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MINUTES - PLANNING COMMISSION-REGULAR MEETING - FEBRUARY 18, 2020

The Regular Meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15 p.m. this 18th day of February, 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 Brands, Gades, Granger, Kurpiers, and Chairperson Kuchenreuther.  Commissioners Rudney and Wulf were absent. City Manager Hill was also present.

READING AND APPROVAL OF 1/21/2020 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:  Commissioner Kurpiers moved, seconded by Gades, to approve the minutes of the 1/21/2020 regular meeting as presented.  With all voting in favor, motion carried.

PUBLIC HEARINGS:  None.

OTHER BUSINESSRespectful Workplace Policy:  City Manager Hill explained that the City Council recently passed a Respectful Workplace Policy, and the Planning Commission is covered by this Policy.

Advertising Signs - Central Business District:  Hill thinks advertising signs should not be  allowed in the Central Business District (CBD) unless they are advertising a product or service at that location.  At this point there are none in the CBD.

Commissioner Granger noted that several of those types of advertising signs are on the fringes of the CBD and may affect people living close by that typically don't have a lot of money.  She feels the Planning Commission should be mindful of that.

Chairperson Kuchenreuther indicated she would like to take the time to look at and compare Benson's sign ordinance to Morris's and come back to the Planning Commission and discuss it.  It was the consensus of the Planning Commission to do this.  This item was tabled until the Planning Commission meets again.

Solar Systems and Equipment Allowances and Requirements:  The Planning Commission perused Fergus Falls and Northfield's Solar System ordinances.  Commissioner Brands noted that neither addresses trees.

Considerable discussion was held regarding height, yard coverage and trees with respect to solar systems. 

Kurpiers indicated he feels a percentage of lot coverage rather than a set square footage of coverage would make the most sense, given the varying lot sizes. 

Hill suggested that language be added noting that anything containing new technology that is not addressed by the City Code would come to the Planning Commission.

Kuchenreuther would like to get something in the new language dealing with the rights of trees.  Hill agreed that the last thing the Planning Commission wants to do is give someone the right to get rid of trees.   

Solar farms were discussed.  Hill indicated the County is currently updating their zoning ordinances and he thinks they are addressing solar farms.  A few good solar farm locations would be the landfill and by the Industrial Park.  Both Fergus Falls and Northfield allow solar farms in their farm districts.  Kurpiers indicated his hesitation with allowing solar farms in the RF district would be long term zoning, and what that would look like.  Kuchenreuther feels that if a solar farm is anywhere near a residential district, it has to be screened.  Hill believes they should be screened even if they're not by a residential district. 

Commissioner Brands feels drainage should be addressed by solar farms if they are free standing.  Granger also feels impervious surfaces should be addressed.

It was the consensus to continue working on this at the next meeting.

ADJOURNMENT:  Commissioner Granger moved, seconded by Brands, to adjourn.  Motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 6:15.

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