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MINUTES – PLANNING COMMISSION – REGULAR MEETING – APRIL 19, 2011

The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 19th day of April, 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 Rudney, Livingston, Granger, Hoffman, Johnson, Gades, and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Also present were ex-officio Miller, City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill, and Mayor Giese.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 3/15/11 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:    Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Livingston, to approve the minutes of the 3/15/11 regular meeting as presented.  Motion carried unanimously.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  Zoning Amendments:  The purpose of this hearing is to consider zoning amendments to the City of Morris zoning map, more specifically the establishment of zoning districts within the Orderly Annexation Area (the 1/2 mile zone immediately outside the City limits) that was established through an agreement by the City of Morris, Stevens County and the townships of Darnen, Morris, Hodges and Framnas.

Chairperson Kuchenreuther explained this public hearing is on proposed zoning in the ½ mile area around the City.  At this public hearing, the Planning Commission will gather information about the proposed zoning, and no decisions will be made at this hearing.

City Manager Hill reviewed information on the proposed zoning.  He stated the City Code requires zoning by the Planning Commission, and an agreement with the County and the Townships of Morris, Framnas, Darnen and Hodges establishes the area being zoned and gives the authority to zone.  The City Code states the intent and purpose of this zoning is to protect public health, safety, comfort, convenience and general welfare.

Hill indicated the Planning Commission is responsible for the zoning and are to review and/or revise the comprehensive plan, prepare and recommend a City zoning map, prepare and recommend a zoning map for the Orderly Annexation Area, study future developments, and prepare and recommend a zoning plan.  He stated the Orderly Annexation Area is now zoned RF, and is designated by legal description.

Hill indicated the Comprehensive Plan states the zoning should support the compact and orderly growth of all urban development including residential, commercial and industrial.  Hill indicated the Orderly Annexation Agreement (OAA) was put into place to protect farmland so the City would not expand into farmland.  Hill noted that neither the City Council nor Planning Commission are planning any annexation at this time.

Hill stated this zoning is to strengthen coordination of urban and rural land use services between the City and County.  Another purpose of the zoning is to maintain adequate active and passive open spaces to meet community needs.

Hill indicated the purpose of the Orderly Annexation Agreement from November 16, 1978, is to provide land areas for the growth of the City of Morris and further to provide for the protection of agriculture lands within the adjacent townships from urban or suburban development and further control the development along highway access to the City of Morris in order to prevent uncontrolled strip development.

The Orderly Annexation Area is called the ½ mile area, but is not truly ½ mile, rather it is roughly ½ mile and described by legal description.  The Township Agricultural Holding Area is just outside the Orderly Annexation area and is controlled by the townships and County.  The Township Agricultural Land Area is just outside the Township Agricultural Holding Area and is controlled by the Townships and County.

Hill explained that all current uses of property are grandfathered in, to include the sale of those uses.  However, future uses may need to be approved, depending on the use.  Certain events can trigger the loss of grandfathering, including discontinuation of a use for an extended period of time, deterioration of the use that will require more than a 50% improvement, and destruction of the use by things like fire or natural disaster.  Hill pointed out a non-conforming use cannot be rebuilt.

Hill pointed out the only area being discussed tonight is the Orderly Annexation Area which is the roughly ½ mile area outside City limits.  Hill reviewed the proposed zoning in the OAA around the perimeter of the City.  The area northwest of the City is mainly proposed to be Farm Residence and Municipal Conservancy.  The area west/southwest of the City is mainly Municipal Conservancy with a small stretch of Highway Business by the lumber yard.  The area southeast of the City is industrial in nature, therefore the proposed zoning is Highway Business, Heavy Industrial, and Light Industrial with a small amount of Residential.  The area east of the City is mainly Farm Residence and Municipal Conservancy.  The area north/northeast of the City is Highway Business and Residential.  Hill pointed out the Planning Commission has proposed that the entire railroad property that runs through the City be zoned Light Industrial. 

