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MINUTES-PLANNING COMMISSION-REGULAR MEETING-SEPTEMBER 17, 2013

The Regular Meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 17th day of September, 2013, 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 Rudney, Granger, Kurpiers, and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Commissioners Livingston, Hoffman and Gades were absent.  Also present were Ex-officio Miller and City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 8/20/13 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Granger moved, seconded by Rudney, to approve the minutes of the 8/20/13 regular meeting as presented.  Motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None.

OTHER BUSINESSCity Council Request for Action on Zoning – Set Public Hearing for Zoning:  Chairperson Kuchenreuther indicated the City Council has passed a Resolution Requesting Planning Commission Action on Zoning.  This resolution requests that the Planning Commission change the zoning for the area along East 7th Street from Columbia Avenue to Iowa Avenue, which was recently changed from a Highway Business (HB) Zoning District to a Multiple Family Residence (RM) Zoning District, back to a Highway Business (HB) Zoning District.

Commissioner Granger indicated she has thought this through and feels HB is not the right zone in that area as it allows such large scale operations.  She feels the City should consider a Neighborhood Commercial District which would allow for small businesses in residential areas.  The City of Minneapolis has such a district, and Granger made a spreadsheet of what their district allows, what the Morris HB zone allows, what the Morris Central Business District (CBD) allows, and what she feels could be allowed in a Morris Neighborhood Commercial District.  The new district would allow smaller uses such as clothing stores, shoe repair, cafes, coffee shops, and vet clinics, to name a few.  Not permitted would be movie theatres, auto sales, gas stations, motels, rest homes, and other uses that would negatively impact residential neighborhoods.  Granger indicated uses could be limited by size.  The purpose of the Neighborhood Commercial District is to provide a convenient shopping environment of small scale retail sales and commercial services that are compatible with adjacent residential uses.  Commissioner Rudney indicated he also looked at Minneapolisí zoning code and feels this zone makes so much sense.  The zone would prohibit things that spill into the night, such as night clubs, and allow entertainment things that go on in the daytime. 

Ex-officio Miller indicated he feels that with the 17 acre school property across the street and the development that will be taking place there, it makes sense to try and accommodate and allow some uses along 7th Street, and feels some types of small businesses along there could be good.  Kuchenreuther agreed that having amenities close to housing is good. 

Granger pointed out that Brown Wilbert is a heavy industrial use, and is a non-conforming business in both the HB and RM zones.  She noted that Minneapolis is not social engineering because a lot of things are allowed in the Neighborhood Commercial District.  Uses could be restricted by size, hours and spill over impact.  The Planning Commission would have to think about principal and accessory uses, along with setbacks, screening, etc. 

Hill indicated that with the City Councilís resolution requesting action, the Planning Commission has to set a public hearing on changing the zoning from RM to HB.  Public notices must be sent to all property owners within a 350 foot radius, the hearing must be held, and then the Planning Commission makes a recommendation to the City Council on that request.  Hill questioned why the Planning Commission would want to create a commercial zone on that little stretch of street.  He asked if this zone would be placed on every corner in Morris.  Kuchenreuther indicated it could be placed along major streets such as West 5th Street.  Miller feels the City has to try protect businesses also.  Hill indicated he feels the Planning Commission is trying to solve a problem by doing something (creating the new zone) they never would have done otherwise.  Granger did not agree. 

Hill indicated Brown Wilbert does want to add on to their building.  Granger pointed out that according to the Code, their business is non-conforming, even in the Highway Business zone.  They are an allowed use in the Heavy Industrial zone.  Hill pointed out that as a non-conforming use, they are not allowed to expand.  Miller asked if Brown Wilbert would be allowed to move their trucks out of the trucks stalls and use that space for their business.  Kuchenreuther indicated that would be an expansion, and would not be allowed. 

Commissioner Kurpiers indicated Mayor Giese did ask if there was a zone for uses between RM and HB.  Granger indicated the possible new Neighborhood Commercial District would allow a lot more uses, and would allow property owners to sell their properties for many uses. 

Hill suggested holding the public hearing, listening to the input from the public, and explaining that the Planning Commission feels they have a better option with a new Neighborhood Commercial zone, and then take time to develop the new zone.  Miller agreed this would show that the Planning Commission is trying to work with the present owners. 

Kurpiers asked if there would be a negative impact on Main Street if the Neighborhood Commercial zone comes to pass.  Granger indicated she didnít think it would.  Rudney indicated he didnít think the neighborhood businesses would be much competition to the downtown businesses. Kurpiers indicated this was the one negative benefit he came up with with the new zone. 

Commissioner Granger moved, seconded by Rudney, to set a public hearing for 5:20 p.m. on Tuesday, October 15th devoted to the question of whether or not to reverse the zoning on East 7th Street from Columbia Avenue to Iowa Avenue and reinstate Highway Business (HB).  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

School Demolition:  Brief discussion was held on the progress of the demolition of the old Elementary school.

Landfill Zone:  Kuchenreuther asked if the Planning Commission was going to start working on zoning the landfill property.  Hill explained there is no use in working on it until Stevens County does their plan.

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Kurpiers, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:17.

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