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Council approves annexation deal for Premier site

Agreement mandates changes to B-3 zone once city completes updates

The Morris City Council approved moving forward with an annexation of about four acres that will ultimately be the new home of Premier Academy.

The land is owned by Funk Helland Land LLC. Monday, the city council unanimously approved the annexation agreement, the ordinance annexing the property, and the zoning change from Residential to Business-4.

After the Planning Commission met last week, it was decided to change the annexation agreement to include that, after the city finishes its zoning amendments, the property would change to B-3.

Premier Academy will be leasing the buildings on the property. The buildings used to belong to a Baptist church that also had a high school academy, so one of the buildings has a gym. The buildings are currently being remodeled.

The project should be completed by Dec. 1, and the plan is to move the school in over Christmas break. After Christmas break, the kids should be attending school there said Paul Nordstrom, Regional Superintendent of Schools, previously. 

During the Planning Commission meeting, two members of the public objected to the B-4 zoning, said City Attorney Scott Belt to the council. This resulted in the agreement change requiring the zoning change in the future.

"The concern was with the B-4. For years it's been a district where questionable uses are, (such as) sexually orientated businesses, telecommunication towers and billboards," said Bill Cheshareck, building and zoning officer, after the meeting.

"They are all for the school. They just prefer B-3 zoning that wouldn't allow for questionable uses in their neighborhood," he said.

The council was given a signed note with six signatures objecting to the B-4.

The city's Planning Commission is currently working on amending the city's zoning codes, condensing and specifying uses. Once this is complete, the owner of the property will return for a zoning change to B-3, which will be more fitting.

This is anticipated in 60 to 90 days, said Belt.

The approval of the agreement and the annexation ordinance required the addition of the mayor's vote. They were approved unanimously, with Aldermen Randy Larson and Barry Aldrich absent.

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