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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 March, 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, Livingston, Kurpiers, Hoffman, 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 2/18/14 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Livingston, to approve the minutes of the 2/18/14 regular meeting as presented.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  Morris Community Church Conditional Use Permit Request:  This hearing is on a request for a Conditional Use to allow a church in the Central Business District (CBD) zone pursuant to Section 11.31, Subd. 2, C (1) of the Morris City Code.  This request is by Morris Community Church, and the subject parcel is located at 108 East 6th Street, Morris, legally described as Block 27, Lot 12, Original Town, and Block 27, Lot 11, Original Town, parcel numbers 20-0355-000 and 20-0354-000. 

City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill indicated this building is the former Legacy Living and Morris Sun Tribune building.  He noted churches are allowed as conditional uses in the Central Business District.  The only issue he has with this request is the lack of required off street parking for this use.  The requirement is one parking space for every 10 seats in the church.  They are looking at 150 seats maximum, so 15 parking spaces are required. 

Hill did receive a comment from a property owner across the alley from this building that did not think a church was a good use of the property in the Central Business District.

Commissioner Rudney noted the property across the street from this was a funeral home for decades, which created a lot of traffic.  This church would create traffic mostly on Sunday mornings, and there is a lot of parking available along California Avenue. 

Chairperson Kuchenreuther explained the Planning Commission holds a hearing on conditional use permits, can apply conditions as it sees fit, and then makes a recommendation to the City Council on the conditional use permit.  The City Council actually grants the conditional use permit. 

The Pastor of Morris Community Church, Pat Franey, 409 West 7th Street, passed out photos of the subject area that were taken Sunday morning.  He indicated they do have an agreement with the law firm to the north of their property to share their parking lot, which has 25 parking spaces.  He noted they would use the lot mostly on Sunday mornings.  He also had a conversation with First Lutheran Church regarding the use of First Lutheran�s parking lot to the south of the subject property.

Pastor Paul Erdal of First Lutheran Church at 200 East 5th Street, (home address 248 South Columbia Avenue) indicated the church council has discussed this. He indicated they rarely use the parking lot behind the subject property, and their Church council will try work out an agreement with the Morris Community Church regarding the lot – either by granting permission to use the lot, rental of the lot, or sale of the lot.  They are not sure which route they will go, but the commitment is there to do something.  He estimated they use 1/3 of the lot on Sundays.  He noted they also have an agreement to use the Courthouse lot.

Commissioner Kurpiers asked how many spaces are in the First Lutheran lot.  Franey estimated there are 24 spaces.  Kuchenreuther asked if the First Lutheran lot can be used during the week.  Erdal indicated they would be allowed to use it during the week.  Rudney asked if it would be an issue for First Lutheran if they sold the lot to Morris Community Church.  Erdal indicated their attendance is about 150 so parking would not be an issue if the lot were sold. 

Kuchenreuther asked about signage plans.  Franey indicated they have not yet looked into signage.  Kuchenreuther indicated in other cases regarding signage, the Planning Commission has discussed bleed of light at night, and indicated the Planning Commission may put conditions on lighting.  Rudney indicated night sky compliant lighting may be required.

Thomas Meyer, 611 Idaho, indicated he is an attorney at the law firm to the north of the subject property and doesn�t feel allowing Morris Community Church to use their parking lot would be an issue as not many cars use the lot.

Paul Hendricks, 42770 State Highway 28, indicated the church has the same concern as everybody else regarding parking, and noted they have been taking pictures and the surrounding lots are fairly empty Sunday mornings.

Spencer Tiernan, 200 East 6th Street, indicated he is a direct neighbor to this property as he lives one block from First Lutheran Church and is kitty corner to the old Morris Community Church property.  He feels as a neighbor this is completely feasible as far as the parking goes.

Sal Monteagudo, 109 East 3rd Street, stated he will probably ride his bike to church.

Erdal indicated the tenor of the First Lutheran Church council was they were excited to have neighbors in the neighborhood that are brothers and sisters in Christ. 

As there was no further public comment, the public hearing was closed and brought back to the Planning Commission for consideration.

Rudney indicated he feels the parking issue is amply covered and the only possible issue would be night sky compliant lighting and signage. 

Hill indicated most new lighting now is night sky compliant.  As for signage, this location is in a Central Business District and he doesn�t feel there would be an issue of a sign shining into a residential area.  He stated when the Church wants to erect a sign they will be required to get a sign permit, and all signage issues will be considered at that time.

Commissioner Hoffman pointed out the regulations in the Central Business District are very liberal as far as signage, and feels it is a lot easier to address the issue now rather than later.

Kuchenreuther indicated the only objection she could find with this request is that the City will lose a tax paying entity in the Central Business District.  Ex-officio Miller indicated he feels it is good to use an existing building. 

Kurpiers suggested a condition be included in the Conditional Use Permit that the church maintain an agreement for access to parking or ownership of a lot of off street parking spaces.  Hill felt that was a good idea.

Commissioner Livingston moved, seconded by Rudney, to recommend the Conditional Use Permit for Morris Community Church with the only condition being that they either maintain an agreement to rent or purchase property so they can meet the requirements for off street parking based on attendance.  Hoffman asked if the church would have to cease to operate if they can�t maintain an agreement for parking.  Hill indicated he feels the Planning Commission needs to be satisfied at this time that they have the agreement for parking.  With four Commissioners voting in favor and Commissioner Hoffman abstaining, motion carried.

OTHER BUSINESS:  Neighborhood Commercial District:  Hill indicated the City Council has adopted the Ordinance to establish the Neighborhood Commercial District.

On-Line Auction Site Update:  Hill indicated he has met with Ron and Derrick Gausman regarding a K-Bid Auction site on the property at 1100 Atlantic Avenue, which is currently West Central Implement.  K-Bid is a company that licenses auction sites.  There are K-Bid sites in Alexandria and Benson, and Hill requested that the Gausmans take pictures of some other K-Bid sites so the City has an idea of what they look like.  Hill indicated he questions if the West Central Implement site is the right site for this use.  He stated West Central Implement is licensed to sell vehicles, and they do sell off road vehicles.  They are grandfathered in to the I1 zone with that business.  The key language in the City Code is that selling your items to other people is allowed, but if you are selling someone else�s items then the lot has to be fenced.

Miller asked how big Gausman�s lot is.  Hill indicated he is not sure.  Hill pointed out the only way to allow this would be a language change in the Code.  He noted the property is adjacent to Highway Business, so it could be changed to that also. 

Kurpiers stated that regardless of how the business is run, he does not think that is an attractive use for that location.  Kuchenreuther agreed it is not very welcoming. 

Zion Lutheran Sign:  This will be discussed at the April meeting.

Morris Community Church Conditional Use Permit Request:  Hoffman noted he has an afterthought on the Conditional Use Request considered earlier at this meeting.  He feels by allowing a church in the subject spot there is one less place for someone to have a business in the Central Business District. 

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 6:10.

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