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The Regular Meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 21st day of January, 2020, 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, Brands, Kurpiers, Granger, Gades, and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Commissioner Wulf was absent.  Also present were Ex-officio Gullickson, Building Official/Zoning Administrator Jacobson, and City Manager Hill.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 8/20/19 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Gades moved, seconded by Rudney, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting held 8/20/19.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

ELECTION OF CHAIRPERSON AND VICE CHAIRPERSON FOR 2020:  Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Granger, to nominate Chairperson Kuchenreuther as Chair for 2020 and Commissioner Gades as Vice Chairperson for 2020.  With all present voting in favor, motion carried.

OTHER BUSINESSSign Ordinance:  City Manager Hill indicated the sign ordinance appears to allow both electronic advertising signs and business signs on buildings in the downtown area (CBD).  Advertising signs would be a sign that would advertise another business, and business signs would advertise your own business.  Our current ordinance allows an unlimited number of both signs on a business.  Hill's opinion is that a business shouldn't be able do both on the same building, and this should be reflected in the ordinance.  Presently there aren't any buildings that have both. 

Commissioner Kurpiers noted that Town and Country Supply on Atlantic Avenue does have a number of signs on the side of their building advertising the various brands they carry in their store.  With the current ordinance they could cover the whole side of their building with signs.  He asked if the Planning Commission is concerned with the aesthetics of that.  Ex-officio Gullickson asked about the aesthetics of a crumbling building on Atlantic Avenue.  Kurpiers suggested having a ratio of signs to building size.

Gullickson asked what the issue is with the ordinance.  She doesn't feel there are many buildings in Morris where a lot of signs could be put on one building. 

Building Official/Zoning Administrator Jacobson indicated he feels Morris has a very liberal sign ordinance.  He indicated the Police Chief in Benson weighed in on their sign ordinance because of safety issues the signs can cause.

It was the concensus to have Jacobson get the Benson sign ordinance and get sign ordinances from several other cities to compare.

Hill indicated there was recently an inquiry from a contractor about putting solar on a residential property, along with an inquiry from a company working with the USDA Ag Research to install solar on their property. 

Hill indicated the City Code contradicts itself on solar panels.  Performance Standards indicate that Solar Energy Systems require a Conditional Use Permit, and the individual Districts indicate that Solar Energy Systems are permitted in all use districts except commercial.  Hill stated he feels Solar Energy Systems should be a permitted use, but the Performance Standards should be very well thought out.  Things to consider would be setbacks, height restrictions, location, etc.  The City Council has indicated they are in favor of Solar Energy Systems.

Commissioner Brands has Fergus Falls and Northfield's standards on Solar Energy Systems, and will email them to City Hall. 

Commissioner Granger indicated the Tree Board has talked about Solar Energy Systems and are very concerned that a conflict isn't inadvertently set up between trees and Solar Energy Systems.  She reviewed information regarding trees and the benefits they provide.  She feels the value of trees is not clear to everybody.  They are concerned a lot of people will put up solar systems and create a problem for trees. 

The Climate Smart Municipalities Program has created a Sustainability Strategic Plan, and that plan will be provided to the Planning Commission members.

Kuchenreuther asked if the City's Sustainability Project Coordinator would be able to look for information on Solar System ordinances.  Hill indicated that would be possible.  Kurpiers suggested checking with our partners in Germany. 

ADJOURNMENT:  There being no further business, Commissioner Rudney moved, seconded by Brands, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:25.

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