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MINUTES – PLANNING COMMISSION – REGULAR MEETING – JUNE 21, 2011

The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 21st day of June, 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 Johnson, Granger, Gades, Hoffman, Rudney, Livingston and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Also present was City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill.  Ex-officio Miller was absent.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 5/17/11 REGULAR PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING MINUTES:  Chairperson Kuchenreuther indicated she feels that on page 2, the second sentence of the second paragraph which reads, “There will also be a signature block at the bottom of the maps once they have been approved.” should read, “There will also be signature blocks at the bottoms of the maps once they have been approved.”  Kuchenreuther also suggested the word “amount” in the fourth sentence of the 3rd paragraph on the second page should be changed the “distance”.  Commissioner Granger moved, seconded by Rudney, to approve the minutes of the 5/17/11 regular Planning Commission meeting with the 2 changes noted above.  Motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  Halbe Variance Request:  This hearing is on a request for a zoning variance from Section 11.23, Subd. 2 D 5 h of the Morris City Code which establishes a non-standard setback requirement based upon the average of all existing buildings when more than 30 percent of the frontage on the side of the street right-of-way is greater or lesser an amount than the normal 25’ front yard setback in a residential (R) zone.  This request is by Steve Halbe, 326 South Columbia Avenue, Morris, MN  56267, legally described as Lot 14 and the North 10 feet of Lot 15, Block 5, Elles University Addition, Parcel No. 20-1595-000.  If granted, this variance would allow a garage addition to be constructed approximately 9 feet into the non-standard front yard setback established by the rule in Section 11.23, Subd. 2 D 5 h.

Hill noted this is an interesting request in that typically the Planning Commission is addressing a side yard setback of 10’ or a front yard setback of 25’.   Hill determined this request is about 9’ into the non-standard front yard setback, or about 3’ into the 25’ setback.  Hill indicated the present garage is 20’ wide by 24’ deep, which is not able to house 2 cars in this day and age.

Hill indicated notices were sent to all property owners within 350’ of this property, and he has not heard from anyone regarding the request. 

The proposed garage would extend 24’ in front of the existing garage.  Commissioner Granger asked if the new garage could be moved back into the current garage a few feet so that it wouldn’t extend so far into the front yard.  Halbe indicated in order to do that he would have to re-do the entire support structure of the roof.  Presently the

MINUTES – PLANNING COMMISSION – REGULAR MEETING – JUNE 21, 2011

garage has a gable that faces the neighbor.  With the addition Halbe would propose to construct a gable that faces the street.  Granger indicated she viewed this area and does not feel Halbe’s request would have a negative impact visually on the neighborhood.

Previously there had to be an undue hardship present in order for the Planning Commission to grant a variance.  There is a recent change to the law, and now there needs to be a practical difficulty in order to grant a variance.  Hill indicated he feels the practical difficulty in this situation is not being able to build a standard double garage.  He pointed out Halbe does not want to build closer to his sideyard property line because he wants to maintain access to his back yard. 

Rudney indicated his initial concern was to keep the straight line of houses along that street, but there is a huge evergreen that breaks up that sight line.  Hill noted there is a lot of landscaping and many trees in that visual line.  Rudney added that he does not feel the addition would block the street view.

Kuchenreuther asked if it would be possible for Halbe to make the garage a little less deep because they would have the old garage for storage.  Halbe indicated he has actually scaled down the size from what he originally wanted.  He indicated his pick up truck is 21’ long. 

Commissioner Johnson indicated he feels the request is reasonable.  Commissioner Johnson then moved, seconded by Rudney, to approve this variance as requested.  Motion carried unanimously.

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Commissioner Hoffman moved, seconded by Johnson, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 5:38.

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