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The regular meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 16th day of October, 2007, 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 Johnson, Carpenter, Rudney, Hoffman, Granger, and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Absent was Commissioner Stevenson.  Also present were City Manager Hill and Ex-officio Miller.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 9/18/07 MINUTES:  After discussion, Commissioner Johnson moved, seconded by Rudney, to approve the minutes of the 9/18/07 meeting.  Motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  Steven Hammond Variance Request:  This hearing is on a zoning variance request from Section 11.23, Subd. 2 D 5 (c) of the Morris City Code which requires a 10� sideyard setback in a residential zone.  This request is by Steven Hammond, 327 Eleanor Avenue, legally described as Block 1, Lot 1, Klinker Addition, parcel number 20-1646-100.  This variance, if granted, would allow an addition to an attached garage within 6� of the interior sideyard line.  Hill indicated he received no calls or questions regarding this request.

Rudney asked how Hammond would configure a driveway to the 3rd garage door, and what would happen to the tree in the yard.  Hammond indicated the tree will have to be removed.  He stated the driveway would not be able to go straight into the street because of a drain tile.  The plan is to angle it from the drain tile back to the new garage stall.

Johnson asked how many feet the neighbor�s house is from the property line.  Hammond indicated it is 10�; therefore it would be 16� from building to building with the addition.

Granger indicated she has reviewed the reason for sideyard setbacks in various planning commission resources, some of those being reducing crowding, providing open spaces, preserving permeable surfaces hence less run off, allowing space for planting of a buffer, safety and fire vehicle access, reducing fire spread, and providing for general circulation.  She also reviewed the criteria in the city code regarding the granting of variances.  She feels, based on these items, that this request does not fit the test of hardship. 

Hoffman indicated when this area was platted, a 2-car garage was a plus.  He feels 3-car garages are now the standard.  Granger disagreed. 

Rudney pointed out this is a corner lot.  The City Code states that on a corner lot there

shall be a front yard setback on each street side of such lot, which means this house is


Steven Hammond Variance Request: 

not centered on the property.  He feels in essence this does create a hardship.  Granger questioned if that means the City�s regulations are bad for all corner lots.  Rudney indicated he feels it is a hardship somewhat because Hammond cannot use his property as much as his neighbor might be able to.  Granger asked if this would be a case of a pre-existing condition that came with the lot.

Hill indicated drainage should be a consideration in this decision, along with snowfall and maintenance issues. 

Johnson indicated that on previous cases like this, if the variance request was reasonable and it didn�t affect the appearance of the neighborhood, the Planning Commission tried to allow the variance.  He does feel this would crowd the house next door. 

Rudney asked what the additional garage stall would be used for.  Hammond it would be used for storage for his boat, motorcycle, and lawn mower.  Kuchenreuther asked about the addition off the back of the existing garage.  She stated she feels an addition could be put onto the back of Hammond�s garage and not violate any ordinances.  Hammond indicated there is a workshop at the back of the garage that is separate from the garage. 

Kuchenreuther indicated she has a hard time understanding how lack of boat storage is more than an inconvenience. 

Hammond indicated one reason he would not be able to add onto the back would be because of drainage issues.  He indicated water drains from Bluebird Court to his back yard and from Thomas north to his back yard, and building back there would cut off that drainage. 

Rudney indicated if the Planning Commission were to deny this request, Hammond could build an 8� garage without a variance. 

Carpenter indicated that given the drainage issues and the information Granger has pointed out she is hard pressed to see why the Planning Commission would approve this request. 

Rudney reiterated he feels that being on a corner lot does give Hammond a disadvantage.  Hoffman commented the Planning Commission has issued variances with 1� setbacks. 

Kuchenreuther asked about the fence in the back yard.  Hammond indicated it runs perpendicular to Thomas Street and turns south around the back portion of his property a few feet.  The entire back yard is not fenced. 


Steven Hammond Variance Request: 

Granger indicated she feels this falls under the category of inconvenience as opposed to a hardship such as undersized lots in the center of town.  Hoffman pointed out this was platted in the 1960�s. 

Johnson suggested a free-standing storage building.  Hammond indicated that really isn�t an option with the lot lines and drainage issue.

Kuchenreuther indicated she feels approving this variance would set a bad precedence in a newer part of town. 

Hammond pointed out the Planning Commission did approve a variance for someone in his neighborhood which allowed them to be 3� from the property line.  Granger indicated that was for a 2nd garage stall. 

Commissioner Carpenter moved to call the question. 

Granger indicated there are reasons for having the setback at 10�.  She feels the rules need to be changed if they don�t fit.  Hoffman indicated he�s not sure how the rules could be changed, because every situation is different.  Granger questioned under what circumstances a request would be denied. 

Carpenter indicated she does not understand the concept of times have changed and we need to allow variances for 2 or 3 car garages.  She feels at some point that has to be stopped because there are concrete reasons for variances.  She feels it�s not about culture, it�s about common sense.

Hoffman stated there would be 16� between these two properties.  Carpenter stated in this area there are 10� setbacks.  There is a reason for the setbacks and they are not arbitrary and capricious. Hoffman indicated then the ordinances need to be changed to disallow variances. 

Johnson asked if the drainage can be diverted.  Hill replied there wouldn�t be a lot of things that could be done to divert the drainage.  Hammond indicated this addition would not change the water flow between his and his neighbor�s houses.  Granger indicated it would add some more impervious surface. 

Commissioner Johnson moved, seconded by Hoffman, to grant this variance as requested.  With three voting in favor, three voting against, and one absent, the motion did not pass.

Kuchenreuther suggested the issue of sideyard setbacks be put on a future agenda.

OTHER BUSINESS:  Future Agenda Items:  Hill indicated he will contact Chairperson Kuchenreuther in the future when the agenda is being prepared.


Zoning:  Hill indicated the Planning Commission needs to finish its work on the City�s ½ mile zoning jurisdiction so that a map can be made. 

Kuchenreuther indicated she feels the City needs to get on track with looking into the possibility of sharing a planner with the county.  Hill and Kuchenreuther will meet to discuss what might make sense for the Planning Commission to work on in the next 6 months.

ADJOURNMENT:  Commissioner Carpenter moved, seconded by Johnson, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:30.

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