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MINUTES – PLANNING COMMISSION – REGULAR MEETING – MAY 15, 2012

The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 15th day of May, 2012, 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, Rudney, Kurpiers, and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Commissioners Granger, Hoffman and Livingston were absent.  Also present were Ex-officio Miller and City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 4/17/12 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Kurpiers, to approve the minutes of the 4/17/12 regular meeting as presented.  Motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGSEvangelical Free Church Variance Request:  This hearing is on a request for a zoning variance from Section 11.24, Subd. 2 D 5 (a) of the Morris City Code which requires a 25’ front yard setback in a multiple family residence (RM) zone.  This request is by Morris Evangelical Free Church, 901 Scotts Avenue, legally described as Beginning on S. line SE ¼ 942.6’ E. of SW corner, N. 5 Deg. 16’ W. 500’, E’ly 348.8’ S. 500’ to S. Sec. Line, W. 302.1’ to Pt. of Beg. Lot B of SE ¼, parcel number 20-0014-000.  This variance, if granted, would allow an addition to the Evangelical Free Church within 10’ of the front yard line. 

Hill explained that in the past he has written up the approved variances at the Planning Commission meeting when they were approved.  He has learned that the findings for approving variances are to be more detailed, so he will be writing them up after the meetings from now on. 

Joel Flaten was present representing the Evangelical Free Church.  He handed out information regarding two scenarios for their addition.  Their preferred choice would be the scenario where they would need the variance, and this is a 50’ X 80’ addition onto the east portion of the church.  The estimated cost for this addition is $528,600.  The second scenario would be a 65’ X 130’ addition onto the south portion of the church.  The estimated cost for this addition would be $1,260,000.

Rudney asked about the septic system and wells on the property.  Flaten indicated they plan to pull out the current septic system and hook into the City’s sewer at West 8th Street.  The wells noted on the map are for their geothermal heating system.

The church owns all the property south to West 8th Street. 

Rudney asked if the City intends to extend Scotts Avenue to the south.  Hill indicated the City has never discussed extending Scotts Avenue, however, it is still platted.  In order for the street to be extended, the owners of the adjacent properties would have to petition the City to build the street, and the owners would be responsible for paying for the work.  Ex-officio Miller asked if the Evangelical Free Church has ever discussed developing and selling off the property they own on the south side of the church.  Flaten indicated that has never been discussed. 

Hill noted the church’s preferred scenario with the addition to the east of their current building would put their building 10’ from their property line.  There is a right of way between the property line and street. 

Kuchenreuther indicated there are other precedents with churches being close to the street, e.g., First Lutheran Church on East 5th Street, which she does not feel poses a problem.  Rudney pointed out the Evangelical Free Church is in more of a rural setting.  Kuchenreuther feels there may be fewer than 10 developable lots along the east side of Scotts Avenue if it were extended.

Kurpiers asked what the vertical profile would be of the addition to the east.  Flaten indicated the gable would be toward the street, and it would be about 2’ above the current roof line.

Jack Fuchs, 507 West 10th Street, was present and indicated he lives three houses from Scotts Avenue.  He indicated his only concern with this addition is the water in the area.  He asked if there would be a basement under the addition.  Flaten indicated there will be no basement.

Kurpiers asked if there is a plan to increase parking spaces with the preferred option.  Flaten indicated there is no plan to add any parking spaces with the preferred option. 

Brad Fehr, 26339 470th Avenue, indicated he thinks the biggest concern is the difference in cost between the two options.

Kurpiers asked if there are other portions of the more expensive option that would have to be added to the preferred option.  Flaten indicated at this time their focus is on the sanctuary expansion.

Kuchenreuther stated that assuming the church will not have to expand their parking lot with the preferred option, one could argue that would be a benefit, along with not having to remove any trees.  Kurpiers noted that one maple and one ash tree would be removed with the preferred option.

Hill noted he did not receive any calls regarding this request. 

Ray Nohl was present and indicated he worked on the drainage for the church.  He stated they ran a line from West 8th Street to the parking lot.  He stated they diverted water away from the parking lot and to the open ditch by West 8th Street.  Hill indicated he would recommend granting this variance.

Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Gades, to approve the variance request for the 50’ X 80’ addition to the Evangelical Free Church and allow them to be within 10’ of their property line.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Old BusinessRiverview Variance Requests:  Hill indicated that Riverview, LLP was issued variances in March of this year to build new homes at 16 East 4th Street and 15 South Street.  Each property was issued a variance to be 6’ into the 25’ front yard setback requirement.  The problem is that they have installed the plumbing and foundations for these properties 19’ from the curb, not from their property line.  This has resulted in the foundations being extremely close to the street.

Hill indicated there are two options, the first being requiring them to tear out the foundations and plumbing and relocate them to the correct location, and the second being allowing the homes to be built in the wrong places.  Hill stated there would be no way to park a pickup in the driveway of these homes, as they would stick out into the street.  He has talked to Lyle Grimm of Riverwood, LLC, and Grimm has indicated they could reconfigure the garage so that it opens to the alley instead of the street. 

Hill indicated the map used at the hearing for the variance request does show that the homes are 19’ from Oregon Avenue instead of the 19’ setback from the property line.  Hill noted that in the future the City needs to make sure property owners have their property lines, right of way, and the roads clearly marked and identified.

Fehr noted that the garage next to one of these properties is as close to the street as the Riverview foundation.

Gades noted that on the South Street house there is a pipe going out to the north.  He questioned what that was for.  Rudney indicated all the duct work for the East 9th Street property Riverview constructed last year is under the slab and that may be what the pipe is for. 

Fehr indicated the City’s building official did inspect the plumbing at both sites. 

Gades moved, seconded by Rudney, to allow the mistakes on placement of these homes to remain as long as the garages are reoriented to approach the alley.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

OTHER BUSINESSCourthouse Landscaping Update:  Hill sent an email to County Coordinator Giese regarding this issue.  On the landscaping plan, trees were to be planted in the islands, but lights have been placed in the islands.  At this point the only thing incomplete is planting shrubs in the islands.  Hill is still working with Giese on this matter.

Comprehensive Plan:  Hill indicated he has met with Engin Sungur at the UMM regarding updating the statistical information in the Comprehensive Plan. 

ADJOURNMENT:  Commissioner Gades moved, seconded by Kurpiers, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:15.

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