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MINUTES – PLANNING COMMISSION – REGULAR MEETING – MAY 20, 2014

The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 20th day of May, 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 Granger, Rudney, Hoffman, Livingston, Gades, Kurpiers, and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Also present were ex-officio Miller and City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 4/15/14 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Gades moved, seconded by Rudney, to approve the minutes of the 4/15/14 Regular meeting.  Motion carried unanimously.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None.

OTHER BUSINESSPreliminary/Re-Plat of Riley’s Commercial Development First Addition:  Zoning Administrator Hill explained this is a re-plat, as this was originally platted in 2006.  He noted the City Code does not require a public hearing for a plat.  It is required that the developer provide the preliminary plat to the City five business days before the Planning Commission meeting.  The Planning Commission reviews the plat, and then makes a recommendation to the City Council on approval.  If the preliminary plat is approved by the City Council, then the final plat is brought to the Planning Commission who again makes a recommendation to the City Council. 

Hill indicated the only major changes on this re-plat have to do with the size of lots and the frontage road.  MNDOT wants an additional 25’ of right of way to eventually put in a center turn lane, which will take away all safety concerns about turning into the area.  Hill has received verbal approval from MNDOT on the replat.  The University is a co-owner of an access (farm road) that will get moved to Columbia Avenue, and although there is no formal Agreement with them yet on this move, they have agreed to this.  Also, the accesses to the development are bumped in a bit more for safety purposes.

Tom Klemenhagen of Landteam, the engineering firm working on this development, indicated they have spent a lot of hours working with MNDOT on these accesses.  He indicated the original plat recorded in 2006 has a connection at Park Avenue, and indicated MNDOT allowed them to come out on the west end of the development rather than connect at Park Avenue.  He stated the replat has 50’ sight distances. 

Klemenhagen indicated MNDOT intends to put in a center turn lane in Highway 28 in 2015.  Also, MNDOT’s storm water will be collected and treated in the ponds in this replatted area.  Hill noted the ponds are built by the developers, and then turned over to the City who will then maintain them.  Klemenhagen noted the ponds will be designed to meet MPCA requirements.  The City will also take over the frontage road, the extension of Columbia Avenue, Commercial Drive and 14th Street on the replat. 

Chairperson Kuchenreuther asked about Block 3, Lot 4 on the drainage plan, and if that whole lot drains to the NE.  Hill indicated whoever develops that lot has to drain it.  Klemenhagen explained the storm sewer is set behind the curb and sized so each lot will have its own storm sewer system. 

Commissioner Rudney asked who “Western Prairie Sky, LLC” is that is noted on the replat.  Klemenhagen indicated that is Paul Martin.  Martin is an owner of a part of this replat, therefore he has to be listed on the plat.

Rudney asked why the lots were resized from the original plat.  Klemenhagen indicated that MNDOT has required some of the changes, and some of the lots are now sized for particular uses.  Joe Riley indicated not all the lots are sized for a particular use.  Rudney asked what happens if a buyer wants a different sized lot than what is platted.  Hill indicated a replat would not be necessary – rather a buyer could purchase a portion of a lot.  Commissioner Kurpiers noted he feels a change in potential buyers and lot sizes is extremely likely.  Klemenhagen indicated he would think the only reason for another replat would be infrastructure or street configuration changes.  He stated they tried to set up the replat for the future by extending Commercial Drive and Columbia Avenue to the north property lines. 

Klemenhagen indicated they considered putting in a lift station at the east end of the property, but have decided to bring the sanitary sewer all the way to Iowa Avenue instead.  This gives a lot of options for development to the east of this replat. 

Commissioner Granger asked if the speed limit would be changed in this area.  Hill indicated he would guess that it would be lowered. 

