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MINUTES - PLANNING COMMISSION - REGULAR MEETING - NOVEMBER 15, 2016

 

The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 15th day of November, 2016, by Vice Chairperson Rudney 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 Hoffman, Rudney, Gades, Granger and Wulf.  Commissioner Kurpiers and Chairperson Kuchenreuther were absent.  Ex-officio Miller and City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill were also present.

 

READING AND APPROVAL OF 10/18/16 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Gades questioned what streets in Morris are going to be made narrower.  Hill indicated his plan is that new streets be built narrower.  Brook Street is a 40' road, and when that is re-done next year, the plan is to narrow the street to 36'.  Hill indicated a 36' road is cheaper to build and maintain, and the storm runoff is less.  He noted 36' is the MNDOT standard width for a residential road, and that includes 2 driving lanes and 2 parking lanes. 

 

Commissioner Gades commented that when plowing snow, 2' will be lost on each side of the street, making driving difficult.  He noted he is commenting from a driver's standpoint and with a 36' street he would rather have parking on just one side of the street. 

 

Hill noted that on Brook Street the yards will be wider on both sides of the street.  There will be no sidewalk in there, but he doesn't feel it is ever too late to install sidewalks.  Wulf asked if the size of people's lots will change.  Hill indicated the lot sizes won't change, it just changes the amount of the road right-of-way the City is using. 

 

Hoffman asked about sidewalk on Brook Street.  Hill indicated the City initiated this project.  A public hearing on the project will be held next week, and sidewalks will be discussed at that time.  He indicated everything comes down to cost and what people are willing to pay for.  Hoffman indicated he doesn't feel a sidewalk should be ruled out on Brook Street as he feels kids will otherwise be riding their trikes and bikes on the 36' street.

 

Commissioner Granger moved, seconded by Hoffman, to approve the minutes of the 10/18/16 regular meeting as presented.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

 

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None.

 

OTHER BUSINESSZoning Code Discussion:  Hill indicated he would like to discuss street parking for rental housing. 

 

Granger asked if storm drainage includes impervious surfaces.  Hill indicated the City will be considering a new ordinance on storm water for an MS4 permit application to the State to allow the City to drain storm water into the Pomme de Terre River.  He noted a UMM

 

student is also working on GreenStep environmental issues.  He stated Morris was recently awarded a MN Energy Clean City Award.

 

One of the issues the Planning Commission identified that should be addressed was whether there should be a cap on the size of multi-family developments that can be built without a conditional use permit.  Granger noted she feels that would be a good idea as a lot of issues can be caught through the conditional use permit process.

 

Hill indicated he received a complaint about a property that has so many people living in a rental that there is no parking available for the other people along the street.  He found two items in the City Zoning Code that he feels the Planning Commission should look into.  One is the definition of dwelling units and the number of people that can be rented space.  An example is in Section 11.22 on page 405.  Under B. Permitted Uses (Accessory) No. 3, which reads, “The renting of rooms or the providing of table board to not more than three persons per single family dwelling.”  Granger indicated that when the Planning Commission addressed this in the past, their interpretation was this had to do with renting a bedroom out. 

 

Hill indicated there is further language defining what a family is.  Granger indicated there is a court ruling that you can't define what a family is.  Rudney, who also does inspections for the City's rental ordinance, indicated there are some places in town that rent out a room.  He also noted that at one time there was a requirement in Morris that rentals had to provide off-street parking.  Granger noted that if off-street parking is required, then the cars will be parked in back yards.  Hill indicated that for a fee, UMM does allow students to park in one of their lots during a snow alert.  Hill indicated he is going to recommend that the City has the right to know how many people are living in a rental property. Rudney noted it's rare if there is more than 1 person in a bedroom unless they're a couple.  Granger asked if we are trying to get at the number of vehicles parked in front of a rental by limiting the number of people that can live there.  Hoffman pointed out that landlords are a big part of our community, and feels the City will get a lot of calls if it starts asking landlords how many people are living in their properties.  Granger suggested researching what other towns do about vehicles.  Ex-officio Miller pointed out Morris is unique in that we have UMM.

 

Hill indicated that there are a lot of areas in town where parking is only allowed on one side of the street.  He suggested that parking be allowed on both sides of many of those streets.  Hill indicated he believes two-sided parking along a 36' wide street actually slows traffic down.  Wulf noted UMM has grown a lot, so there are more students in town.  Hill indicated he has been dealing with parking issues since he came to Morris.  He noted former City Attorney Glasrud would not take parking issues to court because it's a public road.  Granger noted the problem is where there are a lot of rentals on 50' lots.  Hill indicated the complaint he received had parking on both sides of the street.  Granger asked if it was safe for school buses, fire trucks and ambulances to get through 36' streets with parking on both sides.  Hill indicated he feels it is safe.

Granger stated she really feels dark sky compliant lighting needs to be looked into in the larger developments.  Hoffman feels the Planning Commission needs to expand the list of allowed uses in the Central Business District so that business is not discouraged.  Wulf agreed the City doesn't want to discourage development in a town our size. 

 

ADJOURNMENT:  Commissioner Granger moved, seconded by Wulf, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:25.

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