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MINUTES - PLANNING COMMISSION - REGULAR MEETING - AUGUST 18, 2015

The Regular Meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 18th day of August, 2015, 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 Kurpiers, Rudney, Livingston and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Commissioners Granger, Hoffman and Gades were absent.  Also present were City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill and Ex-officio Miller.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 5/19/15 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Kurpiers, to approve the minutes of the 5/19/15 Regular Meeting as presented.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None.

OTHER BUSINESS:  Preliminary Plat - Old Elementary School Property First Addition:  Rudney asked why there are two Lot 1's.  Hill explained this is the First Addition, so there is a Lot 1 on this plat, and a Lot 1 on the plat previously approved. 

Kuchenreuther indicated the only thing she has heard has been from someone who lives on East 5th Street that is not happy about having a multi-story apartment across the street from them.  She noted that nothing can be done about that because it is zoned multi-family.  Hill indicated he thinks the apartment building will be built down the hill, so they may not see the building, but they may see more activity.  He noted the apartment building on Lot 5 of this plat will be market rate, and not low income. 

Kuchenreuther indicated the same person is concerned that there are no roads or access diagonally through this large piece of property.  Hill indicated there are no plans for an interior road on this property.  He noted the HRA is interested in Lots 1 and 4.  Rudney stated obviously they would have to have a way to move people from those lots to 5th and 7th Streets. 

Hill indicated the developer that is interested in Lot 5 will also own and control the pond so they do not wind up with issues with drainage. 

Rudney asked about curb, gutter and sidewalk.  Hill indicated the City will require curb and gutter on the parking lots as it's the best way to control drainage.  He also feels the City will eventually want to see sidewalks around the area. 

Miller asked if there will be adequate off-street parking for the apartments.  Hill noted there is a mandatory number of off-street parking required.

Considerable discussion was held on setbacks and easements.  Kurpiers noted there is no easement or setbacks noted on Outlot A, which is the lot on which the pond will be constructed. Hill noted he thinks there are no setbacks or easements because no buildings will be constructed there.  Kurpiers asked if they should be on the map for a sidewalk, future pedestrian bike path or future potential alleyway.  Hill indicated they wouldn't need to put in a sidewalk or alley easement.  The utility easement would be their call.  Without a road going through this property, Hill doesn't think the City can require an easement for a sidewalk.  There was a question as to why there is no 15' easement on the south side of Lot 2 and north side of Lot 3.  Hill will look into this.

Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Livingston, to recommend that the City Council approve the Old Elementary School Property First Addition Preliminary Plat as presented.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Sign Ordinance Update:  Hill indicated he has looked at a variety of signs in town, measured some, and tried to come up with a recommendation on sign lighting that is reasonable and uses common sense.  He feels the key is not allowing electronic signs in Residential zones, or shining into Residential zones. 

One change he is suggesting is allowing for 30 square foot signs instead of the formula currently in the Code.  He pointed out the City always maintains the right to regulate hours of illumination and how bright the lights are. 

Chairperson Kuchenreuther indicated she got a telephone call from Commissioner Granger regarding the Sign Ordinance, and she has a lot of thoughts on this and would like to participate in the discussion, so she has requested this be tabled so she can be involved in the discussion. 

Kuchenreuther suggested the changes include the terms "R" "RM" zone for the Residence District, as that is how it is referred to in the Code.

Kuchenreuther indicated she has a problem with adding language to the General Regulations indicating that lettering on a building identifying the name of the building may not constitute a sign, but it needs a sign permit, especially if it will have back lighting.  She feels it makes sense to allow large lettering on a hospital, church or school.  However, she feels if the Christus House had applied for a permit for the lettering on their building, it would not have been approved because the letters are too big.  She asked what would prevent her from putting lettering on her house that identifies she lives there.  Hill pointed out the Christus House is a religious center, and not just a house.  He noted there is really no language in the sign ordinance that says they couldn't put lettering on the side of their building.  Kuchenreuther reiterated she believes it makes sense on a public building, but allowing it in an R zone means she could put lettering on the side of her house. 

Kuchenreuther indicated she feels the Planning Commission needs to look at this very carefully.  Hill pointed out there have been no complaints from neighbors about the lettering on the Christus House.  Kuchenreuther doesn't think students believe they have the standing to complain about the lettering.  She doesn't feel the City should let the mistake of allowing the Christus House lettering take precedence for others in the R District.

Livingston indicated he does not have an issue with the Christus House sign being lit reasonably early in the evening before 9:00 p.m.  He does feel the Planning Commission needs to decide if lettering on the side of a building is a sign.  Rudney questioned why the Christus House would want to light their sign all night anyway.  Kuchenreuther indicated she feels the City needs to protect what little integrity the neighborhoods have so that we have nice neighborhoods.  Hill noted there are landscape lights that are pretty bright. 

Hill indicated the Planning Commission needs to decide what they want to do regarding regulating signs.  He stated they need to figure out what is reasonable and enforceable. 

Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Livingston, to table this issue until the September meeting.

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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