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The Regular Meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 15th day of September, 2015, by Chairperson Kuchenreuther in the Council Chambers of the Morris Senior Citizen's/Community Center.

CALL OF THE ROLL:  Roll call was taken with the following members present:  Commissioners Kurpiers, Granger, Livingston, Rudney, Gades, and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Commissioner Hoffman was absent.  Also present were ex-officio Miller and City Manager/Zoning Administrator Hill.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 8/18/15 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  The first sentence of the 2nd paragraph on page 3 reads, "Livingston indicated he does not have an issue with the Christus House sign being lit reasonably early."  Chairperson Kuchenreuther asked Livingston to clarify what he meant by that.  Commissioner Livingston indicated he meant that to mean he wouldn't have an issue with them having their sign lit until 9 p.m.  Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Kurpiers, to approve the minutes of the 8/18/15 regular meeting with the noted addition.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.


OTHER BUSINESSFinal Plat - Old Elementary School Property First Addition:  The final plat has not changed since the preliminary plat was approved.  Hill indicated there is no drainage easement between Lots 2 and 3 in case someone wants to buy both lots and build over the lot line.  He noted that all of the property has to be drained into a drainage system that goes down the hill into the pond in Outlot A. 

Granger asked about the sidewalk that was discussed.  Hill noted any sidewalks would be outside of the property lines in the public right of way.

Commissioner Gades moved, seconded by Rudney, to recommend that the City Council approve the final plat of the Old Elementary School Property First Addition.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

Update - Sign Ordinance Language:  Hill indicated he made a few modifications from the changes he suggested last month.  The term "Residence District" will be changed to "R" and "RM".  He is also suggesting that the maximum size of Home Occupation and Non-Commercial signs be changed from 3 square feet to 6 square feet in the residential zone, which is about the size of a real estate sign.  Kuchenreuther indicated St. Paul allows 2 square foot signs for home occupation signs in the residential zone, and Northfield allows 6 square feet.  Commissioner Granger indicated she didn't find any cities that allow anything over a 3 square foot home occupation sign in a residential zone.

Kuchenreuther suggested that "electronic display surface" be defined.  Hill indicated it is the content of any sign created through electricity.  Hill indicated the display surface he is talking about is the actual sign, and not the holder of the sign.  Kuchenreuther indicated most ordinances that she found talk about the dimensions that include the holder.  Hill noted the Commission needs to look at where Morris is, and what is reasonable and acceptable in our City.  He doesn't feel a 6 square foot home occupation sign in a residential zone is unreasonable.  Granger doesn't feel home occupation sign sizes should be changed.  Hill noted that from his perspective he doesn't want to enforce 3 square foot home occupation signs.  Granger indicated she doesn't feel there is a crying need to enlarge home occupation signs.  She feels they will succeed without 6 square foot signs.  She feels the quality of life in residential areas in town need to be protected.  She feels the City needs to accommodate the Christus House and not enlarge signs in the residential areas. 

Gades indicated he doesn't feel the difference between and 3 square foot and 6 square foot sign is that big of a deal.  Hill indicated he feels the City needs to stay consistent for the people enforcing the ordinances.  Kurpiers indicated he feels the point is that the current language does not work, so let's fix it.

Granger reviewed information in the Comprehensive Plan that talks about protecting residential neighborhoods.  She indicated these changes don't have anything to do with the Christus House sign problem.  Hill noted we changed the size of the ID signs taking out the 1/10 of a square foot for every linear foot of your property and changing it to allowing a 30 square foot sign.  He feels having a standard size sign for all properties makes more sense than having to do the calculation of the 1/10 of a square foot for every linear foot of property.  Hill noted we are changing the home occupation signs because we are changing the allowed sizes of identification signs.  Granger suggested allowing 30 square foot identification signs for churches, schools, hospitals, similar institutions or residential subdivisions.

Hill feels the word "home" in the definition of Identification Signs is talking about a rest home, and not a residential home. 

Granger pointed out that the General Regulations say in a residential neighborhood a person can only have a non-commercial sign which is a sign setting forth a trespassing regulation, the private nature of a driveway, a danger warning or a similar type of message.   She asked if they can be 6 square feet also.  She feels 3 square feet is adequate for that.  It was the consensus to leave home occupation signs at 3 square feet maximum in size, and change the word "home" to "rest home".

Kuchenreuther saw quite a number of discussions of sign illumination in her research in R districts that allow the sign to only be illuminated from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., or only when the business was operating.  She feels in the R zone that is entirely reasonable, and easy to enforce.   Rudney indicated he would think in the case of the hospital that operates 24-hours a day, they could stay lit.  Kuchenreuther indicated that would have to be an exception.  Granger suggested language that states no illuminated signs are permitted in a Residential zone except for churches, schools, hospitals or similar institutions. 

Hill indicated the City reserves the right to control illumination in the Residential zone to include the hours of operations and the actual illumination, so if it ends up being a problem something can be done about it. 

Number 5 on the last page should be changed to 6, and number 5 will read, "No illuminated signs are permitted in an R or RM District in the city except for churches, schools, hospitals or similar institutions." 

Granger suggested adding "Larger signs for churches, schools, hospitals and similar institutions may be considered as part of a conditional use permit".   Hill indicated he doesn't feel conditions on Conditional Use Permits should include signs, as the City has a sign ordinance.  Granger indicated this language was included in other cities' sign ordinances, which gives latitude for uncommon and very large institutions.  Kurpiers indicated an exception may be made for larger facilities or distance view issues. 

In R Districts the Planning Commission is recommending that illuminated signs be allowed for churches, schools, hospitals and similar institutions; also in the sign ordinance conditional use language, add larger signs for churches, schools, hospitals and similar institutions may be considered as part of a conditional use permit; home occupation signs in the R District be limited to 3 square feet; and regulation may include the hours of illumination and/or the level of illumination.

Kuchenreuther asked about double-faced signs.  Hill indicated that is one sign.

As for the Christus House, Hill indicated they are just a non-conforming use and they can turn their light back on as long as it's not a nuisance. 

Hill will redraft the ordinance and bring it to the City Council.

Update - K-Bid Auction Site:  Hill indicated the Gausmans have cleaned up the site, however, one of the conditions of the conditional use permit was that Ron and Derek Gausman own the property.  At this time they are not the owners.  The Gausmans asked if a purchase agreement would suffice.  The City Attorney indicated a purchase agreement does not establish a legal arrangement for ownership.  Commissioner Livingston left at 6:22.  Ex-officio Miller pointed out they can still hold auctions inside buildings, and another option would be to have the current owners apply for a conditional use permit for the Auction Site. 

Car Dealership Lights:  Commissioner Granger asked about the lights at the new car dealership at the corner of Highways 28 and 59.  She called owner Dan Dripps and he said they have a dimmer on them and they will have a timer on them as well.  Hill indicated their lights will be dark sky compliant.

ADJOURNMENT:  Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Kurpiers, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:32.

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