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MINUTES– MORRIS CITY COUNCIL REGULAR MEETING–OCTOBER 22, 2013

The regular meeting of the Morris City Council was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 22nd day of October, 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,   Police Chief Tiegs, Finance Director Raasch, and City Attorney Jordan.  

CITIZENíS COMMENTS:  Sid Wilcox was present at the meeting and wanted to know where the East 7th Street rezoning issue was at.  Wilcox indicated it was his understanding from the last council meeting that the council directed the Planning Commission to put the zoning back to the way it was.  Wilcox explained he was at the meeting to again ask that the zoning be put back to Highway Business. 

Giese explained that City Manager Hill outlined three options for the council which is to have a first reading of an ordinance to change the zoning back to HB, to do nothing and leave it alone or to direct the Planning Commission to look at a new district.

Miller indicated that the Planning Commissionís job is to make a recommendation back to the council.  Wilcox stated the problem is that the Planning Commission doesnít meet very often and has no worksessions so this could go on for years.

Giese pointed out something would be resolved after tonight, although he didnít know yet what that would be.  Wilcox indicated he felt there were two women on the Planning Commission that were trying to save face because they know they made some mistakes originally. 

PUBLIC HEARINGSPublic Hearing to Consider a Public Facility Plan for a DENCO II MPCA Grant Project:  Mayor Giese opened the public hearing at 5:20 p.m.

Mick Miller, General Manager of DENCO II, was present at the meeting and reviewed the history of how this project came about.  Miller stated the MPCA came up with some legislation that talked about a beneficial reuse grant program to try and assist a few key ethanol plants.  The goal was to try and help the city reduce wastewater and assist the ethanol plant in water reduction.  Representatives initially tried to use the grant money to find a way to capture and reuse stormwater, but discovered the water quality was too inconsistent for ethanol production.

Miller indicated the current grant funds would be used to install new equipment at the plant that would actually be owned by the city.  Miller noted they have put together a facility plan that outlines what theyíre going to do, how theyíre going to do it and the cost.  It will not cost the city any money, rather the city is just a vehicle used to access the grant funds.  Giese asked if the city would continue to have ownership of the equipment once it was installed.  Miller stated the City would own the equipment but repairs and maintenance would be DENCOís responsibility. 

Hill explained that this grant requires matching funds and those would come from DEED. The city has already taken action to accept these funds.  Miller pointed out the MPCA has looked at the original information and given the go ahead for the facility plan and once this is approved and submitted they will then allow for the plans and specs stage. 

Miller explained calculations have been done and they anticipate that their water consumption will be reduced which will reduce the amount of water used and discharged in the city.  Miller stated this grant goes back to the Minnesota producer payment program in which the government promised to pay out funds to ethanol plants.  With the budget crunch and the shut-down of the Morris ethanol plant for a time, the funds were not distributed.  This grant, which was offered to a small number of plants and declined by the others, is the repayment of those funds from years back.  Miller pointed out the current budget suggests starting after the first of the year and having things wrapped up by June or July.   

There being no further comments from the public, Mayor Giese closed the public hearing at 5:36 p.m.

Council member Miller moved, seconded by Storck, to adopt Resolution #3190-10-13, Resolution Approving the DENCO II Water Savings Facility Plan Track 1.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

READING AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES10/8/13 Regular Meeting Minutes:  Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Wohlers, to approve the 10/8/13 regular meeting minutes.  Motion carried.

10/8/13 Condensed Version Minutes:  Council member Storck moved, seconded by Wohlers, to approve the 10/8/13 condensed version minutes.  Motion carried.

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

         A.      Audit of City Bills

         B.      SCMC Administrative Report

         C.      Gambling Reports

         D.      Planning Commission Minutes, 9/17/13

         E.       Revenue & Expenditure Report

Motion carried.

PETITIONS, REQUESTS AND COMMUNICATIONSGambling Report from American Legion:  Council member Miller moved, seconded by Solvie, 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 RESOLUTIONSFirst Reading of Ordinance No. 95, An Ordinance Amending and Updating the Zoning Map of the City of Morris:  City Manager Hill stated that the proposed ordinance is an amendment to the zoning ordinance.  An amendment can be brought up by the public, the Planning Commission or the City Council.  In this case the City Council indicated they wanted to amend the zoning ordinance.  Hill pointed out any time a change is made to the zoning ordinance, state law requires a super majority vote, which means 4 of the 5 council members must vote in favor whether or not all five are at the meeting.

