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MINUTES–PLANNING COMMISSION–REGULAR MEETING-NOVEMBER 17, 2009

The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 17th day of November, 2009, in the Council Chambers of the Morris Senior Citizens/Community Center by Chairperson Kuchenreuther.

CALL OF THE ROLL:  Roll call was taken with the following members present:  Commissioners Johnson, Carpenter, Gades, Granger, Rudney and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.   Commission Hoffman was absent.  Also present were ex-officio Miller and City Manager Hill.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 7/21/09 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Gades pointed out the second word in the second sentence of the last paragraph on the first page should be “eave” instead of “eve”.  Commissioner Carpenter moved, seconded by Gades, to approve the minutes with this correction.  Motion carried.

Commissioner Granger has two additions to the agenda: Courthouse Landscaping Report, and East 7th Street House Issue; and Chairperson Kuchenreuther has one addition:  House on East 2nd Street.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None.

OTHER BUSINESS:  Zoning:  City Manager Hill indicated he and a student from the high school that was job shadowing him marked and numbered all the proposed changes on the zoning map.  In doing so they came up with two questions.

The first has to do with the Highway Business (HB) zone.  Hill inquired if it should be a specified depth rather than an arbitrary depth.  A City block is 300’.  Granger indicated there are no requirements on lot size in the HB zone.  Kuchenreuther asked what the implications would be if someone wanted to build something bigger than the specified depth.  Hill indicated they would be required to get a variance.  Granger suggested looking at the plat for Coborn’s north of Highway 28.  Hill will look at that plat.  Granger indicated the MNDOT center line never moves so measurements can be set according to that center line.

The second question has to do with changing railroad right of way from I2 to I1.  It was proposed to make that change only north to Park Avenue.  Hill questioned if the I1 designation should extend all the way north to the end of the City’s zoning jurisdiction.  It was felt it should.  He also asked if the I1 should extend all the way south to the end of the City’s zoning jurisdiction.  It was felt it should extend south only until it meets with the existing I2.

Kuchenreuther suggested getting an electronic copy of the proposed zoning map to use for the public hearing.  Hill suggested meeting with the townships separately to discuss the proposed zoning changes.  He also suggested having 2-3 meetings on the proposed changes inside City limits because there will be a lot of properties affected by those changes.  Hill pointed out all affected property owners have to be given notice of the hearings.

Hill indicated it will be important for the Planning Commission to be able to explain at the public hearings reasons for any proposed changes.  Kuchenreuther suggested that members of the Planning Commission review the Codes prior to the hearings.

Wind Turbine:  City Manager Hill indicated the locations of the two wind turbines that were discussed at the July 2009 Planning Commission meeting have both changed.  Originally there was to be one on a hill by Pomme de Terre Park and one on the UMM campus by the horse barns.  Now, one turbine will be on WCROC property and the other in Pomme de Terre Park.  Hill indicated the University will have to lease a corner of the park from the City for the wind turbine.

Rudney asked how close the nearest residences are located to the wind turbines.  Hill indicated the closest is 2,400 feet. 

Granger did a lot of research on wind turbines and handed out a research summary paper she wrote.  Originally the nearest residence was 900’ from one of the wind turbines.  She was concerned about this and researched several agencies and cities in Minnesota regarding regulations.  She found that of the 1,300 wind turbines in Minnesota, none of this size are within city limits of a small town. 

Kuchenreuther indicated the new locations seem to be a good compromise.  She also asked if the City should start looking at model ordinances regarding wind turbines. 

Courthouse Landscaping Plan:  Granger handed out summary notes from a 9/14/09 meeting with City Manager Hill and Dave Schmidt, Stevens County Building Maintenance Supervisor, regarding the Courthouse landscaping plan.  She indicated they are going to screen the parking lot.  She also indicated they have not protected existing trees to avoid damage by compression and accidental equipment hits.  City Manager Hill will contact them regarding this. 

Duplex on East 7th Street:  Granger handed out pictures of the duplex at 617 East 7th Street.  She indicated she still has a problem with this in that there is no front yard – the entire front of the duplex is used for parking.  The City’s ordinances require a front yard and it cannot be a gravel parking lot.  The pictures show the front and back yards of the duplex.  The back yard is also a parking lot.  City Manager Hill indicated he will send a copy of the City Code regarding this to the owner of the duplex.

House on East 2nd Street:  Discussion was held regarding the house moved into town on East 2nd Street.  It was noted that in Benson, the City Council has to approve any building that is moved into the City.  Rudney indicated the City’s Building Official, Mike Jacobson, who also works in Benson, would be willing to meet with the Planning Commission regarding different building issues. 

Hill noted that the situation with the house on East 2nd Street is that the house moved in is in compliance with setback requirements.  It’s the two adjacent houses that are non-conforming in that they are both built on the property line. 

Granger indicated that even though a rental home is a business, the Code does not regulate it as a business.

Hill indicated another issue that should be addressed in the Code is the height of structures.  He stated in Benson they regulate the height from the curb to the front door. 

ADJOURNMENT:  Commissioner Johnson moved, seconded by Rudney to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:17.

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