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MINUTES - PLANNING COMMISSION - REGULAR MEETING - AUGUST 20, 2013

The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 20th day of August, 2013, in the Council Chambers of the Morris Senior Citizens/Community Center by Chairperson Kuchenreuther.

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

READING AND APPROVAL OF 7/16/13 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Livingston, to approve the minutes of the 7/16/13 regular meeting as submitted.  Motion carried unanimously.

PUBLIC HEARINGSMorris North Apostolic Christian Church Conditional Use Permit Request:  This hearing is on a request for a Conditional Use to allow a Church in an R (Residential) zone pursuant to Section 11.30, Subd. 2, C (1) of the Morris City Code.  This request is by Morris North Apostolic Christian Church, and the property is legally described as 2 124 42 11.03, Lot C of S ½, SE ¼.  This Conditional Use, if granted, would allow Morris North Apostolic Christian Church to construct a Church in an R (Residential) zone. 

City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill indicated he has received no calls or comments regarding this request.  He has discussed this project with the architect and Building Official, and has not identified any issues that need to be addressed by the Planning Commission. 

Commissioner Rudney asked if there are existing sewer and water services to the property.  Hill indicated there are no existing sewer and water services to the property, but a right-of-way extension of Eleanor Avenue will allow the utilities into the property. 

This request is to build a church on the southern portion of the property.  Ex-officio Miller inquired if the church also owned the northern portion of the property.  Micah Zeltwanger, representing the Morris North Apostolic Christian Church, indicated they do own the entire parcel, however Zeltwanger indicated the scope of this project is to build a church on the southern portion. 

Commissioner Rudney asked if there were any runoff issues, and questioned if the property was low toward the northern end.  Reed Becker of WSN, the engineering firm working on this project with the Apostolic Christian Church, indicated there will be a pond built to collect water, so the water will be controlled and there will not be any runoff issues.  Chairperson Kuchenreuther asked if there would be any vegetation in the pond.  Becker indicated there will be as it is designed to be a wet pond so it wonít dry out. 

Kuchenreuther indicated she would like dark sky compliant lighting to be a condition of the Conditional Use Permit.  Becker indicated they will be using dark sky compliant lighting.  Granger asked if there is a lighting plan.  Becker indicated it is being worked on.

Kuchenreuther asked if they are planning to install a sign.  Becker indicated there will probably be a sign, and it would be discreet with no uplighting. 

Miller asked what is located between the building and where the utilities come into the property.  Becker indicated it is a swale for water to drain. 

Rudney asked if conditions put on the Conditional Use Permit are part of the building permit.  Hill indicated they are part of the Conditional Use Permit.  He pointed out there are performance standards in the Code that also need to be followed, and if there are conditions on the Conditional Use Permit, they should be for something specific and enforceable.  Rudney asked how it is confirmed that the conditions have been met.  Hill indicated a better question might be what happens if the conditions are not met.  He indicated the main purpose of a condition should be to protect the surrounding area from noise, smell, or sight issues. 

Kuchenreuther asked about screening.  Becker indicated they will add some trees as a buffer to neighboring homes.  Hill indicated there is specific language on screening in the Code. 

Kuchenreuther asked if there would be any bells chiming at the church.  Becker indicated there will be no bells.

Kurpiers asked if this request is only for a church.  Hill indicated this request is for a church only.  If a cemetery were to be built, it would require a conditional use permit.

Commissioner Granger inquired about the number of parking spaces planned.  Becker indicated there will be about 100 parking spaces. 

Charlotte Hanson, 12 Thomas Street, wanted to confirm that it is not the plan to extend Eleanor Avenue to the south.  Becker indicated they do not plan to extend Eleanor, just put in utilities.  Hill indicated it could be extended in the future, but not with this request.    Granger indicated it would be logical to eventually extend Eleanor. 

Chuck Dingman, 104 Thomas Street, asked if the pond planned by the Church will collect all the water on their property.  He indicated he has lived at this location for 34 years, and a lot of water collects on the north side of the Church property, along with in his back yard.  Becker indicated the pond will collect the water from the church area and it will not run off the side.   Leonard Hanson, 12 Thomas Street, indicated the pond the Church is planning is on the south side of the Church property, and they live on the north side of the property.  He questioned if a berm could be built to drain the water behind their homes.  Miller indicated that the water on the north side of the Church property will continue to go where it is presently going.  Miller suggested the possibility of putting in a storm water utility when the other utilities are being constructed.  Hill pointed out the utilities being installed will only be water and sewer, and not storm sewer.  However, he indicated the City could look into that.  Becker indicated they do plan to install some catch basins.

Doug Williams, 400 Birch Avenue, asked if the north end of the property will be tilled or vegetation.  Zeltwanger indicated it has been vegetation, but they tilled it up recently.  He will bring this question up to the Church board.

Doug Williams asked if Birch Avenue will need to be redone. Ann Williams, 400 Birch Avenue, indicated she is concerned with the extension of Birch Avenue to Highway 9, as snow drifts in there and it is quite treacherous.  Becker indicated the building and landscaping that will be constructed will create a windblock that may block that area.  Hill indicated there are no plans to redo Birch Avenue, but the City could take a look at it.

Jon Anderson, 8 Thomas Street, asked if the public could see a map showing the layout of the Church on the property.  Becker provided the map.

