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MINUTES - PLANNING COMMISSION - REGULAR MEETING - SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

 

The Regular Meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 20th day of September, 2016, 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:  Commissioner Hoffman, Rudney, Gades, Wulf and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Commissioners Kurpiers and Granger were absent.  Also present were Ex-officio Miller and City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill.

 

READING AND APPROVAL OF 5/17/16 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Gades moved, seconded by Rudney, to approve the 5/17/16 Regular Meeting minutes as received.  Motion carried.

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None.

 

OTHER BUSINESS:  Welcome New Member Dennis Wulf:  The Commissioners welcomed new member Dennis Wulf.

 

Discussion - Zoning Codes:  Kuchenreuther asked Hill to put a discussion of City Codes on the agenda pertaining to things like the apartment building that is being constructed on East 5th Street.  There have been several neighbor complaints and worries about the construction.  Kuchenreuther handed out correspondence from concerned homeowners on East 5th Street, an email she sent to the Morris City Council, and an email she sent to the Planning Commission regarding this issue.

 

Miller indicated the City Council discussed having a meeting with the developers and the concerned property owners.   Kuchenreuther indicated her biggest issue is that the City Code requires that multi-family structures need to have a landscape plan approved by the Planning Commission.  The City Attorney has indicated that since the building permit has been approved for the apartment project, nothing can be done about this situation.  Kuchenreuther indicated there is not always good will on the developer's part and she feels if there is a provision in the Code to require something, it should be enforced or deleted.  She questioned if an apartment this size should have to go through the Conditional Use Permit process so that conditions could be part of the Conditional Use Permit.  It was suggested that the Code could be changed to say an apartment building over a certain amount of units would require a Conditional Use Permit.  She feels the character of the neighborhood is going to change with this new apartment. 

 

Hill indicated the City used to have a full time planner and a full time building official who oversaw zoning, and now we have no planner and a part-time building official.  The City Manager wound up being the zoning administrator and Hill feels that is not working.  Hill noted the Planning Commission has never reviewed a landscape plan that he is aware of. 

 

 

MINUTES - PLANNING COMMISSION - REGULAR MEETING - SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

Discussion - Zoning Codes:  (continued)

Hill feels the neighborhood along East 5th Street where the new apartment building is being constructed was the busiest neighborhood in the whole city when the school was operating.  There were the elementary school, buses, teachers, students, and football games on the property, and right around the corner is UMM.  He stated UMM students park in front of the houses and walk through there.  He questioned the description of a landscape plan and asked if the City is going to start picking out the trees that would be required to be planted.  He also pointed out a landscape plan could be just planting grass.    

 

Hill stated that currently there are no screening requirements in the Code.  He pointed out the parking lot for the new apartment complex is more than 30 feet from the residential neighborhood and it exits onto College.  

 

Hill indicated the concerned citizens have three main issues - those being the fact that the apartment complex is being built across the street from them, lighting, and screening.  Hill pointed out that after much study, this property was zoned multi-family, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the apartment building is being built there.  Although there is nothing in the Code regarding lighting, the developers will be putting in dark sky compliant lighting.  Kuchenreuther indicated dark sky and solar lighting should be put in the Code.  Hill noted the City takes care of plantings on boulevards which is considered screening, so he feels everything will work out. 

 

Hill is going to recommend that the building official be the zoning administrator, as he has the technical expertise to do so.  That way when a building permit application comes in, the building official/zoning administrator can make sure the applicants follow the zoning requirements.

 

Hill indicated boards and commissions are set up to be advisory to the City Council.  He questioned how to set up a process to review a landscape plan.  Kuchenreuther agreed that the Planning Commission should be advisory to the Council. She feels the Planning Commission should think about the Comprehensive Plan and see if they feel the Code follows the Comprehensive Plan.  She does not feel the role of the Planning Commission is just to react to issues.  Hoffman asked what the chances are of getting a full time Planner.   

 

Hill indicated the land where the apartment complex is being built was sold contingent upon it being multi-family housing.  Kuchenreuther indicated she feels there should have been a requirement for single family homes to be built there.  She feels the City needs to be sensitive to the neighborhood.  Hill questioned what that means, and asked if it would mean limiting the size of the apartment buildings.  Kuchenreuther indicated that may be something to think about.  Hoffman indicated everyone wanted that parcel to be developed.  He feels the development will result in big changes for Morris. 

 

 

 

MINUTES - PLANNING COMMISSION - REGULAR MEETING - SEPTEMBER 20, 2016

Discussion - Zoning Codes:  (continued)

Wulf asked if there is a known issue at the apartment development now.  Kuchenreuther indicated she feels the Planning Commission needs to raise any issues before another project is underway.

 

Miller asked if a meeting has been set between the developer and the concerned citizens.  Hill indicated he doesn't feel there will actually be a meeting.  One of the concerned citizens has already spoken with the developer, and the City can't require the developer to meet with the citizens. Kuchenreuther feels wind power should also be investigated to be added to the Code. 

 

Commissioner Hoffman requested that the Planning Commission receive a list of building permits once a month so they know what projects are going on.  Hill indicated that would not be a problem.

 

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

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