MINUTES-PLANNING COMMISSION-REGULAR MEETING- SEPTEMBER 18, 2007
The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was
called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 18th day of September, 2007, by
Chairperson Kuchenreuther in the Council Chambers of the Morris Senior
CALL OF THE ROLL: Roll call was taken with the following members present: Commissioners Johnson, Granger,
Hoffman, Rudney and Chairperson Kuchenreuther. Commissioner Carpenter arrived at 5:18, and Commissioner
Stevenson was absent. Also present
were City Manager Hill, ex-officio Miller and Housing Director Fohl.
READING AND APPROVAL of 7/17/07 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES: Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by
Hoffman, to approve the minutes of the 7/17/07 regular meeting as
submitted. Motion carried.
PUBLIC HEARINGS: None.
Ex-officio Miller welcomed new City Manager Blaine Hill to
the meeting. The Commissioners
each introduced themselves.
Lights at Chizek Field:
Chairperson Kuchenreuther added this item to the agenda and requested
that the new lights that are going up in Chizek Field be dark sky compliant. Hill indicated the new lights are
already installed and are energy efficient and geared toward focusing the light
only onto the field. He indicated
he would check into whether or not they are dark sky compliant.
Review Recommendation to City Council Regarding Outdoor
Furnaces: The Planning
Commission received a proposed ordinance regarding outdoor wood furnaces and a
memo from Chairperson Kuchenreuther to the City Council explaining the Planning
Commission’s rationale regarding the ordinance. She indicated the memo discusses some of the items the
Planning Commission considered, i.e. an outright ban on these furnaces, as well
as an ordinance that would specify setbacks, chimney heights, etc. Also in the memo she outlined what
items are in the ordinance and why they are there. She indicated the City Council will receive some of the
background information the Planning Commission used in their discussions. In the end, the Planning Commission
recommends that a conditional use permit be required for installation of all
new outdoor furnaces.
Rudney asked if the definition of “dry wood” should be
included in the ordinance.
Kuchenreuther indicated that would be included in the definition section
of the ordinance. She noted it
would however, be somewhat subjective.
Hill indicated anyone that has an indoor wood burner knows what dry wood
is. Carpenter indicated she would
be tempted to leave the ordinance as is and if there is a problem then call it
Granger indicated she was not at the last meeting of the
Planning Commission, but noted that several meetings ago the Planning
Commission considered banning these furnaces altogether. She states the proposed ordinance
contains setbacks that are nearly impossible to meet in Morris and questioned
if this is a chicken’s way of banning them. Hoffman indicated he doesn’t feel it is a way of banning
them, rather it requires that each request be looked at individually.
Kuchenreuther indicated she feels they should send this to
the City Council as is and let them decide if they want it to be more
Johnson asked how many complaints have been received
regarding the outdoor furnace. Kuchenreuther
indicated there has been one complaint.
Johnson pointed out that boiler is being used constantly and is not used
only for heating purposes. Miller
stated that even though it is used year around, it does not call for heat
Carpenter indicated she feels
the proposed ordinance has good flexibility.
Ex-officio Miller, Commissioner Granger, and City Manager
Hill will speak with the owner of the outdoor furnace on East 7th
Street regarding this.
It was the consensus to send Kuchenreuther’s memo and the
proposed ordinance to the City Council.
Melanie Fohl, Executive Director of the Housing and Redevelopment
Authority, was present. She
reviewed the Housing Study that was completed in March of 2007.
Fohl stated the number of households in Morris has increased
a slight amount in recent years.
However, population has not increased as there are fewer people in
Fohl indicated the study indicates a commonly used standard
for affordable housing is that a household can apply 30% of gross income for
housing expenses. The County’s
median household income in 2006 translates into $1,125 per month based on 30%
Three target neighborhoods were identified in the
study. The North Neighborhood is
from 7th Street north to east of Atlantic; the Central Neighborhood
is East of Atlantic to California from 7th Street to South Street;
and the West Neighborhood is 4th Street to Crystal Lake north to the
concrete plant. Fohl indicated a
lot of those areas are dilapidated and not being rehabilitated. Many of them are considered
functionally obsolete housing which is described as housing that is less than
900 square feet in size. She stated the study recommends
buying those properties as they become available
and trying to get them rehabilitated, or if several lots are
available next to each other, making those available to adjacent property
Fohl indicated the Study indicates lot size is another issue
that makes it difficult for houses that are functionally obsolete to be used
constructively. The City Code
requires a minimum 75-foot lot width for residential parcels. There are a great number of lots in the
older areas of town that are not close to that size.
Fohl indicated a number of the recommendations from the
Study are already being done. She
stated the County HRA does rehab grants.
She stated that is a difficult competitive process.
The Study recommends developing a neighborhood
revitalization program and consider a mobile home park improvement
program. It also recommends the
City consider the creation of a rehab/purchase program and continue to
coordinate with the Stevens County HRA to apply for Minnesota Urban and Rural
Homesteading Program funds as they become available. The Study also recommends
initiating employer involvement in home ownership programs. Fohl stated HUD and the State of
Minnesota have different ways to help provide grants, etc.
Granger indicated she was on the Housing Committee and feels
the consultants were very good.
She indicated she is very interested in seeing the City pursue
implementation on several of the recommendations of the Study. She stated the Housing Committee has
been dissolved and there is no body pursuing implementation at this time. She stated during recent annexation
proceedings there was discussion of people moving out of Morris because of a
lack of housing. She would like to
see the City work on that. She
indicated it would have to be a phased project. Johnson suggested having a Habitat for Humanity type program
for home improvements.
Hill pointed out that removing housing that is dilapidated
will increase the value of nearby homes.
He feels it is in the best interest of the City to find and allocate
funds to help with this and pointed out the City just has to be creative.
Johnson asked how many houses have been taken off the list
of rentals since the rental inspection program began. Fohl indicated the Study indicates 118 have been removed
since 1998. Those have been
removed for a variety of reasons, and not just because of the rental inspection
Kuchenreuther questioned if there is any way to get
different people from the community to start prioritizing which of the
recommendations are most applicable to Morris. Fohl indicated her office does not have the staff to take
this on. Granger indicated she
doesn’t want this Study to just get lost.
She feels it is incumbent on the Planning Commission to get something
done. Kuchenreuther asked if the
Planning Commission should think about the structure for a group to bring
expertise to such a
Carpenter suggested the Planning Commission recommend to the City
Council that they appoint a board to do this.
Green Housing Component of the Elementary School
indicated the Elementary School Reuse Committee has come to the determination
that the old elementary school building needs to be demolished. They are seeking a redevelopment grant
for removing the building. She
stated a green housing demonstration project is advised. The group is working with Dovetail
Partners, Inc., development consultants, who propose to make it a model green
housing program. Granger indicated
the Housing Study recommends phased development of the 17.73-acre with 20 to 24
owner-occupied town homes / twin homes, 16 to 20 general occupancy twin homes /
town house rental units, and 10 to 12 brownstone / town home student housing
rental units for 30-40 students.
Granger noted that to the north of the Elementary School
property along 7th Street, the business uses should be phased out so
another new large commercial or industrial use is not built there. It is recommended that area be
There being no further business, Commissioner Carpenter moved, seconded by
Hoffman, to adjourn. Motion
carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.