Commissioner Kurpiers asked if there are any screening or vegetation plans on the west side of the north 1/3 of the property.  Hill indicated there is no requirement to screen open space.  Performance standards provide for parking lot screening.  Becker noted there are 5 rows of trees in this area, part of which are owned by the Church.  They do intend to keep the trees on their property. 

Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Hoffman, to recommend to the City Council that the Conditional Use Permit for the Morris North Apostolic Christian Church be approved with the condition they use dark sky compliant lighting.  Motion carried unanimously.

Sid Wilcox:  Sid Wilcox was present.  He indicated he is at this meeting to represent 5-6 businesses on East 7th Street regarding the rezoning of East 7th Street.  Hill indicated East 7th Street was rezoned from Highway Business (HB) to Multi Family Residence (RM) in 2011, and all property owners were sent notice of the hearing.  Sid Wilcox indicated he did not receive notice of that hearing. 

Sid Wilcox is trying to sell his building at 525 East 7th Street.  His understanding after meeting with City Manager Hill is that he cannot sell his building, rather it has to be demolished.  Hill said he did not say it has to be demolished.  Hill indicated the building is non-conforming in the RM zone, and Sid Wilcox can sell the building to be used as the business for which it is presently used.  Granger indicated the building does not have to be demolished.  Sid Wilcox feels he cannot do anything with his building. 

Hill indicated there is a difference between a business and a building.  This building has been used as a storage building, and can continue as a storage building.  It could also be converted to any other use allowed in the RM zone. 

Kathy Wilcox indicated she and her husband would like to move their business into that building, but Hill told them he didnít want their business in the City limits.  Hill indicated he never said he didnít want their business in the City. 

Sid Wilcox indicated he didnít think a house would even fit on the lot.  Kuchenreuther stated a story or story and a half house could be built on this lot. 

Sid Wilcox commented that the City approved two massage parlors on 7th Street.  Hill indicated the City does not license massage parlors. 

Granger indicated the Planning Commission did study zoning over a 3-4 year period and eventually changed some zoning in the City.  She explained the purpose of zoning is to try separate different uses such as commercial, industrial and residential.  Hill noted that 7th Street is no longer a highway.

Hill indicated he has thought about this long and hard and one thing to do would be for the property owners to petition the Planning Commission to change the zoning, which involves following a legal process.  

Kathy Wilcox indicated they have a 7,500 square foot building in the Industrial Park that is too much space for what they need at this time.  They have someone interested in the property, but canít find a place to relocate their small manufacturing business.  She stated with both East 7th Street and Pacific Avenue being rezoned they canít find a place to go.  Kuchenreuther indicated Pacific Avenue is zoned I2, and would fit their use.  Kathy Wilcox stated her concern is that there is no place for businesses to go in Morris.  Kuchenreuther noted there are places that are zoned correctly for their business, but they may not be for sale.  Hill noted there is property available at the corner of Highways 28 and 59. 

Sid Wilcox indicated there is a party interested in his property that wants to put an art studio in, and Hill says they canít do it.  Sid Wilcox also indicated Brown Wilbert Vault Company would like to expand their business, and Hill also turned them down.  Hill rebutted that he explained to the President of Brown Wilbert that under the current zoning, they could not add on to their building, but they could certainly purchase the property.

Kurpiers indicated one of the criteria the Planning Commission has to use when considering a zoning variance or conditional use permit is whether or not allowing the variance would create an undue hardship if the property owners are not allowed to do what they want.

Kathy Wilcox noted they would have to make a considerable investment in order to move into Sid Wilcoxís building. 

Kuchenreuther indicated it is disturbing no one came to talk to the Planning Commission when the public hearing was held on the zoning.  Rich Buro, owner of the Wash N Go Laundromat at 702 East 7th Street, stated the public notice never told him he couldnít sell his building. 

Sid Wilcox indicated the President of Brown Wilbert told him this morning that the business will leave Morris if they are not allowed to expand.  Hill indicated Brown Wilbert does not have a plan for expansion at this time. 

Don Werk, 615 East 7th Street, indicated he has lived on 7th Street for 40 years, and when 7th Street was rebuilt, all the property owners on the north side of the street paid for it because all the property on the south side was exempt from paying assessments.  During the 40 years they have lived there, they assumed this property was their retirement fund, and now he feels the City is taking that away from them.  Werk feels his property has been devalued.  Werk also commented housing will be limited because the developer on the school property wants a non-compete clause for housing.  Hill indicated that is not true, as the developer wants a non-compete clause for assisted living, not housing.  Any non-compete clause would only be on the school property.

Kuchenreuther stated that if any property owners have any ideas or concrete requests for the Planning Commission they should contact Hill, or petition the Planning Commission to have it rezoned.

Sid Wilcox stated that with the action the Planning Commission has taken at this meeting, his property on East 7th Street will no longer be mowed, nor will he pay taxes on the property.  He indicated the City will end up with it and have to tear it down.

Commissioner Hoffman stated his opinion is that the property owners could petition for a zoning change, and the Planning Commission will work to come to a consensus that works for everybody.  Miller indicated he agrees.

Kathy Wilcox stated she feels the reality is that the City is lacking more in business space than residential space. 

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Gades, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:50.

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