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MINUTES – PLANNING COMMISSION – REGULAR MEETING – JULY 17, 2007

The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 17th day of July, 2007, by Chairperson Kuchenreuther in the Council Chambers of the Morris Senior Citizens/Community Center.

CALL OF THE ROLL:  Roll call was taken with the following members present:  Commissioners Hoffman, Rudney, Carpenter and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Commissioners Johnson, Granger and Stevenson were absent.  Also present were Interim City Manager Krosschell and ex-officio Miller.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 6/19/07 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Carpenter pointed out a typographical error in the “Reading and Approval of Minutes” heading.   Also, on page two, the fourth paragraph, in the first sentence the words “home made” should be “homemade”, and on the third page, the second to last paragraph, the words “wood fired” should be “wood-fired”.  Commissioner Carpenter moved, seconded by Hoffman, to approve the minutes with the above changes.  Motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None.

OTHER BUSINESS:  Outdoor Wood Burners:  Chairperson Kuchenreuther asked for suggestions on additions or changes to the draft ordinance she prepared for the last meeting. 

Ex-officio Miller indicated he discussed this with the Fire Chief.  The Fire Chief indicated he has plenty of things to do, but if the City required him to issue permits for the units, he would.  However, he is not in favor of these and the health hazards they pose.  Miller feels the city needs to address the health issues with the existing wood-fired burners in Morris. 

Kuchenreuther indicated the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has voluntary standards for new models that were phased in this spring. 

Carpenter indicated she feels the question is whether the City wants to bend over backwards to have such stringent requirements for those people that want these.  She asked if the City should just put a moratorium on them.  She stated she is not in favor of trying to figure out how to make these things healthy.

Hoffman suggested requiring a conditional use permit for outdoor wood burners so that the City has some recourse.  Kuchenreuther suggested requiring a conditional use permit and listing some minimum standards on such things are setbacks, stack height, and that the furnace be UL listed.  Hoffman indicated that way the conditions could vary depending on the situation.

Carpenter asked if the Code should state they are required to burn dry wood. 

Kuchenreuther indicated the existing wood-fired furnace in Morris has received a lot of favorable press which might induce others to look into this as a potential heating source.

Considerable discussion was held on various requirements that could be included in an ordinance addressing these. 

Hoffman indicated he would not want a wood burner next to his house in the middle of the summer, especially if they were burning green wood.  He feels there should be a requirement for a conditional use permit on a wood-fired furnaces used for other than heating a building.  Kuchenreuther indicated some ordinances say wood-fired furnaces can only be used in the winter.

Carpenter indicated she likes the idea of requiring a conditional use permit but feels the City should be very restrictive on conditions.  Hoffman indicated a conditional use permit would force a public hearing so that the neighbors have some input.  Kuchenreuther asked if other types of burners should be included such as corn stoves.  Carpenter pointed out Kuchenreuther’s draft ordinance does address other types of burners in Subdivision 4 alternative 2.

Rudney feels there should be an “exception” section in our ordinance such as Eyota’s Section 2.4 which states, “This ordinance does not apply to campfires; a small outdoor fire intended for recreation or cooking but not including a fire intended for disposal of waste wood or refuse.” 

Kuchenreuther suggested the ordinance be written so a conditional use permit is required for outdoor wood-fired furnaces or boilers, along with minimum conditions that must be met. 

Kuchenreuther indicated the EPA has a set of voluntary standards that stove manufacturers can adopt.  The EPA does not require any standards. 

Kuchenreuther read Section 10.51 of the Morris City Code which reads, “It is a misdemeanor for any person to maintain a public nuisance by his/her act or failure to perform a legal duty, and for purposes of this Section, a public nuisance shall be defined as any of the following:  (l) maintaining or permitting a condition which unreasonably annoys, injures or endangers the safety, health, morals, comfort or repose of any considerable number of members of the public; or, (2) interfering with, obstructing or rendering dangerous for passage, any street, public right‑of‑way, or waters used by the public; or, (3) any other act or omission declared by law to be a public nuisance.”  It is felt this ordinance would address a lot of problems the wood-fired furnace may pose.  Carpenter indicated Proctor’s ordinance states “Any dense smoke, noxious fumes, gas and soot, or cinders, in unreasonable quantities may be declared a public nuisance by a properly designated authority.”  She feels this is subjective.

 

Proctor’s ordinance has a provision which states, “All stacks or chimneys must be so constructed to withstand high winds or other related elements, and shall have a screen affixed to the top to prevent debris from escaping”.  Kuchenreuther indicated she likes that language.  She indicated she is unsure what to do about stack heights. 

Carpenter suggested Subd. 6 of Kuchenreuther’s draft ordinance read, “The outdoor wood-fired furnace shall have a chimney that extends at least 20’ above the ground surface.  If there are any residences within 300 feet, the chimney shall also extend at least as high above the ground surface as the height of the roofs of all such residences.”  She feels the next sentence should be deleted.   Kuchenreuther suggested the section say the chimney shall extend at least 2’ above any building within 300 feet.

Hoffman indicated he feels the ordinance should be written so the person wanting the wood-fired furnace is responsible to build it so as not to disturb their neighbor.  Kuchenreuther feels the City needs to have some recommended standards.  Hoffman indicated he does not feel qualified to set setbacks and footages. 

Kuchenreuther suggested that once the ordinance is ready, the Outdoor Wood Burners fact sheet from NESCAUM and the Guidance for Health Professionals also be provided to the City Council.  It was felt the City Council can determine how to handle the existing wood-fired burner in town because it is already regulated by the City’s nuisance ordinance.

Kuchenreuther feels someone should talk the Craig Beyer, the owner of the existing wood-fired furnace in Morris, so he’s not blind sided by this ordinance.  Ex-officio Miller will go along with either Kuchenreuther or Granger to discuss this with Beyer.

Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Carpenter, to direct Chairperson Kuchenreuther to write an ordinance which will be reviewed by the City Attorney to require a conditional use permit for wood-fired furnaces that must specify that the furnace has to be approved and meet minimum EPA standards and is UL listed at the time of the conditional use permit, specify appropriate setbacks and chimney height, must specify that approved fuels only can be used, must specify the boiler be operated so it doesn’t violate the City’s nuisance ordinance, and include applicability language from Eyota’s ordinance.  Motion carried.

August Meeting:  It was consensus to cancel the August Planning Commission meeting if there are no public hearings.

Sign Ordinance:  The Planning Commission received a handout from Commissioner Carpenter regarding the Sign Ordinance.  This will be discussed at a future meeting.

 

Wind Turbines:  Kuchenreuther indicated City Manager Larson mentioned the Planning Commission may want to set standards for wind turbines in residential zones.

City/County Planner:  It is felt the City and County need to get back on track with looking into the possibility of hiring a joint planner.

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Commissioner Hoffman moved, seconded by Rudney, to adjourn. Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:20.

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