Hill noted the Planning Commissionís recommendation that came back to the council is that the zone not be changed back to HB, but to allow the Planning Commission the opportunity to look at a new zoning district that would take into account existing and future small businesses, as well as the residential character of the neighborhood.  Hill stated the easiest thing to do would be to change the zone back to HB.  If the council chooses that, tonight would serve as the first reading of the ordinance, a second reading and public hearing would be held at the next meeting and if passed it would be published and take effect 30 days from publication. 

Hill explained that the councilís options are to start the amending ordinance process, take no action on this or to give direction to the Planning Commission to look into a new zone.  Hill noted that the Planning Commission can take a look at a new zone at any time without direction from the City Council.    

Mayor Giese stated he was torn on this issue.  Giese stated the Planning Commission was asked to take a look at this and came back with something other than what the council thought they would come back with.  Giese stated he personally likes the idea of exploring a new zoning district and would be in favor of that no matter what is decided tonight. 

Council member Solvie stated he is in favor of the ordinance to change it back and if the Planning Commission wanted to write something up they could do so and bring it back to the council.  Solvie suggested this not be drawn out.  Wohlers agreed with Solvie and stated his position is to move it back to Highway Business.  Wohlers asked what kind of message the council is sending to current and future business owners in town and believes it was an injustice to rezone it the way it was.  Wohlers suggested rezoning it back and working with existing businesses to continue to look at other options.  Wohlers noted the city has the issue of Brown Wilbert also and they are nonconforming no matter which way the council does it. 

Storck stated the highway was along East 7th Street long before the planning commission members were ever there.  Wohlers indicated the businesses have been taxpayers for a lot of years.  Storck stated he tends to agree and if the city doesnít know what theyíre doing, then they should leave it alone. 

Council member Miller stated notices came through city hall and hearings were held on changes to the zoning map and nobody said a thing.  Miller indicated the area in question has changed dramatically and is very residential now.  Miller declared he is all for taking care of the businesses but the city has to have some restrictions.

Miller stated the city would be looking at two or three months before changing it back to HB.  Miller noted the area is no longer a highway district and the highway is four blocks away.  Wohlers pointed out that people who purchased homes along there knew full well what was there.  Solvie acknowledged that everyone believes that a new zone should be created, but until that point heíd like to see it changed back to HB, because then the council is not dependent on when it gets changed.  Giese added that in doing that it also takes any pressure off as far as a time constraint.  Giese suggested not rushing through it and having the new zone exactly the way they want it.  Giese also added that he doesnít want to give the perception to the Planning Commission that the council is not supporting what they're doing. 

Miller stated he believes when the Commission was asked to look at the rezoning they were told to find something that would make everybody happy, so the directive was more than just to change it back to HB.

Giese stated if the council proceeded with the ordinance the public hearing notice would let people know there would be a change in the zoning ordinance.  If the first reading isn't done then basically the council leaves it the same and accepts the PC recommendation for a new district.  Hill stated a new district could be an official request from the council or the Planning Commission could take it up on their own. 

Miller indicated based on what he is hearing he believes that the council is requesting that the Planning Commission go forward in looking at a residential/commercial zone.  Solvie stated by doing that it is turned over to the Planning Commission and the time table isnít with the council.  Giese clarified the area being referred to is East 7th Street from Columbia Avenue to Iowa Avenue.  Giese pointed out once a new zone is created it may apply to other areas of town as well.  

Council member Solvie moved, seconded by Council member Wohlers, to accept this as the first reading of Ordinance No. 95, An Ordinance Amending and Updating the Zoning Map of the City of Morris and to set the second reading and public hearing for 5:20 p.m. on November 12, 2013.  Upon a roll call vote taken and Council member Wohlers, Solvie and Mayor Giese voting in favor and Council member Storck and Miller voting against, motion failed for lack of a 4/5 vote.

Council member Miller stated he would like the Planning Commission to take a look at a new zone that would accommodate the best interests of everyone in the neighborhood.

