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MINUTES–REGULAR MEETING–PLANNING COMMISSION–FEBRUARY 21, 2012

The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:17 p.m. this 21st day of February, 2012, in the Council Chambers of the Morris Senior Citizens/Community Center by Commissioner Hoffman.

CALL OF THE ROLL:  Roll call was taken with the following members present:  Commissioners Gades, Granger, Livingston and Hoffman.  Chairperson Kuchenreuther and Commissioner Rudney were absent.  Also present were ex-officio Miller and City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 1/17/12 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Granger moved, seconded by Gades, to approve the minutes of the 1/17/12 regular meeting as written.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None.

OTHER BUSINESS:  Evangelical Free Church Information:  City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill indicated Evangelical Free Church is looking at expanding, and before they go ahead with any more planning, they wanted to get input from the Planning Commission.  The Church is interested in expanding to the east, and would be within 10’ of their property line.  The required setback is 25’.  This expansion would go toward the platted, yet undeveloped, extension of Scotts Avenue to the south.  Hill noted that potentially in the future, someone might want to develop the area around the extended Scotts Avenue.

Joel Flaten, representing the Evangelical Free Church, handed out aerial photos of the church and surrounding property.  He stated that presently there is 60’ between the Church and the East property line.  One of Flaten’s handouts notes a septic system under the proposed addition.  Livingston asked about that septic system.  Flaten indicated if they are allowed to add to the East, that septic system would be abandoned and the Church would connect to the City’s sewer system.

The Church owns the property south of the Church, all the way to the old Alberta road.   Granger indicated her first reaction to this request is that it does not seem right to infringe on the setback by 15’ when the Church owns all the property to the South.  She feels the open space would be a nice spot for future houses.  Ex-officio Miller agreed.

Flaten indicated the first choice of the Church is to build about 4,000 square feet on to the sanctuary to the East towards Scotts Avenue.  If they are not allowed to do that, they will have to move the sanctuary, and he estimates the cost could be an additional $500,000. 

Gades asked if there has been any thought given to extending Scotts Avenue to the South.  Hill indicated the extension of Scotts Avenue has not been considered by the City.  Hill indicated no one has requested that Scotts Avenue be extended.  If it were to be extended, the City would assess the costs of the extension.

Gades indicated he does not see any problem with this request.  Livingston asked if the City would ever abandon the platted extension of Scotts Avenue.  Hill indicated the City might consider that. 

Granger indicated in the last zoning review it was discussed that this area was an ideal place to develop lots.  Hoffman indicated he would be a little concerned allowing this, as he feels it could have some impact on future development.  Hill pointed out there are no houses on the Church (west) side of the street, so there are no sight line issues.  The Cannon family has a large strawberry patch across Scotts Avenue from the Church.  Hoffman indicated by adding onto the East side of the church, they would actually be pushing themselves closer to the gardens and all the noise and activity that entails.  Flaten indicated they are not worried about that.  He stated the extension of Scotts Avenue would be more of an issue for them.

Hill indicated the 25’ setback tends to be for yards in front of homes.  He pointed out buildings in the Central Business District can be right up to the property line.  This property is zoned RM with Scotts Avenue being the dividing line between the R and RM zone in this area.    

Livingston indicated he feels that there have not been other options with other projects, but there are options on this project.

Granger indicated she feels this is an area that should be protected for residential development.  Hill pointed out there are water and sewer utilities in this area. 

It was the consensus of the Commission that they are not in favor of this request. 

Comprehensive Plan Review:  Granger handed out a list of changes in the community that have happened since the 1999 Comprehensive Plan was adopted.

Granger indicated she feels a Housing Task Force should be formed.  Hoffman indicated since the last meeting he has had at least 60 telephone calls from people looking for property to rent in Morris, and he feels there is a need for good rentals in Morris.

Livingston asked if there are any regional planning bodies that could help with the Comprehensive Plan.  Hill indicated the City does not work with any regional planning agency.  Granger indicated she feels a professional planner could help and advise the Planning Commission.  

Hill indicated he agrees with Granger in that a Housing Task Force should be formed.  He feels Morris does need housing, but not senior housing as noted in the 1999 Comprehensive Plan.  He feels Morris needs affordable housing for people with medium incomes.

Hill indicated he feels the working relationship between the City, County, Townships, and UMM is really good, which is a good thing.

Granger indicated in skimming the Comprehensive Plan, emphasis on some things is outdated. 

Hill indicated the Industrial Park is pretty much filled.  Granger asked what kind of services will be needed if the land to the south is developed.  Hill indicated the services have been sized right for expansion in that area.  Hill indicated he feels the Industrial Park needs to be expanded.  Miller suggested the City secure more land for expansion of the Industrial Park.  Hill indicated the City should at least identify land for expansion and start working on an agreement for possible future purchase.

Hill indicated he feels the #1 priority right now is housing.

Granger asked if there are other things that more current Comprehensive Plans are covering, and things that can be dropped that are old-fashioned.  Hill will get Plans from other cities and compare them to see if there are any items to be added or dropped.

It was the consensus that the “homework” for the March meeting will be the same (page 11 and pages 14-35 of the Comprehensive Plan).

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Commissioner Gades moved, seconded by Livingston, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:27.

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