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

READING AND APPROVAL OF 1/21/14 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Livingston, to approve the minutes of the 1/21/14 Regular Meeting as presented.  Motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGSPublic Hearing on New Zoning District (Neighborhood Commercial District), Change of Zoning Map, and Addition to Performance Standards:  Chairperson Kuchenreuther explained this public hearing is on a proposed zoning district that is identified as the Neighborhood Commercial District.  This hearing also includes a change in the zoning map along with an addition to the Performance Standards. 

Kuchenreuther indicated the Planning Commission wants to hear as many comments as the public may have.  She opened the public hearing at 5:18 p.m.

Bill Stewart, 401 West 9th Street, asked about a ring road around Morris that was discussed a while back.  This road would direct traffic away from the center of Morris.  Kuchenreuther explained that discussion is not under consideration with this zoning change. 

Don Werk, 615 East 7th Street, indicated he has a couple of concerns.  His first concern has to do with Subd. 1 Purpose of the proposed ordinance.  It states the uses in this district are restricted to limit adverse impacts on nearby residential areas.  He indicated the businesses were located here before the residential areas.  Kuchenreuther pointed out there are residential uses behind East 7th Street.  She stated the fact there will be new development across East 7th Street was taken into consideration.  

Werk asked about the language in Subd. 2 that states no building or land shall be used and no building shall be hereafter erected, structurally altered, or converted or enlarged unless otherwise provided herein�  Kuchenreuther explained that as long as a person does not change the footprint or convert the building into a use that is not permitted, then it is fine.

Werk asked what small scale automotive agencies are that are listed as a permitted use in Subd. 2.A.12.  Kuchenreuther indicated it would be a small business that does not take up more than 3 lots.  Werk asked why he would want to make any changes to his business.  Kuchenreuther pointed out his business would be grandfathered in, and he would not be required to change his business.  Hill pointed out as long as a permitted use is being conducted, the building can be altered as long as it conforms to the setback regulations, etc. 

Werk commented on the setbacks.  He feels the front yard setback at 25� is too much and feels it could be reduced if businesses used diagonal parking in front of their buildings.  He also feels the sideyard setback should be 5�. 

Werk asked about Brown Wilbert Vault Company.  Hill indicated the only way to keep their property conforming would be to spot zone it to an industrial use.  He indicated they are a non-conforming use and can continue, however they would not be able to expand.  Werk asked if the City is planning to accommodate them down the road with some kind of exception.  Hill indicated at this point they do not need anything.

Werk pointed out East 7th Street is a State Aid street and trucks are allowed to travel down that street.  Hill indicated that is correct.  Kuchenreuther indicated businesses with a lot of truck traffic are not being encouraged to relocate to this area.    

Kuchenreuther indicated this zone is meant to be a compromise between the existing Highway Business uses and a change to a more Residential area. 

Sid Wilcox, 210 Montana, indicated he has lived and done business in Morris for a long time, and he feels the City is driving businesses out of town.  He commented on the duplexes that are on East 8th Street that were moved in from Chokio, and how they pertain to #3 of Permitted Uses (Accessory).  Commissioner Kurpiers pointed out those are not single family dwellings.  Rudney pointed out B. Permitted Uses (Accessory) are just that – accessory uses, and they are different than primary uses.  He also noted the City does not have a limit on the number of tenants in a rental unit.  Hoffman pointed this is the same all over town and is not unique to this district. 

Wilcox noted the setback requirements, and asked about the sideyard setback of 10�.  Hill noted the 10� sideyard setback is the same as in the Highway Business district. 

Wilcox indicated he wants a firm commitment from the Planning Commission tonight that they are going to enforce the screening requirements as listed in Subd. 2.D.6.  Kuchenreuther indicated if there is an existing business that is grandfathered in, screening will not be required.  Kurpiers pointed out different zoning districts have different requirements.  Hill noted the screening requirements proposed in this new zone are the same as in the current Highway Business zone, except this gives the Planning Commission the authority to permit a lesser degree of screening. 

Commissioner Hoffman explained there has never been any intention of trying to run anyone out of town.  He indicated he feels the new NC District is much less restrictive

than the HB zone.  Kuchenreuther indicated the Planning Commission had a lot of public feedback about the zoning districts after the last hearing, and she feels the Commission was receptive to the concerns about multifamily zoning.  She feels the Commission has to be cognizant of today and tomorrow, and it is just trying to do its best.  Kurpiers agreed there was no intent on the Planning Commission�s part to try run anyone out of town.  He reiterated that everything is grandfathered in, and this change from RM to NC vastly opens up the possibilities for businesses.

Kevin Wohlers, 301 East 8th Street, indicated he feels the Planning Commission has come a long way from last October when this issue first came up, and feels a reasonable compromise has been developed for everyone.  He questioned how #15 (on and off sale liquor establishments) under Conditional Use Permits fits in with a residential neighborhood.  Rudney indicated this includes restaurants that serve alcohol.  Kuchenreuther indicated this also would allow small brew pubs that serve food and alcohol.  Ex-officio Miller pointed out this would require a conditional use permit.  Hill noted that language from the Residential District, Highway Business District, and Central Business District was used when developing language for this new zone.  Kuchenreuther noted that because a conditional use permit is required for this type of business, hours of operation and other items can be controlled.

Paul Lesmeister, 513 East 9th Street, asked what happens if he sells his business and the new owner wants to change the footprint of the building.  Kuchenreuther indicated that would be allowed if it�s a permitted use and meets the ordinance requirements.  Lesmeister asked if the new owner would have to make the building conform.  Hill noted that would depend on the space and what it is they wanted to do. 

Sheldon Giese, 307 East 7th, commended the Planning Commission for the hard work they have done on this issue.  He stated he appreciates the Planning Commission�s work on the new district. 

There being no further public comment, the hearing was closed at 6:10. 

Commissioner Rudney indicated he didn�t see any changes that need to be made.  Rudney then moved, seconded by Livingston, to send the Neighborhood Commercial District Ordinance to the City Council.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Hill noted that if the City Council were to make any changes to the proposed ordinance, the amendment would then come back to the Planning Commission for review and consideration.

Conditional Use Permit Application for Morris Community Church:  Hill indicated the Morris Community Church is interested in purchasing the old newspaper office on East 6th Street and has submitted a conditional use permit application to use that facility as a church.   This will be on the March meeting agenda.

On Line Auction Business:  Hill noted he had an inquiry about starting an online auction business at the current West Central Implement site on Atlantic Avenue.  The issue is that they are interested in allowing consignment items to be dropped off at their site to be viewed.  This is something that is not addressed in the City Code.  This will be discussed at the March meeting.

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Hoffman, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:21.

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