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Riley Brothers may present school property plans in October

MORRIS, Minn. -- Riley Bros. Properties, one of four companies that have expressed interest in developing the old elementary school property, is working with INH Properties, a St. Cloud-based developer, to develop a plan to present to the Morris City Council.

City Manager Blaine Hill told the council Tuesday that he’d met with John Riley of Riley Bros. Properties and with Mike Stoebe, a partner with INH Properties, about the project.

“They’re taking a look at what kind of proposal they can put together and they’re not prepared right now to make that proposal,” said Hill.

Hill estimated the companies would be ready to present to the city council sometime in October. Before any sale is final, there will be a public hearing on the proposals.

Planning Commission will hear input on zoning change

The Morris Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 5:20 p.m. to hear public input on a city council request to re-zone property along East Seventh Street to allow for commercial businesses.

In 2011, the planning commission and city council approved a new zoning map for the city. Under the new map, the area along East Seventh Street between Columbia Avenue and Iowa Avenue was changed from a highway business district to a residential district.

Last month, business owners approached the city council to request the zoning designation be changed back. Although their businesses are grandfathered in, they cannot convert property to a different business or sell it to someone who would change the business.

The city council directed the planning commission to revisit the zoning for the area.

City Manager Blaine Hill told the council Tuesday that members of the planning commission were considering creating a new residential/commercial zoning district that may work better in the area.

Council member Jeff Miller, an ex-officio member of the planning commission, said the goal would be to create a zone that is neighborhood friendly with limited traffic and limited noise.

After the public hearing in October, the planning commission will make a recommendation to the city council about how to proceed.

Other business

• The council approved gifting the cornerstone from the old elementary school building to the Stevens County Historical Society. The cornerstone is currently sitting behind the Stevens County Museum.

• The council authorized city staff to transfer $53,098 leftover from the fund for a 2012 project on Pacific Avenue into a fund for an planned storm sewer project on Oregon Avenue. The Oregon Avenue project was originally planned for 2014, but delays in getting the engineering done mean it will likely wait until 2015.

• The council approved an amendment to the legal services agreement with Stevens County. The city will pay $37,000 per year for County Attorney Aaron Jordan to serve as the city attorney for Morris.

• The council will hold a work session on Thursday, Oct. 24 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss the city’s 2014 budget and levy.