Tiegs and Finance Director Raasch.  Public Works Director Dittbenner arrived at 5:25 p.m.

CITIZENíS COMMENTS:  Robi Bowman, 315 Eleanor Avenue, was present at the meeting with a group of citizens wanting to address the council about an outdoor pool on the old elementary school property.  Bowman stated the issue was brought up in 2007 but because of timing of the new school and the grandiose pool that was proposed that was stopped.    Bowman indicated she went around SCMC and got 46 signatures and if given more time she feels the council would find there are more citizens that would like to see this go forward.  Bowman asked that the council consider these things when they move forward with the management of that property.

Evan Varga, 20591 462nd Avenue, stated he has some concerns about the Prairieland proposal.  Varga indicated there has been some talk about housing for students and he cautioned the city to try and provide student housing.  Varga stated he understands the need for more accessible housing for seniors but feels the housing stock the city has is in pretty good shape.  Varga stated this piece of property is in the hearts and minds of the people in the city and he would like to see a park or pool there as a legacy to the town.

Sid Wilcox, 210 Montana, stated he has a building on East 7th Street, along with 10 other businesses along there, and from Columbia Avenue to Iowa Avenue it has been designated as only housing.  Wilcox indicated he has been told he has to tear his business down.  Wilcox noted if he were to tear his building down and build a house, according to the specifications the only house he could get on that lot would be 13 feet wide.  

Wilcox stated all the businesses along East 7th are having a hard time.  Most of them are to the point of retirement and theyíre being told they can't do anything.  Wilcox pointed out he has had 9 people that have wanted his building.  Wilcox noted he checked with an attorney and stated that his property cannot be forcibly taken from him and that the city would have to reimburse him.

Wilcox also spoke on the school property.  Wilcox feels that the council should not approve accepting the bid from Prairieland.  Wilcox asked the council if they have looked at any of the projects these people have built, checked to see how financially secure they are or how many liens have been filed against their company.  Wilcox noted over 50% of the people he has talked to would rather see the boys from Riley Brothers take this property over. 

Wilcox further stated that the city is going to host the VFW state tournament in two years and a new scoreboard is needed.  Wilcox noted Riley Brothers have helped out with those kinds of things plus donated to Habitat for Humanity houses.  Wilcox questioned how many of those things the other company would help out with.    

Pilar Eble, 4 North Court, stated she has heard the idea of student housing but encouraged the council to talk with the chancellor.  Eble noted she feels the real problem for housing is for young professionals. 

Eble asked about the idea of using some of the school property for a community place such as a pool.  Eble stated the area seems big enough to do some housing plus a community space.  Eble, who has four children, stated last year they paid a membership to the Benson pool and ended up spending a lot of their dispoable income in Benson when it could have been spent in Morris.  Eble indicated there is not a lot to do in town with small children or teenagers.  Eble pointed out there is the RFC but that is not the ideal place to go on a hot day.  Eble agreed that not everyone should be taxed and suggested the idea of sponsorships for the pool.  Eble noted she has heard that pools don't make money but would like to try to add some other elements so it could be a viable option.  Eble does not feel it is an all or nothing issue.  

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None

READING AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES8/13/13 Regular Meeting Minutes:  Council member Storck moved, seconded by Miller, to approve the 8/13/13 regular meeting minutes.  Motion carried.

8/13/13 Condensed Version Minutes:  Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Mayor Giese, to approve the 8/13/13 condensed version minutes.  Motion carried.

CONSENT AGENDA:  Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Wohlers, to approve the consent agenda which included the following items:

         A.      Audit of City Bills

         B.      SCMC Administrative Report

         C.      Gambling Report

         D.      Planning Commission Minutes, 7/16/13

         E.       Application for Exempt Permit – Wild Turkey Federation

         F.       Liquor License

Motion carried.

PETITIONS, REQUESTS AND COMMUNICATIONSGambling Report from American Legion:  Council member Miller moved, seconded by Storck, to accept the gambling report from the American Legion.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor and Mayor Giese abstaining as an officer of the Legion, motion carried.

ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONSResolution Approving a Title VI Civil Rights Program for Morris Transit:  Finance Director Raasch stated adoption of this resolution is a federal requirement for the transit grant.

Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Wohlers, to adopt Resolution #3177-8-13, Resolution Approving a Title VI Civil Rights Program for Morris Transit.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Resolution Approving a Conditional Use Permit for the Morris North Apostolic Christian Church:  City Manager Hill explained that there is a recommendation from the Planning Commission to approve a conditional use permit from the Morris North Apostolic Christian Church, to construct a new church on Birch Avenue near the intersection of Highway 9.  The conditional use would allow a church to be built in a residential zoning district.  The only condition placed on the permit was that all outside lighting be dark sky compliant.    

Council member Storck asked if there was any chance that Eleanor Avenue would be extended.  Hill stated there is no plan for that at this time.  Hill explained the utilities would come into an area that would be Eleanor Avenue if it was extended

Council member Miller moved, seconded by Solvie, to adopt Resolution #3178-8-13, Resolution Approving a Conditional Use Permit for the Morris North Apostolic Christian Church.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

CITY MANAGER'S REPORTS & RECOMMENDATIONSMorris Planning Commission – Sid Wilcox and Other Owners Issue:  Hill stated what happened is that with the rezoning that was done in 2011, the area along East 7th Street from Columbia Avenue to Iowa Avenue was rezoned from highway business (HB) to multiple family (RM) residence.  A public hearing was held and there were a number of other changes as part of the rezoning that was finalized in December of 2011.  Hill noted there are some owners that are not happy with these changes.  Hill pointed out they do not have to tear down their building and if they have a current business they have the right to sell and continue that same business, because those were grandfathered in. 

Hill explained in the case of Wilcox's building he is trying to sell it himself and it can't be sold and a new business established.  Hill indicated the City Council could adopt a resolution tonight asking the Planning Commission to rezone it back to Highway Business after a public hearing is held.  Hill pointed out there was no real big issue as to why it was changed.  When the Planning Commission looked at the comprehensive plan for the city it was part of the discussion.  Hill stated obviously it's not a highway anymore but there were businesses that were established because it was a highway many years ago.

Council member Miller asked if a variance could be granted by the Planning Commission for a different business.  Hill stated no, because they would be considered a nonconforming use.  None of the businesses are allowed to expand under the current zoning, but could if the area was rezoned.  Hill pointed out everyone in town was notified of the public hearing for the original rezoning. 

 

Wohlers stated that as a former business owner it doesnít seem fair and the city isnít doing anyone any justice by leaving the zoning the way it is.  Mayor Giese agreed with Wohlers.  Hill explained it wasnít an issue of what the city wanted to try and move out of there it was a matter of where it wanted highway business to be in the future. 

Hill reiterated that the matter should go back to the Planning Commission and the council could pass a resolution asking them to zone the north half of 7th Street from Columbia Avenue to Iowa Avenue back to highway business

Council member Storck moved, seconded by Miller, to adopt Resolution #3179-8-13, Resolution Requesting Planning Commission Action on Zoning.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

City Manager Report:  Hill indicated the preliminary budget would be presented at the next meeting.  Interviews for the police officer position have been conducted.  Tiegs indicated they have made a conditional offer and they are waiting for the results of the physical and psychological exam

Hill noted the FEMA disaster team is in town and the Public Works Director will be meeting with them to go over the costs associated with the storm in June.  The cityís buildings are covered by insurance but all the time and effort in cleaning up will probably get reimbursed.  Wohlers asked if there was a trickle down to residents.  Hill indicated there sometimes is in the case of a flood, but not for a storm.    

NEW BUSINESS:  None

OLD BUSINESS:  None

INFORMATIONAL ITEMS:  Mayor Giese explained how the EDA works and what it addresses differently from the council.  The school was purchased by the EDA and has authority over that property.   

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Mayor Giese adjourned the meeting at 6:02 p.m.

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