MINUTES – PLANNING
COMMISSION – REGULAR MEETING – JULY 21, 2009
The regular meeting of the
Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:16 p.m. this 21st
day of July, 2009, 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,
Carpenter, Rudney, and Chairperson Kuchenreuther. Commissioner Hoffman arrived
at 5:20 p.m. Commissioners Granger and Johnson were absent. Also present was
City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill and ex-officio Miller.
READING AND APPROVAL OF
MINUTES: 5/19/09 Regular Meeting Minutes: Commissioner Gades
moved, seconded by Rudney, to approve the 5/19/09 regular meeting minutes.
PUBLIC HEARINGS: Koehl
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 Chris Koehl,
807 Park Avenue, legally described as Block 1, South 60’ Lot 3 & East 60’
and South 60’ Lot 8, Sutherland Addition, parcel number 20-0837-000. This variance,
if granted, would allow an addition of an attached garage within 2’ of the
interior sideyard line.
Zoning Administrator Hill
stated notices were sent out to all affected property owners within 300’ and no
calls or concerns were received. Hill indicated the property is not really
marketable with a one car garage, but there would be no room to access the
backyard. Hill explained there are some offset double car garages to the north
but that would make snow removal more difficult. Hill pointed out the front
yard setbacks are pretty standard and the garage wouldn’t be moved up any
further. Chairperson Kuchenreuther stated it is already a nonconforming
Commissioner Gades asked
if the tree in the front yard would be preserved. Kuchenreuther suggested it
would be nice if there was a creative way to conserve the tree, but noted it was
an elm so it may come down eventually anyway. Koehl agreed it would be nice to
save the tree.
Rudney asked if the new garage
would go in place of the existing garage. Koehl stated it would. The property
is also for sale. Hoffman stated from a realtor’s perspective the project is
needed in order to sell the house. Koehl explained with regard to access to
the back yard, there is currently a drive through door in the rear of the
Gades stated he had no
problem granting the variance as it is currently nonconforming.
Koehl noted the current
face of the garage is set back, but would be made even with the house. The eave
would be to the front with room for a loft or some storage in the top. Kuchenreuther
indicated it might be interesting to have the roof line back a little further,
plus give more of an opportunity to save the tree.
Commissioner Gades 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
OTHER BUSINESS: UMM
– Potential Wind Generators: Lowell Rasmusson was present at the meeting
for an informational presentation as to what they’re thinking about with plans
for additional wind turbines. Rasmusson indicated originally there was a plan
to help finance a wind turbine near Callaway by Detroit Lakes that would have
been co-owned by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. The proposed turbines are part
of the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds program and must be issued by December 31st.
Rasmusson stated since the
Callaway project has fallen through they are moving to Plan B to salvage the
CREBs bonds, which is to build a second turbine near the one operating at the
West Central Research and Outreach Center and a third one on the north edge of
the UMM campus. The Mille Lacs Band would remain a co-owner on the third
turbine but would not receive power from it.
Rudney asked if Otter Tail
Power was concerned about the additional turbines. Rasmusson noted they are
currently waiting for a study from Otter Tail Power as to what the impact of
three turbines would be on their power grid.
Rasmusson stated another
turbine could not be placed at WCROC because each one submitted for CREBs
funding had to have a separate address. The logical answer was then to put one
on the UMM campus. Rasmusson indicated this one would certainly be much closer
to the city than the one that is there but believes it meets all the site
conditions. Rasmusson explained a letter was sent to residents on Line Drive informing
them that if they go forward with the additional turbines a public meeting
would be held to take comments.
Rasmusson stated they
wanted the city to be aware of this because being a green campus is important
to them. Rasmusson stated they hope to be one of first campuses to produce
more energy than they use. This venture also coincides with the Stevens
Forward initiative and meets UMM’s sustainable campus goals. Rasmusson
explained because they would be producing more energy then they use, that also
means they would be selling it. Rasmusson indicated one of the things that
Morris is moving toward is understanding the area’s natural resources and the need
to use those to replace losses from the state. Rasmusson stated UMM needs to
hold down costs and figure out how to be more sustainable in an economic
situation. Rasmusson noted they also understand they need to be a good neighbor
and as they proceed down this path to hopefully do a good thing for the
Rasmusson suggested that
the planning commission Google the town of Gussing, Austria. This country was
on the verge of defaulting and now claims to produce more energy than they use.
Rasmusson noted there is already a steady parade of people coming through the
campus to look at what they’re doing.
Rudney asked about the downside
to having the turbines. Rasmusson indicated noise is the most significant
factor but they are confident they fall under the state limit of 50 decibels.
Carpenter asked why the
University picked this particular site on the campus. Rasmusson stated it is
the highest elevation the University has.
Kuchenreuther asked what
the sound measurements were. Rasmusson stated they average right around 48.
Zoning Administrator Hill
asked about the sewer ponds for a location. Rasmusson stated that would be a
great location but the campus has it’s own distribution grid which is parallel
to investor owned utilities who want it tied to UMM. Rasmusson stated if DENCO
was up and running Morris would be very close to a community that produces more
energy than it uses.
Rasmusson showed the
commission a picture of the proposed turbines. Rasmusson stated the worst case
scenario for noise from the turbines would be when the ground level is
absolutely still. Then there isn’t the noise masking or background noise from
other sources. If that becomes a problem, the University is open to mitigating
that. Hoffman noted it may not be as noxious as some of the other noises, such
as the trains.
Hoffman stated personally he
doesn’t feel the area can afford not to do something like this. Rasmusson
stated with regard to the CREBs, they are at risk of losing $3.6 million of 0%
money which has to be paid back over 13 years. Rasmusson explained the turbines
have to spin to generate revenue and would barely cash flow for the first 12-13
years until they are paid off. At that point the revenue streams should be in
the neighborhood of $300,000 to $400,000 a year.
Kuchenreuther asked about
the longevity of turbines. Rasmusson stated banks are comfortable with financing
them for 20-25 years. Rasmusson stated they don’t exactly know the longevity because
none have been running for that long.
Miller asked if turbine #2
would definitely be put up. Rasmusson stated that one would be done for sure,
since it is only owned by the University. Miller indicated he thinks the city
needs to be behind this as much as possible. Rasmusson asked that if the city
received any feedback they pass the information along so any problems could be
Rasmusson stated if
everything falls into place it would go to the Regents in September. Rasmusson
explained there is a very narrow window of opportunity for when they can get
the turbines. Rasmusson stated when the stock market melted, funds for the development
of wind systems went south and all the development money dried up. Suddenly
there were a bunch of cancellations, so since October of last year the
companies have been contacting them. Rasmusson stated there are no fire sales
but they are at least back in the price range where they feel they can make
them cash flow. Rasmusson stated the bad news is that the stimulus money has a
timeline and by January turbine prices will go up again.
Rasmusson stated he would
keep the city updated as to what their next step would be.
asked about the lighting and landscaping for the courthouse remodel. Hill
indicated that the county is still trying to figure out the plan up there. Rudney
expressed concern that the sally ports would be off of 5th Street. Hill
stated they would not be in that direction, they would be towards the parking
lot. Rudney asked if the Planning Commission would see a revised plan. Hill
anticipated that it would not have to come back to the commission but indicated
he could get a copy of the final plans once they are completed.
being no further business, Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Carpenter, to
adjourn. Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:11 p.m.