Wohlers asked about Brown Wilbert and if there was any room at the Industrial Park.  Hill pointed out they are allowed to stay where they're at.  In most other cities they are zoned light industrial and one of the options is to zone that little postage stamp area as LI.  Wohlers asked if they were planning to expand and the city wasnít giving them the opportunity.  Hill stated he had heard no plans for expansion until this whole zoning issue came up.  Wohlers noted he doesnít want to lose a business because they are landlocked and canít expand.  Wohlers suggested the city have a discussion with them.

Miller acknowledged there are a number of people that work there and they pay good wages and it could be looked at the same time as the new zone.  Miller confirmed he felt the city should create a new zone and get it done right, even though it make take another month or two.

Hill stated there was absolutely no ulterior motive as to why the zoning was changed, other than the fact that a brand new HB zone was created on Hwy 28 and 9 for all new businesses and this particular area wasn't a highway anymore.  If the city would have known in 2011 the affect it would have on the businesses they never would have done it.  The current businesses that are there are grandfathered in. 

Council member Miller moved, seconded by Mayor Giese, to accept the Planning Commissionís recommendation and have them look at developing a new residential/commercial zone and to look at changing the zoning for Brown Wilbert.  Solvie asked if a time frame could be put on it.  Giese stated he would pull back his second if a time limit were put on it.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Resolution Declaring Costs to be Assessed, Terms for Repayment and Setting the Final Assessment Hearing for the West 9th, 10th and 11th Street Improvement Project:  Hill explained that when the city went into the West side project it was going to start the process of assessing for pavement.  The council passed a resolution to assess 30% of the pavement and the city would pick up the other 70% and changed the storm sewer assessment from 50 to 75%.  Hill stated what happened was that city staff found a surprisingly high assessment rate for properties that are on corners.  They end up with more frontage on the street and this is one of the first projects in a long time where the city has done the avenues.   

Hill added that one of the things he is recommending is dropping the pavement assessment from 30% to 25% and instead of using front feet for roads use a unit assessment.  The council has an amended resolution in front of them because of the change in the pavement assessment.  The city is going to be picking up about $50,000 more of the street assessment.  If you have a corner lot you pay for all the sidewalk.  Hill stated that is maybe something the city can look at moving forward to try and make a change.  Sidewalks were only done if they needed to be repaired.     

Hill explained the average assessment for a standard 50 foot lot is approximately $9,300 but a 50 foot lot on a corner is about $5,000 more.  Storck confirmed that people are getting nailed for the street in front of them and on the side and the city never used to charge anything for payment. 

Hill explained the total for the street portion was $1,032,173 and at 25% the assessed portion will be $258,000.  Hill stated it the city had to bond and levy taxes for that whole million it would never be able to keep up with street projects.  In the past, the side

Resolution Declaring Costs to be Assessed, Terms for Repayment and Setting the Final Assessment Hearing for the West 9th, 10th and 11th Street Improvement Project

streets were never done because of money.  Hill noted the problem with sidewalks is that you can't shift the assessment amount to everyone else.  Hill stated maybe there's a better way to look at curb and gutter and sidewalks for the next project.  This assessment is being proposed for 15 years with an interest rate of 3%.

Mayor Giese moved, seconded by Council member Miller, to adopt Resolution #3191-10-13, Resolution Declaring Costs to be Assessed, Terms for Repayment and Setting the Final Assessment Hearing for the West 9th, 10th and 11th Street Improvement Project for 5:20 p.m. on November 12, 2013.  Upon a roll call vote taken and all present voting in favor, motion carried.

CITY MANAGER'S REPORTS & RECOMMENDATIONSCity Manager Report: This was informational for the council.

Vacancy on Human Rights Commission:  This was informational for the council.

NEW BUSINESS:  Wohlers asked about the zoning in industrial park.  Hill stated it is I2 (heavy industrial).  Wohlers questioned the storage units that are out there.  Hill explained the city owned the land that was sold for the storage units but it should not have been sold for anything other than industrial business.  Hill noted there is no additional land available to the city in the Industrial Park but if the city were able to obtain some they would hold onto it for future industrial use.

OLD BUSINESS:  None

INFORMATIONAL ITEMS:  None

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Mayor Giese adjourned the meeting at 6:38 p.m.

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