City Detail

Background Information

City of Morris
County: Stevens
Population: 5418
GreenStep City category: B
Full-time equivalent city staff (approx.): 45
Participating township, county, school: District 2769
University of Minnesota Morris

GreenStep Coordinator

Blaine Hill
City Staff
320-589-3141
City web page relating to sustainability/GreenStep activities:
GreenStep City resolution: Click here to view the file.
GreenStep City status and date: STEP 3 ( )

City Assessment Files and City Performance Metrics

City councils pass a resolution to join the GreenStep program and are recognized at Step 1. Step 2 and Step 3 recognition levels reflect completed city actions, reported and rated below with stars (1 star = good, 2 stars = better, 3 stars = best). The Assessment File below summarizes completed city actions in a short Word file. Step 4 recognition is awarded to cities who report a minimum number of core metrics for the previous calendar year. These metrics aim to show the aggregate, quantitative results of taking multiple GreenStep actions. Step 5 cities show improvement in the Step 4 metrics. See yearly data for Steps 4&5. Additional city data can be found by reviewing information on B3 Benchmarking and Regional Indicators Initiative.

Assessment File

Best Practice Actions Underway and Completed

Completed actions are denoted by stars.

Total completed actions: 24
1 star actions: 5
2 star actions: 11
3 star actions: 8

Buildings and Lighting Buildings and Lighting

Efficient Existing Public Buildings {BP no.1}

2 star - Action 1: Enter building information into the Minnesota B3 Benchmarking database and routinely enter monthly energy, water use data for all city-owned buildings.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Morris has put in information on electricity and natural gas into the MN B3 Benchmarking website for all city owned buildings and outdoor lighting.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141
2 star - Action 2: Make no/low cost indoor lighting and operational changes in city-owned/school buildings to reduce energy costs.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The Morris Public Schools have switched over to all LED lighting in their buildings. They have reduced their energy costs since doing this upgrade.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141

Efficient Outdoor Lighting and Signals {BP no.4}

2 star - Action 1: Require energy efficient, Dark-Sky compliant new or replacement outdoor lighting fixtures on city-owned/private buildings and facilities.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
All city-owned buildings and facilities (including parks) have been replaced with energy efficient, Dark-sky compliant lighting fixtures.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141
3 star - Action 2: Purchase LEDs for all future street lighting and traffic signals.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
All city owned street lights and traffic signals have been switched over to LEDs. We are currently working on getting the OtterTail Power Company owned street lights to LED.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141
3 star - Action 8: Replace the city's existing traffic signals with LEDs.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
All of Morris' existing traffic signals are LEDs.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141

Land Use Land Use

Comprehensive, Climate and Energy Plans {BP no.6}

1 star - Action 1: Adopt a comprehensive plan or (for Category B & C cities) adopt a land use plan that was adopted by the county or a regional entity.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Morris's Comprehensive Plan was developed by the city and the citizens of Morris. The plan outlines land use, transportation, population and housing, economic development, environmental analysis, central business district, arts and culture, and community facilities, services, and utilities.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141
1 star - Action 2: Demonstrate that regulatory ordinances comply with the comprehensive plan including but not limited to having the zoning ordinance explicitly reference the comprehensive plan as the foundational document for decision making.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Morris' Zoning Map
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141
3 star - Action 5:

Adopt climate mitigation and/or energy independence goals and objectives in the comprehensive plan or in a separate policy document, and include transportation recommendations such as becoming an EV-ready city.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
In October 2018, the Morris Model team held a planning retreat at Camp Ripley with members of the Morris community from the City, the County, DENCO II, Superior Industries, Riverview Dairy LLC, the USDA Soils Lab, West Central Research and Outreach, UMM, the MAS School Board, and Ottertail Power Company. Over the course of the 2 day retreat, these community members were educated about the current state of energy usage and sustainability efforts in Morris, and they were able to give some input about what sustainability goals they'd like to see met in the near future.
In January 2019, a Strategic Plan was released with aggressive sustainability goals. The plan contains our overarching "Big 3" goals:
to produce 80% of the energy used IN our community BY our community, reducing our energy consumption by at least 30% by 2030, and ending the land-filling of waste in our community by 2025. It also contains goals for each of our community partners including the City, the County, the schools and University, and each of the various industrial businesses. The goals for partner organizations are based on 4 goal areas that were determined prior to the retreat, including energy, transportation, waste reduction and recycling, and education. In addition to goals, our strategic plan also set forth an updated list of 100 projects to work toward the goals, which has been dubbed "The Morris Model 100".
Our strategic plan has been adopted and ratified by Morris's City Council and UMM, and it is being presented to the MAS School Board, Stevens County, and the various industrial entities of the Morris community for ratification by or before June 1, 2019.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
UMN-Morris, WCROC, USDA Soils Lab, Stevens County, Morris Area Schools, DENCO II, Riverview Dairy LLC, Superior Industries, Ottertail Power Company
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141