Granger asked what the fate is of the trees that have been planted along East Highway 28.  Hill noted Engineering Surveyor/inspector Fier didn’t think they would be affected by this development.  Riley noted there are some ash trees on Columbia that may be affected.  Klemenhagen noted technically those trees are MNDOT’s since they were obtained with a State grant, and they will make the call on the trees.  Granger noted the trees could be moved.  Klemenhagen noted the entire ditch will be torn up to extend the sewer to Iowa Avenue.

Kurpiers asked about future plans north of this replat.  Klemenhagen indicated they have not done any ghost planning in that area.  Hill noted the Highway Business zone extends 350’ to the north of Highway 28, and all the land to the north of that is zoned Residential.

Kuchenreuther asked about walking and biking access to this area as there are no sidewalks.  Klemenhagen indicated it would be difficult to include sidewalks as frontage road rights of way would have to be changed.  The sidewalks would have to abut the back of the curb.  Granger questioned why a new City street would be platted without a sidewalk.  Klemenhagen pointed out there will only be curb on the north side of the frontage road.  He stated the sidewalk could be put up to the property line.  However, somebody has to pay for the sidewalk, and this is already a $1.5 million project.  He noted it could be a long time until all the lots are sold.  Hill noted there are no pedestrian crossings on Highway 28.  Klemenhagen asked if it could be a requirement of site developers to construct sidewalks in order to defer some of the costs from the developers.  He stated there are 12’ of right of way behind the curb.  Hill noted there would be room there to put sidewalk in.  Kuchenreuther questioned if MNDOT would consider putting in an underpass for bikers and walkers.  Klemenhagen stated that there isn’t enough elevation on the road to put one in at that point on the highway.  Klemenhagen noted the entrance roads do not have curbs on them, and would have to be widened to have room for sidewalks.  Hill suggested putting something on the plat to indicate potential sidewalk sites. 

Joe Riley asked if there would be tax increment financing available for this project in order to keep taxes down until lots are sold off.  He doesn’t want to pay higher taxes on bare land that is not sold just because the property is now developed.  Hill indicated he would have to look into that.  He noted one of the uses for TIF is infrastructure, and sidewalks would be included in that. 

Granger asked when the sewer would be constructed.  Riley indicated they would put the sewer in when they receive the MNDOT permit sometime this summer.  Klemenhagen noted MPCA also has to approve the extension permit.

Rudney asked about the process on the sidewalk.  Hill noted whoever puts in the sidewalk will have to meet the requirements of the City Code. He feels forcing a sidewalk to be put in would be a City Council decision.  Hill pointed out the City does not require sidewalks in new residential neighborhoods.  Granger asked if the City could put the sidewalk in.  Hill noted the City could put the sidewalks in and then assess the property owners.  Granger indicated she feels sidewalks should be put on the preliminary plat so property owners know there is an expectation that they will have to build sidewalks.  Klemenhagen indicated sidewalks are not shown on a final plat as the sidewalk would be in the right of way.

Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Livingston, to recommend to the City Council to approve the preliminary plat and to consider requiring that sidewalks be put in when the construction project starts.  Motion carried unanimously.

Electronic Signs – Zion Lutheran Church:  Hill noted he feels the City Code needs to be rewritten with regard to electronic and illuminated signs.  He feels illuminated signs should be for signs that are lighted from within or have a light shining on them. 

Granger and Kuchenreuther noted language from Northfield and Bloomington in regard to electronic signs.  Hill indicated he feels the bottom line is that the City shouldn’t allow electronic signs in Residential zones. 

Rudney indicated First Lutheran Church has a sign they set out that tells of events going on at the church.  Granger indicated she feels electronic signs stray into advertising.  Kurpiers pointed out illuminated signs can have notes on them telling of events.

It was the consensus of the Commission that electronic signs not be permitted in the Residential zone.

Commissioner Hoffman left the meeting at 6:25 p.m.

Hill will work on Code language to prohibit electronic signs in the Residential zone.  He will also contact Zion Lutheran Church.

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Kurpiers, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:32.

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