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MINUTES-PLANNING COMMISSION-REGULAR MEETING-JANUARY 15, 2008

The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 15th day of January, 2008, 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 Rudney, Johnson, Carpenter, Granger and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Commissioner Hoffman was absent.  Also present were City Manager Hill and ex-officio Miller.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 11/20/07 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Johnson moved, seconded by Carpenter, to approve the minutes of the 11/20/07 regular meeting as presented.  With all voting in favor, motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None.

OTHER BUSINESS:  Elect Chair and Vice Chair for 2008:  Commissioner Johnson moved, seconded by Granger, to re-elect Kuchenreuther as Chairperson for 2008 and Rudney as Vice-chairperson for 2008.  With all voting in favor, motion carried.  Commissioner Granger thanked Kuchenreuther and Rudney for their service as Chair and Vice Chair of the Planning Commission.

Woodburner Ordinance:  After receiving information from Central Boiler, a manufacturer of outdoor furnaces, Kuchenreuther re-wrote the ordinance combining that information with the ordinance the City Attorney recently drafted. 

Commissioner Granger indicated she feels the Planning Commission is considering this ordinance that addresses quality of life and not affecting each other adversely.  She feels this type of ordinance is a step backwards.  These devices produce heavy smoke which is a health hazard no matter the spacing or their stack height.  With this ordinance there could feasibly be 5 wood burners on her block.  She indicated she would argue on the basis this is still a nuisance to her neighbors by causing emissions that are not healthy to them.  She indicated the City of New Prague has banned outdoor wood-fired furnaces.  Kuchenreuther asked if indoor wood fireplaces or wood stoves would also be banned.  It was felt the outdoor furnaces are the issue at hand.  Granger indicated outdoor wood heaters burn a lot more than indoor heaters and therefore produce more emissions. 

Granger indicated the existing stoves would be grandfathered in. 

Granger indicated it does not seem to her that the benefits outweigh the costs of an outdoor furnace. 

Hill indicated the complainant feels the smoke from the outdoor furnace is a health hazard.  He also stated the owner of the outdoor furnace is considering moving it to the other side of his building.  Hill recommended he not do anything until this Ordinance is adopted.  Hill indicated he received a call from someone on East 9th Street that has smelled the smoke from the outdoor furnace. 

Kuchenreuther indicated that according to the manufacturer these stoves have the potential to provide a reasonably clean and cost-effective way to heat large areas. 

Miller indicated he has a tough time seeing these furnaces work in a residential area, but feels they may work in the perimeter of the city. 

Carpenter suggested adjusting the setbacks so they could only be on the edge of town or on a huge lot, and requiring a conditional use permit for them, although she feels the easiest thing would be to ban them.  Rudney indicated he feels if they are banned altogether the City loses some of the language for the existing outdoor furnace.  

Granger suggested using New Prague’s language to ban the outdoor furnaces.

Commissioner Carpenter moved, seconded by Rudney, to table this item until the Planning Commission looks at an alternative to encompass the spirit of these discussions, and bring back another version of the ordinance that would ban them in the City limits, require a conditional use permit in the city’s ½ mile zoning jurisdiction, and use setbacks for furnaces that are not EPA certified.  Granger asked if this would affect properties in the City’s ½ mile zoning jurisdiction.  Hill will check with the City Attorney on that question.  Granger indicated she does not want to inadvertently cause hardship in the ½ mile zoning jurisdiction.  The motion to table carried.

Kuchenreuther indicated she will rewrite the ordinance that will 1) include definitions;

2) ban outdoor furnaces in City limits; 3) regulate them in the City’s ½ mile zoning jurisdiction (if according to the City Attorney the City controls that) by requiring a conditional use permit, set stack height and setbacks and use setbacks for units not EPA certified; and 4) address outdoor furnaces in existence in City limits.

Update of Zoning Map:  In July of 2006 the Planning Commission discussed Framnas Township’s concerns with the MC zone on farmland.  The Planning Commission feels they would like to speak with Framnas Township representatives regarding their concerns.  It was the consensus to have the Planning Commission review the proposed zoning map in February, and to invite Framnas Township representatives to the Planning commission meeting in March to discuss their concerns.

Zoning Bulletin:  It was the consensus of the Planning Commission to renew the subscription to the Zoning Bulletin.

Planning Grant:  Rudney asked about the Planning Grant from MPCA for the Elementary School site.  Granter is working on the grant and indicated the Elementary  School Reuse Committee has applied for a grant to redevelop the 17 acre site.   The planning is predicated on the school building being gone.  The grant would fund landscape architects, architects to design a set of model green homes, and look at the entire 17 acres to see if there are ways to encourage green construction in the remaining area.  Carpenter indicated Kuchenreuther will be attending planning meetings with the City Council on January 23 and 30.  The idea would be to bring the Planning Commission in on the discussions eventually.

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Johnson, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.

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