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MINUTES – PLANNING COMMISSION – REGULAR MEETING – AUGUST 19, 2008

The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 19th day of August 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 Gades, Granger, Carpenter, Rudney, Johnson and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Commissioner Hoffman was absent.  Also present were City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill and Ex-Officio Miller.

READING AND APPROVAL OF MINUTES:  6/17/08 Regular Meeting:  Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Carpenter, to approve the 6/17/08 regular meeting minutes as written.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

6/30/08 Work Session Minutes:  In the second to last paragraph, Commissioner Granger asked that the word “current” be inserted so that the sentence reads, “The current school property should be R.”  Commissioner Carpenter moved, seconded by Rudney, to approve the 6/30/08 work session minutes with the noted change.  Motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  Chouinard 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 Matt Chouinard, 22 Westwood Acres, legally described as Block 4, Lot 1 and East 48’ Lot 2 and East 8’ of West 27’ of Lot 2, Highland Homes First Addition, parcel number 20-1664-000.  This variance, if granted, would allow an addition to an attached garage within 6’ of the interior sideyard line.

City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill explained the property line is 16’ from the present garage.  Chouinards are proposing to add 10’ to their garage which would put the addition 6’ from the property line.  He stated there is a huge wide open space between the Chouinard home and the home to the west. 

Chouinard indicated he intends to expand the existing driveway and will have to bring in some fill to make it level with the existing garage. 

Rudney indicated that based on what the Planning Commission has approved on other properties, he does not see any issues with this request.  Rudney commented that there are a lot of houses on Westwood Acres that have single garages, but they are all closer together. 

Carpenter asked if the Planning Commission is obligated to approve other requests if this one is approved.  Hill indicated variance requests are all handled on a case by case basis because all circumstances are different. 

Johnson asked how big the lot is between Chouinard and the house to the west.  Chouinard indicated there are 16’ between his house and property line.  He estimates there would be 50’ or more to the next house. 

Commissioner Johnson moved, seconded by Rudney, to grant this variance request based upon a hardship of the property having only a 1 car garage.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Head Start Conditional Use Request:  This hearing is on a request for a conditional use as required in Section 11.24, Sub 2, C1 of the Morris City Code.  This request is by Morris Head Start for the property at 1001½ Scotts Avenue, legally described as 35 124 42 18.85, Pt. N½ SW¼ SE¼ Co. Sub. Div., parcel number 20-0042-005.  This conditional use, if granted, would allow a daycare center in an RM (Multiple Family Residence District) zone. 

Hill indicated when this application was made it was his understanding that the current daycare center located at the West Wind Village may not continue to operate, and Head Start was in the process of applying for a license from the State, and that is how the City got involved. 

Sue Dieter was present representing the Morris Area Child Care Center.  She stated the Morris Area Child Care Center has operated in the West Wind Village for the past 13 years.  Seven years ago they began collaborating with Head Start.  Earlier this year the Morris Area Child Care Center was not sure they had the wherewithal to continue.  At that time they notified Head Start and told them they should have their own license for operating.  Head Start is being licensed under the State Department of Human Services.  At this time the Morris Area Child Care Center will continue to operate.  She stated it would be a matter of two licenses under one roof.

Susan Olson, administrator of the West Wind Village, indicated they have passed all inspections.

Hill indicated he does not think there is a current conditional use permit for the daycare center.  Dieter indicated it was their recollection that a conditional use permit was part of the building permit process, however they cannot locate any paperwork on the application.

Commissioner Carpenter moved, seconded by Gades, to recommend approval of this conditional use permit with the condition that it meets State licensing standards.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

OTHER BUSINESS:  Tree Planting:  Commissioner Granger handed out information regarding tree planting along Highway 28.  She explained the Minnesota Design Team suggested tree planting along Highway 28 when they were in Morris about three years ago.  She explained that the City got a grant from MNDOT through the COPC project to plant trees, and they are looking for volunteers to help with the planting.  The planting will take place Saturday, September 20.

Elementary School Update:  Kuchenreuther asked about the old elementary school.  Hill indicated the architects are coming to Morris on Monday.  There are two architects – one will design the layout of the development, and the other will design three model home plans to be used for demonstration houses. 

Granger indicated there is a separate committee working on financing for the model houses and the affordability level so financing can be secured. 

Hill indicated the 10,000 gallon underground storage tank on the old school property will be removed in the next year or so.  He stated that ultimately the school building needs to be demolished.  There is asbestos that needs to be abated.  Granger indicated the school did abate some of the asbestos and it is her guess that about 80% of it is out of there.

Ex-officio Miller asked about a timeframe on reuse for the UMM dorm project.  Hill indicated it is his understanding that project has been put on hold.

Granger indicated the committee was also talking with an agency that takes buildings apart and reclaims the materials. 

Jail Issue:  Commissioner Rudney asked when the City expects a conditional use request for the jail at the Courthouse. 

Hill indicated it is his understanding that the architects are working to meet various requirements for the property so there won’t be any variance requests. 

Granger indicated she thought that if they were going to encroach on the neighborhood around the courthouse they should come to the Planning Commission.  Miller indicated it is his understanding they are talking about bringing more County departments back into the Courthouse. 

Granger asked if the County is still talking about demolishing a house for parking.  Hill indicated he thinks that is something they are looking at, along with vacating a road.  Granger indicated she is concerned about them demolishing a house in a solid residential neighborhood.  Hill indicated he will be meeting with the architects tomorrow.  He indicated they are still working on the design based on their space needs. 

UBC/Morris Community Church:  Rudney asked about the status of the UBC/Morris Community Church project.  Hill indicated the City hasn’t heard anything from the Church regarding a conditional use permit on this project.  Granger indicated she looked into one of the old buildings and the materials on the inside are in really great shape. 

Zoning Map:  Carpenter asked the status of the zoning map.  Hill indicated hopefully it will be ready by the next meeting.

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Johnson, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 5:50 p.m.

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