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MINUTES – PLANNING COMMISSION – REGULAR MEETING – APRIL 15, 2008

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

READING AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES:  2/19/08 Regular Meeting:  Commissioner Granger moved, seconded by Rudney, to approve the minutes of the 2/19/08 regular meeting as present.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

3/18/08 Regular Meeting:  Commissioner Granger moved, seconded by Hoffman, to approve the minutes of the 3/18/08 regular meeting as presented.  With four voting in favor and Chairperson Kuchenreuther abstaining because she was not at that meeting, motion carried.

4/9/08 Special Meeting:  Commissioner Johnson moved, seconded by Granger, to approve the minutes of the 4/9/08 special meeting as presented.  With four voting in favor and Chairperson Kuchenreuther abstaining because she was not at that meeting, motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  Strobel Variance Request:  This hearing is for a zoning variance request from Section 11.23, Subd. 2 D 5 (b) of the Morris City Code which requires a 10’ rear yard setback in a residential (R) zone.  This request is by Steve and Kris Strobel, 902 Columbia Avenue, legally described as Block 45, Lot 1, First Addition, parcel number 20-0479-000.  This variance, if granted, would allow a deck within 3’ of the rear yard line.

City Manager Hill provided pictures of the site.  He indicated the split rail fence along the back side of the property is 3’ from the back property line.  He received no calls or comments on the request.  If the variance is granted, the deck would be built to the fence. 

Strobel provided a letter from Fred Geyen, the owner of the property to the rear of this property, indicating he has no objection to the Strobel’s request.

Hill pointed out a patio could go all the way to the property line.  However, a deck requires a setback. 

Rudney indicated the Strobels have made a lot of improvements to this property.  He indicated a deck would still provide drainage.  He feels the hardship would be the size of the lot, which is 50 X 140. 

Johnson indicated he feels the deck would fit the property appropriately. 

Commissioner Johnson moved, seconded by Granger, to approve this variance request as requested with the hardship being the narrow lot.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Zoning Amendment Hearing:  This hearing is for a zoning amendment request from Chapter 11, Section 11.41, Subd. 2 of the Morris City Code which does not allow churches in an I2 Heavy Industrial Zone.  This request is by the City Council of the City of Morris in response to a request from the Morris Community Church, for the old UBC lumber yard located at 10 West 6th Street, property legally described as 35 125 42, Lots C & D of SE ¼ SW ¼.  This amendment, if granted, would allow a church as a conditional use in the I2 Heavy Industrial zone. 

Kuchenreuther stated the only conditional uses permitted in the I2 zone now are feedmills, elevators and billboards. 

Rudney indicated he feels it is important that this is surveyed so there is not a problem with the property lines between Caseys, this property, and Morris Commercial Print.  Hill indicated there is a metes and bounds description on this property which he indicated is common with property along the railroad.  He stated the only comment he received was from Carl Moser, owner of Commercial Print.  He has a concern about the southern property line between his property and the old UBC property.  There is a fence between the two properties, and he owns property on the UBC side of a fence.  Hill stated with railroad property there is railroad right-of-way, so he suggested this be looked at very close.

Hill stated that when the City Council addressed this issue, City Attorney Glasrud suggested that instead of amending the ordinance to allow churches as a conditional use in the I2 zone, the City consider rezoning the area.  Granger agreed it would be logical to rezone this area from I2 to Central Business District (CBD).  Hill indicated churches are permitted as a conditional use in the CBD.  Kuchenreuther agreed that rezoning the area would make more sense. 

Granger indicated the comprehensive plan talks about trying to get industrial uses focused in the Industrial Park to protect the residential areas from adjacent commercial and industrial development. 

Kim Gremmels, 108 West 5th Street, indicated she is not a member of the Morris Community Church, who is interested in purchasing this property.  She indicated she is in favor of the church going into this property.

Philip Drown, 7 Brook Street, indicated he is in favor of this and thinks it would be beneficial to the community. 

 

Dennis Lindor, 210 West 7th Street, indicated he is in favor of this and is interested in seeing the buildings being used and there being improvements made to the property.

Hill indicated he feels the City Council would consider either adding a church as a conditional use in the I2 zone, or changing the zoning from I2 to CBD.  Hill indicated that once the Planning Commission makes this recommendation to the City Council, the Council will make the final decision.  At that time, the church can apply for a conditional use permit. 

