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MINUTES – PLANNING COMMISSION – REGULAR MEETING – OCTOBER 21, 2008

The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 21st day of October, 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 Hoffman, Carpenter, Johnson, Granger, Gades, Rudney, and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Also present was City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 9/16/08 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Johnson, to approve the minutes of the 9/16/08 meeting as submitted.  Motion carried unanimously.

PUBLIC HEARING:  Timmerman Variance Request:  This hearing is on a request for a zoning variance request from Section 11.70, Sub 25 D 1 (j) of the Morris City Code which allows two advertising signs per premises.  This request is by Terry Timmerman dba KTM Billboards, lessee.  Variance request address is 1100 Atlantic Avenue, Morris, MN  56267.  This variance, if granted, would allow three advertising signs at one premises. 

Hill indicated presently there are two 12’ X 25’ signs at this location.  The owner of the property does not want those signs anymore and has worked out a deal with Timmerman which would be to erect three 8’ X 16’ signs.  The zoning ordinance only allows two advertising signs per premises.  The three smaller signs would have a smaller total footage than the two larger signs.  Also, the new signs would not be as high in the air as the current signs. 

Rudney indicated the proposed signs look a lot less intrusive than the current signs.  He asked about dark sky compliant lighting. 

Timmerman is proposing the signs be 8’ off the ground, making them 16’ high at the top.  Timmerman hopes they will not extend above the roof line of the Arctic Cat building behind the sign.

Timmerman indicated the lighting shines downward.  Granger asked what the lighting looks like.  Timmerman indicated it would be two fluorescent bulbs – one 8’ long and one 4’ long with one continuous formed metal guard.  He indicated he has received a lot of really good public feedback from his billboards.  He feels he is bringing something positive to the community. 

Granger indicated that about a year ago she heard a comment from someone that felt there were too many new billboards in town.  Timmerman indicated this is the final billboard he intends to erect in this community.  He stated there are not many more permittable locations in the City of Morris. 

Granger asked why he can’t just put up two signs and be within the Code requirements.  Timmerman indicated he could but his rationale is that the present billboard has two signs but is 600 square feet.  His proposed three signs would only be 384 square feet.  Hoffman indicated most billboards are on highways and are designed to be seen quite a ways away.  He feels the smaller ones would look a lot better than the larger signs. 

Johnson indicated the Planning Commission usually takes aesthetics into consideration. 

Commissioner Hoffman moved, seconded by Johnson, to approve this variance request based on the fact it’s a peculiar situation in town and the Planning Commission feels the ordinance needs revision.  Motion carried unanimously.

Krosch/Dairy Queen Variance Request:  This item has been removed from the agenda. 

OTHER BUSINESS:  Trees:  Granger indicated 6 months ago she brought up the issue of trees being planted at the Iowa Avenue and Riverview Townhome developments.  One of the conditions of the conditional use permits granted for these developments was that trees be planted in the developments. 

Front Yard:  Granger indicated the new duplexes at 617 East 7th Street have no front yard, just gravel for parking.  According to City Code they are not allowed to use the front yard for parking.  She feels this is just an oversight and feels the parking could go in the back, off the alley.  It is the feeling of the Planning Commission that the City should contact the property owner regarding this.  Hill will contact the owner.

Zoning Map:  It was the consensus of the Planning Commission to continue work on the zoning map at the next meeting.  Hill indicated it appears the City will have to give notice to any owners affected by any changes in the zoning map, therefore it will take some time to determine those owners.  Granger indicated she feels the Planning Commission should have clear justification for all the changes.  Also, she feels the ½ mile zoning jurisdiction on the proposed map is actually larger than that in some areas. 

Courthouse and Old Elementary School:  Rudney asked the status of the Courthouse project and the old elementary school.  Hill indicated the County may come to the City Council shortly and explain where they are in their planning.  It appears a conditional use permit will be required for the jail, and possibly a variance on lot coverage.  The plan is to purchase an adjacent property and some property from the church to be used for parking.  It appears there will be a 25’ setback from all sides of the Courthouse. 

Hill indicated he had a meeting last week with architects on the old elementary school project.  Kuchenreuther suggested the City Council and Planning Commission both attend the next meeting on the old elementary school.  Granger indicated the next meeting will be a major design review before the final design is finished.  The landscape architect has designed the entire site, and an architectural firm is developing three model homes.  The recommendation of the housing study on the number of the homes on that site was used in development of the plans.  Kuchenreuther indicated the architects are trying to hit a price point of $100,000 to start.  She feels it is important for the Planning Commission to attend the next meeting on November 19 at 5:15 to have a final say in the design. 

ADJOURNMENT:  Commissioner Johnson moved, seconded by Rudney, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:15.

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