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MINUTES  -  PLANNING COMMISSION  -  REGULAR MEETING  -  APRIL 15, 2014

The Regular Meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 15th day of April, 2014, 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, Hoffman, Kurpiers, Rudney, and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Commissioner Granger arrived at 5:17.  Commissioner Livingston was absent.  Also present were ex-officio Miller and City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 3/18/14 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Kurpiers, to approve the minutes of the 3/18/14 regular meeting as submitted.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None.

OTHER BUSINESSElectronic Signs:  Don Munsterman was present representing Zion Lutheran Church in Morris.  He indicated the church wants to put up an electronic sign about 5’ X 6’ in front of the church, but according to the City Code they cannot have an LED illuminated sign in a residential zone.  He noted they have found out that the illuminated signs are programmed to shine brighter in the daytime, and dimmer at night. 

Chairperson Kuchenreuther indicated digital signs are here to stay and she feels the City needs to write an ordinance to address them.

Munsterman indicated they propose a double sided box sign that would face north and south, perpendicular to South Columbia Avenue.

The Code addresses message signs.  Kuchenreuther questioned what a message sign would be as cited in Section 11.70, Subdivision 25.E.6, as she feels all signs deliver a message.  Hill indicated he feels that refers to a sign that provides more things than general information.  Rudney suggested changing that section of the Code by adding the word “changing” before “message signs”. 

Commissioner Granger stated she has been thinking about different businesses in the residential areas of Morris, and wonders how lighted signs could be restricted.  She feels it is nice to keep the residential areas quiet and questions if illuminated signs are needed in residential areas. 

Munsterman provided a sign catalog the Church is considering ordering from.  Kuchenreuther noted some signs in the catalog can be animated, and she does not feel those types of signs would be appropriate in residential areas.  She feels there would be potential for graphics on signs to be obnoxious.

Granger indicated she feels illuminated signs on commercial buildings are fine, but feels there should be a separation between commercial and residential areas.  Hoffman indicated he feels Granger’s point is valid.  He stated there are a lot of home businesses in town and if everyone installs an illuminated sign, it would change the look of the residential neighborhoods.

Kuchenreuther listed several non-profit businesses in residential zones – churches, schools, the DAC, and group homes.  Granger asked what the justification would be for treating signage different for a non-profit business.  Kuchenreuther indicated she feels churches view themselves as being for the public good rather than the private gain.  Hill pointed out the Planning Commission needs to be looking at identification signs, and not just signs for churches.  This issue would be dealt with as a Code issue.

Hoffman indicated he doesn’t feel the City should be restrictive on signs in the commercial district. 

Kuchenreuther feels an ordinance regarding these types of signs needs to address animation, digital and LED signs.  She also suggested language be included that signs need to be dimmed at night.  Rudney feels lighted signs could be intrusive in residential zones. 

Hill noted that no flashing signs are allowed in the City with the exception of time/temperature or message signs.  He feels there is a difference between having a light on a sign versus the new electronic and LED signs.  He feels the language needs to be tweaked taking into consideration what the Planning Commission wants to allow in the residential zone.  He pointed out the regulations would apply to the entire City. 

Munsterman pointed out that most churches are located on an entire block, so an illuminated sign probably would not affect a residential area along the same side of the street as the church.  Hoffman pointed out it could affect the property owner across the street though.  Granger indicated she is concerned about the proliferation of illuminated signs in residential areas. 

Kuchenreuther suggested checking to see what other cities have done regarding illuminated signs in the residential areas.  Hill indicated he would check into the Codes of other cities. 

Kurpiers noted most signs are probably preset on lumens. He suggested if electronic signs are allowed in the residential zone, the City could require that at night everything must be static.  Kuchenreuther asked if the City could require that any illuminated signs in the residential zone be turned off during certain times at night.  Hill noted that presently the City Code allows the City to regulate the illumination of any sign as part of a sign permit.  Hill noted that the Planning Commission needs to look at brightness, motion and illumination of signs in residential areas.

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Hoffman, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:15.

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