Granger indicated the Comprehensive Plan Land Use Goal #4 says to redevelop the City’s core.  She feels this would be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan by improving the aesthetics of downtown Morris.

Ex-officio Miller indicated that because of the location of the property, if there were a business interested in the property, he would rather see that business there.  Johnson asked if there is any other property in the CBD that is available.  Hoffman indicated there are not many properties available in the CBD.  He indicated that he has had a couple of contacts that have asked him as a realtor to look into this property, so he feels that shows it is possible someone else might be interested in the property for a commercial use. 

Johnson indicated he is surprised the church would be interested in locating so close to a railroad track.  He indicated he would have a problem with eliminating options for business opportunities. 

Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Johnson, to recommend to the City Council that the land between West 5th Street and West 7th Street between Pacific Avenue and the railroad tracks from rezoned from I2 to CBD.  With four voting in favor and Commissioner Hoffman abstaining due to the contacts he has had with individuals interested in the property, motion carried.

Pat Franey of the Morris Community Church stated he feels changing the zoning to CBD is the most logical choice. 

OTHER BUSINESS:  Kuchenreuther informed the Planning Commission of three items they had asked about at a previous meeting:  1)  The final plat for Riley’s Commercial Lots north of Coborn's was approved by the City Council 3/28/06; 2) the land south of the Michaelson property that is not in city limits is owned by Riley Brothers, not UMM; and 3) Riley’s Riverside Townhomes Phase 1 was rezoned from MC to R on 3/22/05.

Granger asked when Riley Brothers are going to plant the trees in the Riverside Townhomes and Iowa Avenue Townhomes which was a condition when the plats were approved.  Hoffman indicated he will check into that.  He stated the outer perimeter on

the Iowa Avenue Townhomes is about done now.  He thinks Riley’s have intentions of putting trees in there. 

Hill indicated another issue is the flood zone in town.  He indicated a resident on the east side of town is looking to refinance and his finance company indicated he has to purchase flood insurance.  He feels Riley’s Riverview Townhomes is in a flood zone.  He indicated he feels the City will have to have the area surveyed to find out the 100-year flood area.  Kuchenreuther indicated the Planning Commission asked about a flood zone before the Riley’s Riverview area was rezoned, and they were told there is no flood designation. 

Kuchenreuther indicated climate change modeling indicates rainfall events will become more intense.  She suggested if a survey is done, the current level of 100-year floods and some of the signs of a 500-year flood should be understood.

Outdoor Woodburner Ordinance:    Kuchenreuther indicated she has no new information on this.

Stevens County Courthouse/Jail Issue:  Hill indicated he needs to know what the City will be requiring of the County in regard to their intention to add a jail to the Stevens County Courthouse.  He and the building official have met with the architects for the Courthouse project to discuss potential plans and requirements of the City Code.  Their discussion included setback requirements, parking, screening and other items required in a single and two family residence zone.  He indicated in his mind the biggest issue is whether the City will require them to obtain a conditional use permit.  He asked the Planning Commission’s stance on this issue.  He stated there used to be a jail at the courthouse, but now it is being used as a holding cell.  Hill has asked the City Attorney for his opinion on the conditional use permit issue.

Rudney indicated it seems to him they are going beyond the bounds of their building.  He feels there are a lot of complications to their plan. 

Hoffman indicated he feels the City Attorney should make the call on whether or not a conditional use permit would be required. 

Kuchenreuther indicated she doesn’t feel there has been any opportunity for the public to comment on this project.  She feels requiring the County to go through the conditional use permit process would allow the public to weigh in on this subject.  Hoffman indicated he feels it needs to be determined if legally a conditional use permit can be required. 

Miller indicated there is a 3D model of the proposed building. 

Kuchenreuther indicated it would be her preference to have someone knowledgeable about the project present information to the Planning Commission, let the Planning Commission consider the information, and then formulate its questions. 

Outdoor Woodburner Ordinance:  Hill explained the reason this was on the agenda is that the owner of the laundromat that has the outdoor woodburner has informed his neighbor that he will no longer use the outdoor woodburner during the summer months.

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Commissioner Hoffman moved, seconded by Johnson, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:35.

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