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MINUTES – PLANNING COMMISSION  -  REGULAR MEETING – MAY 17, 2011

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

READING AND APPROVAL OF 4/19/11 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  The Commissioners praised Deputy Clerk Anderson for doing a great job on the minutes. Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Livingston, to approve the 4/19/11 regular meeting minutes.  Motion carried

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None

OTHER BUSINESS:  Zoning of Orderly Annexation Area:  Hill stated the next step in the process is to recommend a zoning plan to the city council.  There have been a couple questions raised with regard to farmland and Hill’s recommendation is that the areas in question be changed.

Commissioner Kuchenreuther indicated she drove out and took a look at the area and felt that everything did rise and become farmland.  Rudney stated he thought the reasoning it was set that way was because the commission was looking at section or half section lines.  Kuchenreuther pointed out it follows more of the wetland boundary. 

Kuchenreuther stated it is hard to see the area behind Keyrow and the Villa but it appears to be a whole bunch of cottonwoods and standing water.  The section just west of White’s looks dry.  Miller noted there may be a little more water than normal because an outlet was blocked but it’s still a wet area.  Hoffman indicated most people have encroached upon this area and made their own parks.

Kyle Greiner arrived at the meeting. 

Livingston asked since farming is permitted in a municipal conservancy zone, what would be the ramifications of changing it from farmland to municipal conservancy.   Granger read the purpose of a municipal conservancy district from the City Code is as follows:  The MC District is provided to protect the integrity of sensitive natural resources and aesthetic beauty of the natural areas in and around the City of Morris, while at the same time provide the opportunity for compatible use and development of land within the District.  Hill stated if it is just farmland it doesn’t meet that definition. 

Commissioner Hoffman moved, seconded by Gades, to recommend that the map of the 1/2 mile Orderly Annexation Area be presented to the City Council including the following changes: the area around the south side of Crystal Lake should be properly marked as Municipal Conservancy, the approximate 1/8 section of land owned by Dale Greiner just west of the City Limits should be changed from Municipal Conservancy to Farm Residence, the four approximate 1/16 sections of land owned by Dale Mathison and one approximate 1/16 section of land owned by Michael White just west of the City Limits along an approximate north/south line and north of West 8th Street should be changed from Municipal Conservancy to Farm Residence.  Motion carried.

Hill explained he has met with the map maker from WSN and they will be filling in the plats on the map that has been developed.  There will also be signature blocks at the bottoms of the maps once they have been approved.  A map will be printed showing just the ½ mile area as well. 

Variance Legislation:  Hill stated the variance legislation passed by 100% of the votes in the House and the Senate.  This legislation changes the terminology for granting a variance from “undue hardship” to “practical difficulties”.  Hill indicated the commission needs to look at whether or not the code should be changed to address why people are asking for variances.  Hill noted the City of Benson has a rule in place that two structures have to be a certain distance apart and for them it's only 6 feet.  Hill stated Morris’ is 20 feet and in a nonstandard lot it's a percentage.  Hill stated there are potentially five variance requests coming up on garage type projects.  Rudney asked about fire code requirements with having structures so close together in Benson.  Hill stated they do have requirements in place. 

Hill stated there are a lot of garages out there that are small.  Hoffman noted the city may be approaching a point where a lot of them have been changed.  Rudney mentioned there are a number of garages that are in terrible shape.  Hill indicated the city would have to start taking some action on those.  Kuchenreuther asked if Kathy Benson was called and Hill stated he would contact her about her variance request

Zoning Amendment:  Hill explained the notice requirement for the update to the zoning maps will include amendments to the zoning ordinance.  Hill indicated notice could be given by publishing notice in the newspaper with an explanation of the changes and a map, mailing notice to everyone in the city with an explanation and a map, or giving notice to the affected property owners within 350 feet of each change.  Commissioner Gades asked if the notice could be put in water bills.  Hill doesn’t believe that would qualify as a notice.  Hill noted along with the zoning changes there are some other issues that have come up that should maybe be included such as wind turbines and wells.    

Miller asked about height restrictions for wind turbines.  Granger asked if farm animals and wind turbines were more of a comprehensive plan change.  Hill believes it is a code change but stated the comprehensive plan should be reviewed.  Kuchenreuther brought up the fact that in the comprehensive plan it says there should be graded size garbage cans.  Kuchenreuther pointed out garbage pick up went from two times a week to once a week and recycling stayed the same.  Hill pointed out the answer to recycling is educating people on how to recycle.  The major cost in garbage pick up is getting the truck to go by the houses and volume is the smaller cost.  Hill stated the garbage contract is coming up for renewal so these things could be discussed.  Kuchenreuther asked about the ability to recycle more things.  Rudney indicated sorting then becomes an issue too. 

The consensus of the commission was that it would be best to send a zoning notice to everyone in town but there probably would not be a lot of people that show up at a public hearing.  Kuchenreuther suggested having the meeting with the hearing in September because many people may be gone in August.    

Hill stated an inconsistency in the code is that houses are called different things throughout, such as structures or dwellings. 

Hill indicated he would draft a notice with a description of the zoning changes.  Granger asked if the changes could be put on the city’s website also.    

Chickens:  Hill explained to the group the discussion that was had about chickens at the last council meeting.  A citizen has requested that she be allowed to have chickens in city limits and it is not allowed according to City Code.  The council will be looking at the issue again at their next meeting. 

Courthouse Planting:  Granger noted as part of the planting at the new courthouse there are still some things missing which they were required to have.  Rudney asked if the county planned to leave the big sign up that is on the end of Colorado Avenue.  Hill indicated the sign was there because they had a problem with people driving right up on the curb.

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Chairperson Kuchenreuther adjourned the meeting at 6:18 p.m.

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