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MINUTES – PLANNING COMMISSION – REGULAR MEETING – MAY 20, 2008

The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 20th day of May, 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 Carpenter, Johnson, Granger, Hoffman, Gades, Rudney and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Also present were ex-officio Miller and City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill.

Chairperson Kuchenreuther welcomed the newest member of the Planning Commission, Victor Gades, and thanked him for his willingness to serve on the Commission.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 4/15/08 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Granger pointed out that on the third page of the minutes, in the first item under “Other Business”, the date the final plat for Riley’s Commercial Lots north of Coborn’s was approved by the City Council was not 3/28/08 as stated in the minutes; rather it was approved 3/28/06.  Commissioner Granger moved, seconded by Rudney, to approve the minutes of the 4/15/08 regular meeting with the above change.  With six voting in favor and Commissioner Carpenter abstaining, motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  Stallman Variance Request:  This hearing is for a zoning variance request from Section 11.23, Subd. 2 D 5 (c) of the Morris City Code which requires a 10’ sideyard setback in a residential (R) zone.  This request is by Kevin Stallman, 17 Thomas Street, legally described as Block 6, West 6’ Lot 12, and all Lot 13 and East 4’ Lot 14, Elles University Addition, parcel number 20-1612-000.  This variance, if granted, would allow an addition to a house within 4’ of the interior sideyard line. 

Zoning Administrator Hill handed out a picture of the site.  He explained the sideyard setback in the R zone is 10’.  The Stallmans would like to expand their 1-car garage into a 2-car garage.  He indicated he received no complaints regarding this request.  He did receive one telephone call for clarification of the project.  Hill indicated he visited with the neighbor to the east of this property and they indicate they have no problems with the request, and in fact have the same situation on their lot. 

Stallman indicated Marihart Surveying of Montevideo placed the property line stakes that are seen on the picture. 

Rudney indicated that in light of what has been allowed in the past, he would be willing to approve this as he feels it would improve the neighborhood and make the house more livable.  Carpenter indicated she feels if these types of requests are going to be approved, then the ordinance needs to be changed. 

Kuchenreuther questioned the reason for granting the variance.  Johnson suggested it would be because of the size of the lot. 

Granger indicated it seems to her that one-car garages were standard when this neighborhood was developed and now they are not functional. 

Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Hoffman, to approve this variance based upon a hardship to the owner due to the limitation of a one-car garage.  With six voting in favor and Carpenter voting against, motion carried. 

OTHER BUSINESS:  Courthouse Remodel and Jail:  Zoning Administrator Hill indicated it appears City Attorney Glasrud will recommend that the County apply for a conditional use permit for the courthouse remodel and jail.

Granger indicated that when the Planning Commission met with the architects regarding the courthouse remodel and jail, the following issues were discussed:  setbacks, height, parking – both on and off site, green space and mature tree preservation, location of delivery entrances, location of public entrances, bike racks, quality of exterior finishes, bird crashes on large windows, exterior lighting and landscaping – both building and parking lot, and back-door like appearance of north elevation.  Granger noted that since the Planning Commission met with the architects, it appears the prisoner delivery area has been moved, along with removing the parking area on the east side. 

Brief discussion was held on parking issues and appearance issues of the project. 

Zoning:  It was the consensus of the Planning Commission to hold a work session on Monday, June 16, 2008 at 5:15 p.m. to finish the work on the zoning map. 

Issues Regarding Green Neighborhood Development on Old School Property:  Kuchenreuther explained that the committee working on the development of the old school property is working on developing a green area on those 17 acres.  She indicated RFPs went out to architects and landscape architects seeking bids to be the company to develop the plans for the green housing development.  At the last meeting of the committee, Kuchenreuther indicated one of the things that came up is if this is a green neighborhood, one might argue that the City’s standard lot size of 9,000 square feet and the present setback requirements might not be the way to go with shared green space and other green things.  This area is zoned RM.  Kuchenreuther checked into this area being a Planned Unit Development (PUD), but feels that because of certain provisions of the PUD, it doesn’t look like that will work.

Rudney asked if the area could be rezoned and given features of a PUD.  Hill noted some requirements of the green housing project could be covered in covenants. 

Issues Regarding Green Neighborhood Development on Old School Property: 

Granger indicated she is the only person on the committee that is not in favor of the small lots that go with building green. 

Hill indicated a landscape architect has asked him if the Planning Commission is committed to the green design concept, as that will be important.  Kuchenreuther suggested Planning Commission members think philosophically about this because it will be a question for designers.  Miller indicated the City needs to make a commitment on this and stick to it. 

Hoffman indicated his only concern with green development is that it is so vague and it will change.  Kuchenreuther indicated there are a number of design standards for green development, and the committee has to decide what is “green” and what is “affordable”. 

Outdoor Woodburner:  Hill has suggested in a memo several alternatives for the woodburning ordinance.  Those alternatives include banning them altogether, or severely restricting them by putting into place setback requirements that would prevent them from affecting adjacent property owners.  Kuchenreuther hopes to have her research on woodburners done for the next meeting.

Rezoning:  Recently the City rezoned an area around the old UBC property on Pacific Avenue.  Granger questioned if the entire area should have been rezoned CBD.  This will be considered when the Planning Commission works on the zoning map. 

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Commissioner Carpenter moved, seconded by Hoffman, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:08.

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