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Morris Planning Commission reviews plat for development on Highway 28

MORRIS – On Tuesday, the Morris Planning Commission approved a preliminary plat for a commercial development at the corner of Highway 28 and Highway 9 in Morris.

The property, which is owned by Riley Brothers Properties, was originally platted in 2006. The new plat changes the size of the lots on the property and adds a frontage road on the north side of Highway 28.

There will be three access points to the development, one on Highway 9 south of Park Avenue, one on Highway 28 near the old Coborn’s building, and one on Highway 28 extending Columbia Avenue.

City Manager Blaine Hill said representatives from the Minnesota Department of Transportation were nervous about having cars stopped to turn off the highway.

Under an agreement with MNDOT and the developers, MNDOT will purchase an extra 25 feet of right-of-way to rebuild Highway 28 with a center turn lane, perhaps in 2015.

Tom Klemenhagen, project manager with engineering firm Landteam Incorporated, said the property needed to be replatted to accommodate MNDOT’s requests and to resize some lots for particular uses.  

One four-acre size at the corner of Highway 9 and Highway 28 may be a new home for Heartland Motor Company, said Klemenhagen. Other 14 lots range in size from about one acre up to five acres.

The Planning Commission had a long discussion about whether there should be sidewalks along the roads in the plat.

Klemenhagen said there is room to add sidewalks and they could prepare the area for future sidewalks, but was concerned about how sidewalks would be paid for.

“It’s getting to the point where this might go away again and I don’t know if the city really wants that,” said Klemenhagen. “I know you want to do what’s right for the community, but this is an expensive project. … It’s going to be a long time until these lots are sold out and you don't get any money back until the lots are sold out.”
“We want it to succeed with a number of businesses,” said planning commission member Sue Granger. “If you’re planning ahead and trying to do it right, it seems good to put a sidewalk in or make a provision for it.”

Hill said requirements for sidewalks would probably come down to a city council decision, rather than a provision in the plat as long as there is space for a sidewalk.

Ultimately, the planning commission recommended the preliminary plat to the Morris City Council with a recommendation to review the sidewalks in the area.

The planning commission also asked Hill to discuss adding a pedestrian crossing on Highway 28 at Columbia Avenue with MNDOT.

The preliminary plat will be reviewed by the Morris City Council on Tuesday, May 27. If it is approved, a final plat will need to be approved by the planning commission and the city council in June.