The sale is finally complete and we now know the new owner of the Morris Floral building in Morris. Joe Riley purchased the building from Chris Melberg and is making plans for demolition there.
City Manager Blaine Hill informed the Morris City Council about the sale at their meeting on April 12. He added that he is working with Joe Riley to find some development grants that could be used to build something on the site. There have been no official plans for what will be built there.
In another building sale proposal, Hill stated that they have been getting a lot of phone calls with questions about the old school bus garage buildings. He said that almost all of the calls are about possibly using the two buildings for storage. According to the city zoning ordinances, the buildings cannot be used for storage. If one of the buildings is converted to a residence, then the owner could store their own property in the other building.
The council members questioned this a bit as there are other locations within the city where people do store things for others. Councilman Brian Solvie said “we can’t just go in there (personal property) and look at what is stored there.” He added that if this is done for one it would open it up to other properties.
One councilman noted that there are apartment buildings with garages and the garages are used for storage for the owners and maybe other people. Hill said that according to the residential zoning ordinance, storage is allowed as an accessory use for the primary use which in this case would be the single or two-family residence, but it could be the owner.
City Attorney Aaron Jordan clarified it somewhat by saying “think of it as a house and a garage, both for your own personal use.”
“I just want to stress,” Solvie stated, “that if someone does buy it, we can’t just go in there and look at what is there.”
The prospective buyers needed to have their offers in by April 12 for the Morris Area School Board to consider. Hill said that any potential buyer would need to apply for a building permit unless they plan to do nothing. At that point the city would be able to know what the proposed use would be.
The city council members also approved a resolution to elect the standard allowance available under the revenue loss provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Hill stated that he had just learned about this new rule which would allow for the taking of a standard deduction up to $10 million in lieu of documenting revenue loss. This means there are other uses for the money. Basically, the ARPA funding can now be used without documentation of its use.
“This means the remaining money we have can be used for almost anything to include local share of other projects and not just water and sewer,” Hill explained.
The City of Morris has about $280,000 of unused money from the ARPA funding but some may still be committed.
The City Council members approved buying out the lease for the 2017 Chevy Volt. The city just made the final lease payment on the vehicle. Taking into consideration the value of used vehicles, the council decided to keep the vehicle and use it for city needs or it could be sold on the open market. The buy out amount was $18,641.50.
Hill reported that all of the open city positions have now been filled and they will have a full staff by early May.
The council members also approved looking into possible grants to replace the Automated Weather Observation System at the Morris Airport. With all the work being done there this summer, this would be a good time to also do this update. Hill will be putting together a grant application to do this.
It was noted at the next city council meeting set for April 26, there will be the second reading of the ordinance for annexation.