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Planners recommend CPU, zoning changes for marina

Morris Council likely to act on requests Monday

The Morris Planning Commission Wednesday gave positive recommendations to the Morris City Council to move forward with requests by Edgewater Resources to construct a Morris marina.

The commission held three public hearings regarding the project — one for a conditional permitted use to develop a barge terminal for ADM, one for a zoning from residential to manufacturing for 83 acres set to be annexed into the city, and the last on another zoning change from residential to single-family residential of 126 acres to be annexed so houses can be built around a man-made ski lake on the east property.

The entire project is almost 400 acres.

About 20 people were in the audience of the meeting, the majority there for the marina action. The commission approved all three requests. The final approval will be by the city council, which is to vote on it Monday. The council will also hold a public hearing and vote on an annexation agreement for a portion of the property not yet in the city.

RiverPlace Marina is to be located along Cemetery Road and the Illinois River.

The new plan is for seven condominium buildings that are 4 1/2 stories high, totaling 126 condos; five two-story townhomes, totaling 28 townhome units; 52 cottages; 59 floating boat houses; a community clubhouse; a 70-room hotel; 208 marina slips; marina business buildings, including retail, boat sales and boat storage; and 1,023 parking spaces. It also adds a private water-skiing lake with about 25 of its own residences.

Since its original proposal in 2006, RiverPlace has added an additional parcel that includes a partnership with ADM for barge fleeting, as well as 220 acres to the east known as the Viking property. The east property will be where the water-skiing lake will be.

Ronald Schults of Edgewater Resources gave a presentation on the project and said they had addressed concerns from neighbors to the southwest regarding drainage on their property.

A buffer will be placed between the properties and all drainage will be kept on the marina side, he said.

City Planner Mike Hoffman expressed concern with the project needing a second entrance for emergency access. He said this wouldn't be necessary until the project hits about 50 percent of its residential building permits.

A location for a second entrance is still being discussed. It was suggested previously that one should be located in the southwest portion of the property, with possibly a bridge over the canal connecting to Washington Street. A bridge would be expensive though, said Hoffman.

Schults said an alternative is being worked on.

A Cemetery Road resident questioned the amount of truck traffic that would come in with the ADM barge facility and what the effect on the road will then be.

Schults said ADM would initially just be doing barge fleeting, but eventually it wants to put buildings on the property and a dock. There will be semi truck traffic, but he did not believe it would be a significant increase compared to Morris' other ADM facility.

Hoffman said the city would be requesting a traffic study be done to better evaluate the effect on the road.

Another Cemetery Road resident questioned the traffic caused by the hotel and residences and whether a traffic light would be added.

There will be an acceleration and de-acceleration lane for entering and exiting the marina, said Schults, but not a light. A traffic study done in 2006 when the marina first tried to come to Morris did not warrant a light and the project is now significantly smaller, he said.

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