Hill indicated the Planning Commission will make a recommendation to the City Council on the proposed zoning. 

Chairperson Kuchenreuther opened the public hearing at 5:50 p.m. 

Dale Greiner asked what the City can do on the Thedin property it acquired on the west side of Morris that is in the RIM program.  Kuchenreuther indicated it is proposed to be zoned Municipal Conservancy.  Hunting is allowed in the Municipal Conservancy as long as the property is outside City limits and the hunter follows DNR hunting

regulations.  Kuchenreuther indicated that property was put into the RIM program and then donated to the City.  RIM land is set aside for wildlife preservation.  Greiner indicated he owns property adjoining the City’s RIM land and asked why the Planning Commission is proposing to zone his land MC and put more restrictions on the land.  Kuchenreuther pointed out the RIM restrictions are more strict than the MC restrictions.   She stated the Planning Commission has tried to follow section lines to make for enforceable zoning.

Chuck Lesmeister, Morris Township Supervisor, asked if the wind turbines by the University are allowed.  Hill indicated he thinks they are in the MC district.  Kuchenreuther indicated they would be grandfathered in.  Hill stated that currently the City does not have regulations regarding wind turbines, but there is a structural height restriction. 

Paul Watzke, a Stevens County Commissioner and Planning Commission member, asked about the development of residential property and farmland.  Hill indicated under all designations, 2.5 acres are required in order to build a single family home.  In order to develop a residential subdivision, a person would have to first plat the area. 

Randy Wenz, Darnen Township, indicated he lives in Section 10.  He indicated he thinks his driveway is right on the section line, and asked if the City is going south of that line.  Hill indicated the line was designated in the Orderly Annexation Agreement of 1978. 

Ken Rausch, 20819 457th Avenue, indicated his house will be in the RF zone north of the Experiment Station.  He questioned how building permits will be handled in that area.  Hill indicated the permitting for the Orderly Annexation Area lies with the City. 

Chuck Lesmeister asked how livestock will be handled in the Orderly Annexation Area.  Kuchenreuther indicated if the area is zoned RF, livestock are a permitted use.  She indicated there are some setback restrictions on livestock in the MC zone.  Also huge feedlots with a lot of runoff would be a problem in the MC zone.  Lesmeister asked how an existing feedlot would be handled.  Kuchenreuther indicated that would be grandfathered in.  Lesmeister asked about the horses at the UMM.  Hill indicated the City is not allowed to control zoning on campus, the University does that.

Hill indicated the City Code, along with the proposed zoning map, is on the City’s website and invited the public to give him a call with any questions.  He indicated the City will take public comments on zoning until the next Planning Commission meeting May 17, 2011.

There being no further public comments, Kuchenreuther closed the public hearing at 6:10 p.m.  She thanked the citizens for coming to this meeting.

Commissioner Johnson left the meeting at 6:15.

Greiner questioned why the Planning Commission is proposing to zone his property MC.  He would like the map corrected and changed to RF for his grandkids.  Kuchenreuther indicated the Planning Commission will look at that area of the map.  Greiner wants to see a copy of the corrected map.

Hill indicated Bob Valnes called and asked him if he would be able to construct another commercial building for his business on his property.  Hill indicated the Valnes property is proposed to be zoned either MC or RF.  In the RF zone Valnes would not be allowed to construct a commercial building.  Valnes indicated the township has issued him a building permit in the past. 

Hill suggested that language be added in the City Code indicating that any hunting outside City limits but within the City’s zoning jurisdiction is allowed pursuant to DNR rules and regulations.  Hill also suggested the Planning Commission review and update the Comprehensive Plan in the next year.

OTHER BUSINESS:  Variance Legislation Update:  Hill indicated the Senate passed this out of committee, and he feels it should be out in the next few weeks.  He indicated he has had four variance requests this spring.  Rudney suggested rewriting the setback requirements for garages.

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Commissioner Gades moved, seconded by Rudney, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:35 p.m.

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