- PLANNING COMMISSION - REGULAR MEETING - SEPTEMBER 15, 2020
Regular Meeting of the Morris Planning Commission was called to order at 5:15
p.m. this 15th day of September, 2020, via Zoom by Chairperson
OF THE ROLL:
Roll Call was taken with the following members present: Commissioners Gades,
Kurpiers, Wulf, Brands, and Chairperson Kuchenreuther. Commissioner
Granger was absent. Also present were City Manager Hill and Ex-officio
AND APPROVAL OF 8/18/20 REGULAR MEETING MINUTES:
Commissioner Gades moved, seconded
by Wulf, to approve the minutes of the 8/18/20 regular meeting as
presented. Motion carried.
PUBLIC HEARINGS: None.
OTHER BUSINESS: Replacement for Steve
Rudney on the Planning Commission: City Manager Hill indicated that
Melanie Fohl is interested in serving on the Planning Commission.
Commissioner Brands has also talked to the current Housing Inspector about
serving. It was the consensus to have the City Council appoint Melanie
Fohl to fill the unexpired term of Steve Rudney on the Planning Commission.
Solar System Ordinance: Hill has been working on a
draft solar ordinance and has contacted our new Sustainability Project
Coordinator, Chris Watkins, to assist him. Hill shared a Solar Access and
Urban Forestry in Wisconsin, Laws, Conflicts and Potential Solutions
publication with the Planning Commission. He thought it was interesting
that property owners had the right to the sun and the wind, which was something
he hadn't heard of before. Hill looked at our Code and there is information in
our zoning code that needs to be addressed regarding solar because it lends
itself to the general discussion of a neighbor's trees not being allowed to grow
large enough to infringe on the other neighbor's solar system. The City does
have a shade tree ordinance that addresses shade trees and trees in
general. Hill noted that he plans to draft an ordinance and have it
reviewed by the Planning Commission. Hill feels solar systems and
trees can be compatible. There is a cooperative group of property owners
working with a non-profit to be able to put solar on their properties.
It's a regional effort and not necessarily just in Morris. Right now putting
a solar system on a house in Morris is permitted. Hill noted the City
wants to make it as easy as possible for people to be able to put solar on
their property as it's part of the strategic plan that has to do with
sustainable renewable energy. Kuchenreuther feels once an ordinance
it adopted, it would be good to put together a public information brochure for
those considering installing a solar system.
Gullickson stated the biggest
concern the Tree Board has is that a person would have to cut trees down
because their neighbor installed a solar system. Hill feels the City needs
to make sure that doesn't happen, and he doesn't think the solar co-op people
want that to happen either. Coverage, height, setbacks, and location will
be considered when writing the ordinance.
Commissioner Gades asked if the
solar system projects could be added into the building permit process.
Hill indicated he doesn't think it should require any kind of permitting.
Vacant Buildings Rendered Useless: Hill indicated there are
two buildings in town that are almost rendered useless because of their
zoning. Those buildings are the now empty old school bus garage on West 5th
Street, and the old Salvation Army Thrift Store on East 7th
Street. There have been several potential buyers for these properties,
but the current zoning of the buildings has prohibited them from being
Hill stated that when the Planning
Commission worked on the Neighborhood Commercial zone, grandfathering in of
businesses was discussed. Once those businesses go away, so does the
use. The bus garage is in a Residential zone, so there is very limited
use. The old Salvation Army building is in the Neighborhood Commercial
zone, and also allows limited use. He is trying to figure out how to make
these buildings more usable. Commissioner Wulf asked if a variance could
be granted. Hill indicated variances are more for things like setbacks.
Considerable discussion was
held. Spot zoning or a conditional use that pertains to the building
itself were both discussed as options. Hill will check with the League of
Minnesota Cities for ideas also.
Flood Plain: Hill indicated the City
will be required to adopt a floodplain ordinance next year. Morris doesn't
have a lot of area affected.
ADJOURNMENT: Commissioner Gades moved,
seconded by Kurpiers, to adjourn. Motion carried and the meeting
adjourned at 6:05.