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Second-hand stores receive a second look

Council goes against planners, makes resale stores ‘permitted’

The Morris City Council disagreed with the Planning Commission’s zoning changes for second-hand stores downtown and changed the ordinance before approving it Monday.

During the council’s regular meeting, it heard a recommendation from the Planning Commission for an amendment to the city’s municipal code changing the definition of permitted uses and conditional permitted uses in its business districts.

The commission’s changes focused on what categories of businesses are considered permitted uses in certain zones and what are conditional permitted uses.

A permitted use means once a person has a location in the city and has been given a business license, the business can open. A conditional permitted use has to be applied for through the Planning Commission, a public hearing is held and the commission is allowed to put conditions on approval — for example, stipulations on hours of operation.

For a CPU application, a potential business owner has to pay a $300 fee, which covers the fee for the commission members to meet and the publication fees in the paper for the required public hearings.
In addition to the application fee, a $3,000 retainer is required for any of the city’s professional fees, such as engineering, planning or legal fees. If the money is not needed or only some of it is used, the remainder is returned.

The commission’s proposed amendment categorized second-hand stores as conditionally permitted uses in the downtown business district. Previously, they were not categorized.

This means second-hand shops looking to come to the downtown would have to pay $3,300. This is something the aldermen thought was too much for small business owners downtown to handle.

“Is this new ordinance trying to run businesses out of Morris?” asked Alderman Julian Houston.

City Planner Mike Hoffman said the amendment actually added more uses to the city’s business districts. As far as second-hand stores, the commission felt a CPU would be best so the city could monitor what is sold in the second-hand stores.

Currently the city’s code does not categorize second-hand stores for the downtown. The stores are permitted uses in Business-3 districts; the downtown is Business-2. Approval for the stores downtown is given by the building and zoning department because they are “like-type uses” as the code permits.

Making the code more specific makes the rules more concrete, said Building and Zoning Officer Bill Cheshareck.

Hoffman said the council did have the option to make the second-hand stores permitted uses.

Mayor Richard Kopczick said if second-hand stores were changed to permitted uses, owners could still be monitored through the Judiciary and License Committee, which requires all business license applicants to have a background check done by state police.

Kopczick said the types of second-hand stores downtown sell children’s clothes, prom dresses, home décor and furniture. Businesses like this looking to be downtown are not looking to sell and buy jewelry, electronics or other types of things police have to worry about criminals selling as stolen goods.

Stores such as pawn stores would require CPUs in both B-2 and B-3 districts.

Alderman Duane Wolfe motioned for the amendment to be approved with the change that second-hand stores be permitted uses. The council unanimously approved this, with Alderman Randy Larson absent.

There were no changes to the hundreds of other categories added to the zoning amendment by the commission.

All businesses currently opened under the code’s previous regulations are grandfathered in and will not be affected; even if they sell the business, the new owners would keep the zoning.

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