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Morrison holding off on comprehensive plan decision

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By Deborah Swearingen

Morrison Town Board is taking some more time to think about whether or not it wants to move forward with a comprehensive plan amendment and potentially rezone property in the northwest portion of town.
Inquiries into property north of town sparked the decision to take a look at the comprehensive plan and possibly rezone the town’s commercial district to include 401 Mount Vernon Ave., and 3153 Highway 93, which are currently zoned low-density residential and agricultural. Although Mayor Sean Forey’s property is in this area, Town Attorney Gerald Dahl said it was not necessary for Forey to recuse himself from the discussion since the comprehensive plan is simply a guiding document.
The comprehensive plan was adopted in 2008 and includes amendments through 2015. The 62-page document outlines a vision for the town and divides it into three planning areas: the east planning area in the Rooney Valley, the central planning area in Old Town Morrison and the south planning area in the Morrison Valley. It sets goals for each planning area and looks into goals, policies and strategies for economic and commercial development, public improvements, water resources and more.
The proposal to amend this plan has drawn mixed reactions from Morrison residents. In a Sept. 11 community workshop, a survey showed that the 18 residents in attendance felt differently about whether to proceed. According to a report from town planner Stephanie Stevens, 59 percent supported a comprehensive plan amendment and a town-initiated rezoning to allow more flexibility. However, her report says a community-wide survey, which ended on Oct. 22, showed a majority of respondents were opposed to an amendment and rezoning.
On Nov. 13, the Planning Commission recommended moving forward with the process. Some Morrison Town Board members were inclined to agree with their decision, but others preferred to take some time to think before reaching a conclusion.
Board member Paul Sutton asked whether it might be a possibility to leave the zoning as is and require property owners to come in and request changes.
“It’s so small, what’s the problem with dealing with these questions on a one-off basis in terms of a zoning change for each property?” Sutton asked in a Nov. 20 board meeting.
To this, Town Manager Kara Winters said there wouldn’t be a problem for the town but that it could create a financial challenge for the property owners looking to develop.
“The only thing is the property owner spends all the money to go through that process and they may not get approval,” she said.
In the end, it’s the town’s decision, and Winters referenced Runners High, a new running store in the old Red Rocks Wedding Chapel, as an example of Sutton’s suggestion working. In that case, a couple purchased the property and was successful in going through the town’s rezoning process.
Ultimately, the board decided to table the measure and take more time to consider it. The comprehensive plan amendment will return to the agenda at the start of the new year.