Morenci planning commission 2014.01.22

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci Planning Commission members voted to move one issue on to city council and continued discussion on four other matters.

Planners voted 4-0 to move a proposed wind turbine ordinance on to city council for its consideration. Members present were Sean Seger, Brad Frederick, Lowell Oberhaus and Bill Foster. City administrator/clerk Michael Sessions also attended the meeting.

Large wind turbines would be allowed on parcels of five acres or more and towers would be limited to 200 feet in height. Blades should come no closer than 25 feet from the ground. 

The required setback from property lines and other objects is at least 100 percent of the total height of the turbine. Noise should not exceed 65 decibels.

Small wind turbines, not exceeding 75 feet in height, are permitted on parcels of at least two acres. A setback of at least the height of the structure is required.

A public hearing would be required before the ordinance becomes law.

DESIGN STANDARDS—Frederick said he doesn't want an ordinance to be overly restrictive so it would deter a property owner from taking action. 

"But we don't want someone putting up a pole building downtown or using recycled materials [to cover a building]," he said. 

Frederick said there's a building in a nearby community that's covered with a variety of used metal siding.

"Without an ordinance," he said, "we couldn't prevent that."

Oberhaus cautioned about becoming too restrictive, stating that he wouldn't want to discourage someone from moving into Morenci. He said he would rather see metal siding than rotting wood.

Foster wondered how the building that was constructed on the site of the former Gambles store building would fit into design standards.

Frederick asked Sessions to review standards set in other communities and make suggestions for Morenci. He urged commissioners to take action soon in order to protect what exists now.

Sessions acknowledged that a fine line exists between protecting the integrity of the downtown and creating an ordinance that business owners would find restrictive.

FENCES—Planners have in the past discussed changing the city's fence ordinance to remove the requirement that a fence has to be placed 18 inches off the property line. The ordinance was created to deal with a property dispute many years ago in which a fence owner could not gain access to a fence for maintenance.

Disputes will arise whether or not the 18-inch rule is in effect, Frederick said. He suggested listing the requirement two ways: Use an 18-inch setback unless approval from the neighbor is received. 

He suggested obtaining a notarized easement. That could be filed at city hall, Foster said, in case the property is sold to a new owner.

ORDINANCE—Sessions told planners that a new planning commission ordinance governing how the group operates is needed. There are a lot of simple changes to make, Sessions said, but it's something that should have been done years ago.

He will bring a suggested overhaul to the Feb. 20 meeting.

MASTER PLAN—The city is also overdue in creating a master plan, Sessions said. He suggested studying Milan's plan that he described as simple but effective. Sessions said help can be obtained from the Region II planning commission.

A current plan—a document used to guide the community's growth and development into the future—is essential, Sessions said, because certain grants will require that plan be in place.

Sessions will present one section of the plan at each of the next few planning commission meetings. 

VACANCIES—Anyone interested in serving on the planning commission should call city hall. Meetings are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month.