COMMISSION-REGULAR MEETING-SEPTEMBER 21, 2010
regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15
p.m. this 21st day of September, 2010, by Chairperson Kuchenreuther
in the Council Chambers of the Morris Senior Citizens/Community Center.
OF THE ROLL: Roll call was
taken with the following members present:
Commissioners Johnson, Granger, Rudney, Hoffman, Gades, and Chairperson
Livingston was absent. Also
present were City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill; Building Official Jacobson
and Ex-officio Miller.
AND APPROVAL OF 6/15/10 MINUTES:
Commissioner Gades indicated on the 1st page, 3rd
paragraph from the bottom, the words “wind turbine” should be changed to “solar
thermal unit for the RFC”. Kuchenreuther
indicated in the next paragraph, “everthingl” should be changed to
“everything”; the first sentence of the 4th paragraph on the 2nd
page should read, “Hill pointed out state code grandfathers in anything that
met Code at the time it was done”; in the next paragraph, the “i.e.” should be
changed to “e.g.”; and in the 2nd to last paragraph on page 2, the
last sentence should read, “This group was looking at the former Steve’s
Strawberries location on East 7th Street for a location for the
church…..”. Commissioner Rudney
moved, seconded by Gades, to approve the minutes of the 6/15/10 regular meeting
with the above-noted changes. With
all present voting in favor, motion carried.
TO AGENDA: Granger indicated
she has 2 additions to the agenda if there is time to address them following
the public hearings.
HEARINGS: Katherine A.
Benson 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’ side yard setback in a residential
(R) zone. This request is by
Katherine A. Benson, 612 West 5th Street, Morris, MN 56267, legally described as Block 2,
Lot 10, West Lake View Re-Ar Bk. 2 & 3, Parcel No. 20-1386-000. This variance, if granted, would allow
the addition of an attached double garage within 3 feet of the side yard
setback requirement of 10 feet.
Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill introduced Mike Jacobson, who is the Building
Inspector for the City of Morris.
Hill has asked Jacobson to help with zoning issues in the City. Jacobson works in Benson 3 days a week
and Morris 2 days a week.
indicated there has been a major change in how cities can address variances,
and it may affect one, if not both, of the variance requests on today’s
The State Supreme Court recently made a ruling that
severely limits municipal discretion in the granting of variances. Specifically, the Court’s decision changed
the statutory standard for granting zoning variances. The Court narrowly
interpreted the statutory definition of “undue hardship” and held that a
variance could only be issued in circumstances where there is not a reasonable
use of the property absent the grant of the variance. This is a much stricter
standard than previous court interpretations. Hill has discussed this with City Attorney Glasrud, and
Glasrud has indicated this will limit the City’s ability to grant
variances. Hill indicated the
League of Minnesota Cities is also looking into this ruling.
pointed out the Planning Commission discusses “hardship” every time a variance
is considered. Hill believes the
legislature will address this in the next session.
indicated the wall of the structure will actually be 5’ from the property line,
and the eave will be 4’ from the property line. She indicated she has 3 vehicles and cannot park them all in
a single car garage. Commissioner
Granger indicated the City ordinances only allow the Planning Commission to
grant variances if there is an undue hardship, not a mere inconvenience. She reiterated the Supreme Court is
much more strictly interpreting the “hardship” aspect.
indicated this really makes her angry.
She indicated she sees garages all over town that are 5’ from the
property lines. She feels this
will delay her project and increase her costs. Kuchenreuther indicated the Planning Commission’s hands are
tied on this. Jacobson pointed out
that attached and detached garage setbacks are different. Benson indicated she wants an attached
garage and a 4-season porch.
Granger reiterated that unless it can be proven there is no reasonable
use of the property without the variance, the Planning Commission cannot
legally approve this request.
indicated she feels the City should refund Benson’s $50.00 variance fee. Hill indicated that seems
LLP, Variance Request: This
hearing is for a zoning variance request from Section 11.23, Subd. 2 D 5 a of
the Morris City Code which requires a 25’ front yard setback in a residential
(R) zone. This request is by
Riverview, LLP, 26406 470th Avenue, Morris, MN 56267. The subject property address is 100 East 9th
Street, and the legal description is Block 24, Lot 7, Original Town, Parcel No.
