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MINUTES  - PLANNING COMMISSION - REGULAR MEETING – MARCH 15, 2011

The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:17 p.m. this 15th day of March, 2011, 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 Granger, Livingston, Hoffman and  Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Commissioner Gades arrived at 5:30.  Commissioners Johnson and Rudney were absent.  Also present were ex-officio Miller and City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 2/15/11 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Hoffman moved, seconded by Livingston, to approve the minutes of the 2/15/11 regular meeting as presented.  Motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None.

OTHER BUSINESS:  Recommendation to City Council on Proposed Zoning Amendments, and Set Date for Public Hearing on Zoning Amendments:  Per City Code, the Planning Commission must make a recommendation to the City Council on the proposed zoning map amendments, and set a date for a public hearing on the proposed amendments.

Hill indicated the plan is to hold the public hearing on April 19, 2011.  He has checked into having the hearing at the high school, however, neither of the auditoriums is available for use that night.  His intent at this point is to have the hearing in the Council Chambers in the Senior Center, and open up the doors to the dining room for additional seating. 

He stated the address listing of properties affected by the proposed zoning map amendments around the perimeter of the City contains 250-270 names.  Public notices must be mailed to each owner of affected property within 300 feet of the property proposed to be amended.  Hill indicated a hearing for properties affected within the City limits will be held at a later date.

Hill indicated he will discuss the hearing and proposed zoning map amendments on the radio next week.  An article will also be run in the local newspaper.  Hill has also written a blog on this subject.  He feels it is important people understand the City is just changing the use of some properties, and is not proposing any annexations. 

Granger suggested using a portable PA system for the hearing.  Kuchenreuther feels the map should be projected onto a screen, and also suggested a map at the back of the room.  Hill wants to make sure people know they can come in to his office and discuss this with him.  Kuchenreuther suggested getting an article in the paper early. 

Hill feels the purpose of the hearing is to listen and answer questions. 

Miller indicated he feels it will help that Hill has talked to several of the township officials regarding the proposed amendments, and another official attended a Planning Commission meeting. 

Granger suggested including in the notices that the township chairs have talked to Hill regarding the proposed amendments.

Commissioner Hoffman moved, seconded by Gades, to forward to the City Council the proposed zoning map for their review and comment, and to schedule a public hearing for the proposed zoning amendments on the perimeter of the City on April 19, 2011 at 5:15 in the Council Chambers of the Morris Senior Citizens/Community Center.  Motion carried.

Granger asked if the City Council is aware of the upcoming hearing.  Hill indicated he has provided information to them in his City Manager Reports, and Miller indicated the City Council receives copies of the Planning Commission minutes, so they should be aware.

Variance Legislation Update:  Hill indicated the LMC legislation was amended and forwarded on by the auto dealers and big business.  The amendment was to remove local authority to place conditions on variances.  He does not feel this will work very well, and may result in a lot of variance requests being denied.

Kuchenreuther asked if this affects conditional use permits.  Hill indicated this is for variances. 

Zoning:  Hill indicated that when compiling the mailing list for the proposed zoning amendments, it became very apparent that any time a change in zoning is made, it’s a terrific effort and time consuming process to put together the mailing list.  The Planning Commission is proposing to change the zoning along the entire railroad corridor.  Public notices are required to be sent to every property owner within 300’ of that corridor.  Compiling the list of owners along the railroad alone will be very time consuming.  Hill asked if it really makes a difference if that zoning is changed.  Miller indicated he feels heavy industrial uses should be on the outskirts of town and not in the interior parts of town.  Kuchenreuther asked if it would be possible to just send notice to everyone in town and tell them they may or may not be affected by the proposed amendments.   Granger indicated these proposed zoning map amendments are setting the course of the City’s growth for the next 50 years.  Hill will check with the City Attorney on sending notices to every property in town regardless if they are affected or not.

Granger questioned what the implication is of changing someone’s property value through zoning.  She indicated state laws address upzoning or downzoning.  She stated

there is a policy statement on that and the Planning Commission should be aware of that before the hearing.

Churches:  Miller asked if there is any discussion of a new church on the south side of Morris.  Hill indicated there is no activity that he is aware of.  If a church, cemetery and houses are planned, the property must first be platted, and a conditional use permit would be required for the church.

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Commissioner Livingston moved, seconded by Granger, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:00.

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