Resilient City Growth {BP no.7}

3 star - Action 4: Provide incentives for infill projects, or for life-cycle housing at or near job or retail centers, or for achieving an average net residential density of seven units per acre.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Morris has a long history of approving TIF districts for projects that will improve housing and business development in Morris. A TIF district was established to help in the construction of 32 units (in the form of 4 8-plexes) in Morris. Additionally, another TIF district was approved on 2/12/19 for the construction of 10 memory-care units at Legacy living in Morris.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Multiple TIF districts approved and established for high density housing in Morris, MN:
-On 10/9/2018 for the construction of 32 housing units (four 8-plexes on one property).
-On 2/12/2019 for the construction of 10 units of memory care.
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141

Mixed Uses {BP no.8}

1 star - Action 2: Locate or lease a school, city building or other government facility that has at least two of these attributes:
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
ONE STAR-
Morris's City Hall:
A) Is adjacent to Willie's Supervalu, Prairie Medical, Ottertail Power Company Offices, the Community Center, and the Post Office. All of these locations employ multiple people from the city of Morris. All transit drivers also work out of City Hall
B) Has sidewalks on both of the adjacent roads to encourage access by biking and walking.
C) Is the hub where transit is run from, and is thus easily accessible by our on-demand and regular stop transit system.
THREE STARS
-Morris Transit, which was established in 1975 with MNDOT's help, writes a grant yearly to MNDOT, who in turn subsidize all transit activities by 80%. In 2019, Morris Transit was granted 90% of their funds by this grant.
-The University of Minnesota-Morris is visited by Morris Transit regularly, 10 times per weekday on the hour. These regular stops are half price ($1.25 per trip as opposed to $2.50). Beginning in 2013, the University has written a grant to offer discounted passes to university students yearly.
-Morris Area Public Schools pay for the transit system to pick up all students with disabilities free of charge to those students and their teachers/paraprofessionals, who ride the buses to pick up those students.
-Stevens Community Medical Center offers free transit to and from their hospital. Prairie Medical and West Wind Village offer free transit from the hospital to all patients.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Morris Transit offered 64,337 rides in 2018 and 64,950 in 2017.
In December 2018, there were 5,013 passengers. Of these, 1494 were disabled passengers, 629 were elderly, 680 were children, 400 were youth, and 1810 were adults. All of these rides were at least 80% subsidized, with many being paid for outright by different institutions within Morris.
Descriptive File:
Morris Area Public Schools, University of Minnesota-Morris, Stevens Community Medical Center, Prairie Medical, West Wind Village, MNDOT
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141

Transportation Transportation

Mobility Options {BP no.12}

2 star - Action 6:

Add/expand transit service, or promote car/bike sharing.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The transit service was made on July 23, 1974 and the City of Morris took over the responsibility on March 10, 1975. The city accepted the first transit grant to help pay for the transit system on May 13, 1975.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141

Environmental Management Environmental Management

Sustainable Purchasing {BP no.15}

2 star - Action 1: Adopt a sustainable purchasing policy or administrative guidelines/practices directing that the city purchase at least:
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
On April 23, 2019, Morris's city council approved and adopted a sustainable purchasing policy modeled after Burnsville's policy which encourages the purchase of sustainable, post-consumer recycled paper and energy-star appliances for all city buildings.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141
2 star - Action 2: Purchase energy used by city government - via the municipal utility, green tags, community solar garden, 3rd party - with a higher renewable percentage than required by Minnesota law.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Morris's electrical utility is Otter Tail Power Company, and they generate 20% of their energy through renewable sources.
Morris's UMN campus produces 60% of its energy with 2, 2 MW wind turbines, and Morris Area Schools are installing 8 kW of Solar in the Spring of 2019.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
Morris Area Public Schools, University of Minnesota-Morris
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141

Urban Forests and Soils {BP no.16}

1 star - Action 1: Certify as a Tree City USA.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Morris has been a certified Tree City USA since 2003. Every year we get recognition for being a Tree City for 13 years now.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141

Parks and Trails {BP no.18}

1 star - Action 1: Make improvements within your city's system of parks, offroad trails and open spaces.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The Pomme de Terre Park was upgraded with a rain garden and better ground to pavement ratio for better infiltration. This helps with lowering the flooding in the park (with greater storms seen from climate change, flooding will be a problem in certain areas) and restoring the area with more native prairie plants.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141
2 star - Action 3: Achieve minimum levels of city green space and maximize the percent within a ten-minute walk of community members.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The city of Morris contains 8 parks, the largest of which is the Pomme de Terre Park. Pomme de Terre Park is the largest city park, and it was established in 1973. The park deed says that it has 363.51 acres, but ParkServe, which is connected to the ParkScore system, reports that PDT Park is 257.6 acres.
ParkServe reports Morris as having 288 total acres of park.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Morris is over 7.5 times the standard for 1-star completion, with between 53 and 72 acres of park per 1000 people. According to ParkServe, 81% of Morris citizens are within a 10 minute walk of one of our parks, compared to the national average of 51%.
Descriptive File: view file
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141