20-0327-000. This variance, if
granted, would allow a home to be constructed 6 feet into the 25 foot front
yard setback requirement.
this is a corner lot, and setback requirements for both streets are 25’, Hill
believes this lot would not be able to be used without a variance. He discussed this with the City
Attorney and they both feel the Planning Commission could grant a variance in
indicated he received one call regarding this request. The caller asked about the length of
the driveway from the garage to the street, and felt a larger vehicle would
block the sidewalk if parked in the driveway. It was pointed out there will be an attached double garage
on this house. Kuchenreuther noted
the garage opens to Oregon Avenue and asked if it could open to the alley. Kevin Wulf, representing Riverview,
LLP, indicated they thought it would be more aesthetically pleasing opening to
Oregon Avenue. Granger indicated
she would be concerned about 19’ pickups being parked in the driveway and
extending into the sidewalk.
noted the setback establishes a green space corridor along the street, and
putting the garage to the alley preserves that green space. She also noted that in the winter the
snow in that vicinity is horrible.
Kuchenreuther indicated she feels having the garage open to the alley
keeps it more like the other homes in the area. Granger noted the City Code states off street parking spaces
have to be 20’, and feels another variance should be required for that. Rudney indicated the off street parking
requirements do not pertain to single family homes. Ex-officio Miller pointed out there are 2 parking spaces in
the double garage.
indicated she agrees this lot is essentially unusable without a variance, and
she feels it would be a lot better if the green space was preserved along the
Oregon façade. Jacobson suggested
one option would be to set the garage back 4’ with the garage to the street
side. Wulf pointed out they would
then need a variance on the east side of the property.
pointed out that according to the City Code, the front yard is described as the
shortest side of the lot, regardless of how a building is oriented on the
feels this home would add value to the neighborhood.
indicated she did find a house plan for a 20’ wide home that would fit on this
lot. Jacobson indicated he would
like to see the plan to see if it meets the Minnesota building code.
Gieselman, 16850 540th Avenue, indicated he was at this meeting for
Heinrich, 506 East 9th Street, asked about the overhang on the
home. Wulf indicated the 5’
setback is to the wall of the house, not the overhang. Jacobson indicated that typically
overhangs are allowed to encroach into the setback.
106 East 9th Street, indicated she has lived in this neighborhood
for 15 years and stated the alley by this proposed home is very difficult in
the winter with a lot of snow. She
feels it would be better to have the driveway to the Oregon Avenue side. In the winter if anyone gets stuck in
the snow, it’s in the area of this alley.
Granger moved, seconded by Rudney, that the Planning Commission finds no
reasonable use for this lot without a variance because of the fact this is a corner
50’ lot and setbacks are 25’ on each side on a corner lot. With all present voting in favor,
Gades then moved, seconded by Rudney, to grant this variance as proposed. With all present voting in favor,
BUSINESS: Granger asked if a
task force was going to be established to review rental property issues.
asked the status of the house on East 7th Street by the Salvation
Army that has no front yard because it is used as a parking lot. She asked why they do not have to
conform to the City Code. Hill indicated
he questions how the City can make that owner make that change now that the
parking lot is there. Kuchenreuther
indicated language in the Highway Business District section of the code
indicates no front yard shall be required except that on every lot in the
district the front of which is directly opposite any of the classes of
residential districts (across the street) there shall be a front yard of not
less than 25 feet which shall not be used to provide off-street parking or
loading spaces. Miller asked if
there is parking in the back of the building. Granger indicated there is parking provided there. Miller asked if someone could talk to
the owner about this. Granger
indicated that by allowing this, the City is setting a precedent.
indicated he feels the issue is when looking at all the codes in their
entirety, one will find a lot of things that are done wrong, and questioned if
the City should go back and correct those things. Granger indicated she feels as issues are brought up they
should be addressed, and she has repeatedly asked about this situation, and
feels it should be addressed. Hill
indicated he is not sure how to go back and try to enforce the parking
indicated it is likely Denco II will be going through the conditional use
permit process because they never got one when the plant was originally started
asked if a checklist should be followed when a building permit is issued. He suggested having property owners
sign a statement when they get a building permit that states they will follow
all ordinances. Jacobson indicated
his opinion is that an action without enforcement is of no value.
was held on various rental issues.
Granger reiterated she feels a task force should be formed to study
various issues. Hill indicated
there is currently a Rental Housing Commission. Granger indicated Melanie Fohl, who administers the City’s
rental housing code, has said the Rental Housing Commission works more on
relationships between renters and owners.
Jacobson asked what the charge would be for a task force. Granger indicated the Planning
Commission has talked so many times about issues and she feels this would be a
way of dealing with rental issues.
Hill indicated the Code addresses many issues including unit
requirements, space requirements, etc.
Granger indicated she feels the rental units have a real impact on the
City of Morris.
asked about the timeframe for the zoning hearings and the work session that is
going to be held before the zoning meetings. Hill indicated he is working on the property owner
listing. Kuchenreuther indicated
if there are no hearings for the October meeting the work session could be held
indicated the Courthouse project is wrapping up. Granger indicated she has talked with Dave Schmidt, Facility
Operations Director for Stevens County, regarding tree planting.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 6:40 p.m.