Morrison approves annexation and rezoning for mayor’s property

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By Deborah Swearingen

A 2-acre plot of land on 4th Street in Morrison will be annexed into the town limits and rezoned to allow for up to 10 single-family homes.
The decision was unanimously approved Thursday by the Morrison Town Board.
The property, purchased in 2013 by Mayor Sean Forey and his wife, Celeste, is just south of the Bear Creek Center nursing home and east of the town post office.
While the land could technically fit up to 10 homes in accordance with the zoning, town planner Stephanie Stevens said it’s likely to have less.
“The goal … is to do large-lot, single-family homes. The number is kind of not definite right now,” Stevens said.
From Jamee Chambers’ perspective, annexation of the property just makes sense. In fact, she called it “Morrison’s manifest destiny.”
 “This is already platted. This is already considered to be part of the town. And when they … incorporated the town in 1906 they left out large portions of the town, the plat,” she said.
Chambers is the chairwoman of the Morrison Planning Commission. However, she and her husband also own Chambers Consulting, a professional land surveying firm in Morrison, and she appeared before the board in this capacity as a representative of the Forey family.
Some residents had concerns about the project, though several of these were quelled during the meeting.
“I have to say I’m less horrified at this whole prospect than I was when I first heard development and housing (were) going in there,” said Denise Perkovich, a longtime Morrison resident, in public comment.
“I’m still not happy with the amount of development that has surrounded our town,” she later added, noting she continues to hope Morrison will not evolve into suburbia. “ … People who move up here, live up here choose to live up here because we don’t want to live in the suburbs.”
Overall, Matt Schweich, a Planning Commission member, thought the project was reasonable, but he had concerns about runoff and drainage.  
“It would be nice to see some effort put in to address some of that storm water sooner than later,” he said.

Comprehensive plan amendment
After some debate, board members agreed to move forward with the comprehensive plan amendment process.
Inquiries into property north of town sparked the decision to take a look at the comprehensive plan. The land, which includes 401 Mount Vernon Ave., and 3153 Highway 93, is currently zoned low-density residential and agricultural. Although Forey owns another property in this area, Town Attorney Gerald Dahl said it wasn’t necessary for the mayor to recuse himself from the discussion since the comprehensive plan is simply a guiding document.
Among other things, board members were concerned about the money and time associated with the process. Additionally, they wanted to ensure the plan was reflective of the community.
“I want to make sure that document informs the kind of changes that the community really wants,” board member Katie Gill said.
But in the end, the board concurred that it made sense to move forward with the understanding that the board and the public will play a role in shaping the comprehensive plan. Furthermore, once a new plan is approved, potential developers would still be required to come before the board for zoning matters.
Mostly, the comprehensive plan will provide guidance for potential developers and help them avoid the costs associated with proposing a project that had no chance of being approved.