Local Air Quality {BP no.23}

3 star - Action 5: Install, assist with and promote one or more public fueling stations for plug-in hybrid and full electric vehicles, flex-fuel ethanol vehicles, CNG vehicles.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
In April 2018, the City of Morris (and Ottertail Power Company) helped facilitate the installation of a public, free EV charging system at Willie's Supervalu in Morris.
UMM has multiple free, networked EV charging stations, and West Central Research and Outreach Center has both a level 3 DC fast charger and a level 2 charger, both of which are connected to on-site solar PV.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
UMN-Morris, WCROC, Ottertail Power Company, Willie's Supervalu
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141

Resilient Economic & Community Development Resilient Economic and Community Development

Benchmarks and Community Engagement {BP no.24}

3 star - Action 1: Use a city commission, or committee to lead, coordinate, and report to and engage community members on implementation of sustainability best practices.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The Morris Model Team coordinates and reports the implementation of GreenStep best practices to the community members.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141
3 star - Action 5: Conduct or support a community education, visioning and planning initiative using a sustainability framework such as:
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Through the Morris Model efforts, we use the initiative of resiliency to frame our work on community education and planning for a better future.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141

Green Business Development {BP no.25}

2 star - Action 2:

Create or participate in a marketing/outreach program to connect businesses with assistance providers, including utilities, who provide personalized energy, waste or sustainability audits and assistance.

Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Morris was selected by Otter Tail Power Company to receive assistance via an event called the Business Blitz. In conjunction, several members of the MN CERTs team and Morris's Minnesota GreenCorps member performed an outreach campaign on February 21, 2019. 176 Businesses in Morris were targeted for outreach and offered free energy audits from Franklin Energy. During the weeks of March 4 and March 18, Franklin Energy conducted energy audits on 58 businesses and offered free direct installs of vending and cooler misers, T-LED lighting, and insulation on electric water heaters. In addition, the businesses that participated received reports with actions they could take to improve their energy efficiency.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
MN CERTs, Otter Tail Power Company, Franklin Energy
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141
2 star - Action 3: Promote sustainable tourism in your city, and green tourism resources to tourism and hospitality businesses in/around the city.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
Morris's Tourism website promotes the various green attractions in the city of Morris, including the Morris Wetland Management District, the US Department of Agriculture Research Center, the University of Minnesota-Morris Campus, Pomme De Terre Park, and the Horticulture Display Garden.

Morris's Tourism Board is currently soliciting proposals for agricultural and green tourism advertising campaigns.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
Morris Tourism Board
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141

Local Food {BP no.27}

2 star - Action 3: Create, assist with and promote local food production/distribution within the city:
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The City of Morris Library partners with the farmer's market and Morris Healthy Eating to have the market at the library, conveniently in the middle of town so everyone has access to the farmer's market.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141

Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience {BP no.29}

3 star - Action 1: Prepare to maintain public health and safety during extreme weather and climate-change-related events, while also taking a preventive approach to reduce risk for community members.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
On April 9th, Morris adopted the newly updated Stevens County Emergency Operation Plan (which it does each time the plan is updated). The plan names Dona Greiner and Reggie Welle as being in charge of both emergency preparedness and emergency response. The plan includes information and measures to ensure the safety of the Morris community during natural disasters such as tornados, wind events, and floods and also industrial disasters such as gas leaks, train derailments, and explosions resulting from such events.
Morris is coordinating with the University of Minnesota- Morris, the Center for Small Towns, and Morris Transit to ensure that emergency communications can be available in both English and Spanish. Morris Transit is an integral part of some of the various emergency planning and makes some instructions available in Chinese as well.
The Emergency Operation Plan lists several locations as emergency shelters, including our various churches, Morris Area Schools, and UMN-Morris. The National Guard Armory has also been requested as an emergency shelter, and all of the locations are being evaluated by the Red Cross to make sure they meet all standards for emergency shelters.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
University of Minnesota-Morris, Center for Small Towns, Morris Transit, American Red Cross
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141
2 star - Action 2: Integrate climate resilience into city or tribal planning, policy, operations, and budgeting processes.
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Implementation details:
The Morris Model team developed a Community Resilience Report that specifies 9 main goals to work on in the city, county, and schools.
Outcome measures/metrics:
Descriptive File:
Stevens County, Morris Public School, Horizon Public Health, and the University of Minnesota, Morris
For more information contact:
Blaine Hill (City staff) | bhill@ci.morris.mn.us | 320-589-3141