From the Print

Nonprofit wants new home

This month the owners of a home on Phillips Street asked Village Planning Commission for permission to use the property as the professional offices of the Morgan Family Foundation. The conditional use permit is needed to operate a business in the residential neighborhood behind Mills Lawn and just south of the Catholic Church. The permit is also a condition of the sale of the property, owned by real estate agents Rick and Chris Kristensen, to the Foundation.

Planning Commission held a public hearing on the issue at their meeting Monday, Nov. 10, but tabled the item because the hearing had not been properly advertised. Plan board will consider the request again at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. at the Bryan Center.

The property is located at 318 Phillips Street in residence B zoning district, which allows administrative and professional offices as a conditionally permitted use, according to Village Planning Administrator Tamara Ennist. According to the Kristensens, they originally purchased the single family home for an aging parent, but instead received a conditional use permit in 2007 to use it as their Re/Max real estate office for two years and then as Springs Cottage extended stay rental for several years.

The Morgan Family Foundation needs to move because Lee and Vicki Morgan are selling their family home on Glen Street and wish to use the apartment the foundation occupies next door for their personal use. If allowed to operate on the Phillips Street property, the Foundation’s hours of business would be 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m., in addition to quarterly board and committee meetings. According to Village parking requirements, the foundation’s staff of three would need a minimum of five parking spaces, which, according to the applicants, could be met by the three spaces off the alley to the rear of the property and on-street parking on Phillips Street. In addition to the use of the main 1,600-square-foot house, the foundation hopes to convert the 400-square-foot detached garage into a conference room that could accommodate up to 12 people and could be used by outside groups.

During the public hearing, Phillips Street neighbor Bernadine Parks opposed the permit because she feared that the addition of a business would disturb the affordable, family oriented character of the neighborhood and set a precedent that could invite other businesses in to an area so close to the downtown. Parks also believes that regular staff parking off the alley and in the street would be a serious challenge during snow accumulation, partly because the Village does not plow the alley and because when the plows clear Phillips Street, the snow piles up and blocks all parking along the street. In addition, Parks stated that she is concerned that allowing businesses in to the neighborhood could reduce property values on that street.

In a letter to Planning Commission she states that “The neighborhood on the 300 block of Phillips Street has long been a highly attractive residential neighborhood. … Unfortunately the proximity of these properties to the downtown business district are likewise attractive to investor/developers who believe the ‘solution’ to expansion of the business district could be found in the properties adjacent to Mills Lawn.”

Morgan Family Foundation Executive Director Lori Kuhn stated at the Planning Commission meeting that the Foundation has operated for nearly 10 years in the residential neighborhood on Glen Street and has never received any complaints from neighbors.

“Our intention is not to change the character of the property … and to ensure that our activity doesn’t impact its resale value as a residence,” she said.

Plan board member Matt Reed stated that while the opposing views are valid, the Village’s most recent revision of the Zoning Code actually facilitates the kind of mixed uses the Kristensens are requesting.

“It was Village Council’s intent to allow this kind of activity in this kind of neighborhood — to increase the flexibility for this as a conditionally allowable use.”

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