Monday, April 21, 2014

What you may not know: Week of April 21

The second year of my two-year term (hopefully my first of many) on Appleton's city council officially began last week, when we held our organizational meeting, swore in two new members and the new council met for the first time. With a new year comes new committee assignments, and this year I'll be serving on:

  • The Finance Committee
  • The Safety and Licensing Committee
  • The Transit Commission (my second year here)
In addition, I was fortunate to be elected by my peers to represent the council on the City Plan Commission. I'm sad to be leaving the Utilities and Parks & Rec committees after just one year, but I'm excited for these new opportunities and will likely stay involved with my former assignments.

Now that our new committees have been assigned, we have a full week of meetings ahead of us. Here are some of the highlights:

City Plan Commission, Monday, 4 pm

My first meeting as a member of this commission will be a big one, as we're expected to make a decision on a zoning issue within the 13th district.

All three action items on the agenda (an amendment to the city's Comprehensive Land Use Map, a zoning change and a special use permit) pertain to one property on Ballard Road, just north of the intersection with Milestone Drive. The city has received a proposal to allow a "Community Living Arrangement" serving 50 persons on the site.

Via a document on the City of Milwaukee's site, here's a quick summary of what kind of state-permitted facilities are considered Community Living Arrangements:

  • Residential Care Center – a facility where 4 or more children reside and are provided with care and maintenance for no more than 75 days in any consecutive 12 month period by persons other than a relative or guardian 
  • Group Home or Group Foster Home – a facility where 5 to 8 foster children reside and are provided with care and maintenance by persons other than a relative or guardian 
  • Community Based Residential Facility - a facility where 5 or more adults not related to the operator reside and are provided with care, treatment or services above the level of room and board but less than nursing care.
In addition to the plan amendment, zoning change and special use permit, a facility built on this space (or anywhere else in the 13th district) will require an exception to a city rule stating that "The total capacity of all CLA’s within any aldermanic district may not exceed 1% of the total population of that aldermanic district.” 

As of the 2010 census, the population of District 13 was 4,796 people. 1% of that population is roughly 48 persons, and the district already exceeds that capacity in CLAs with three Grand Horizons facilities on Cherryvale Avenue that could hold a combined 66 residents. If this facility is approved, it will put the district at more than 200% of the proposed limit.

I'm eager to hear more about this proposal on Monday night before making a final decision on it.

Municipal Services, Tuesday, 5:30 pm

A day later, an information item on the Municipal Services Committee agenda deals with an intersection just up the street. For several months now city staff have been studying traffic patterns at the intersection of Ballard Road and Ashbury Drive (the southwest corner of North High School) following an accident last year where a pedestrian was struck while trying to cross the street.

On Tuesday night our traffic engineers will present their findings and a recommendation to add a stop light at the intersection. The possibility has been looked into before, but this is the first time where we've found a signal to be warranted. In addition, our study found that conditions will continue to worsen without a signal in coming years.

However, we're still pretty early in this process. Since the 2014 budget is already completed, funding for a potential change to the intersection is likely to appear in the 2015 budget.

Parks and Recreation, Wednesday, 6 pm

Back in March I wrote about an ongoing situation at the Gardens of the Fox Cities, where the independent group that had been operating the facility elected to cease operations earlier this year. Control and maintenance of the Gardens returned to the city at that point, and we've been working for a while to determine what happens next.

On Wednesday night staff is recommending the Parks and Recreation Committee recommend approval of a rental policy for the facility for this year. Renting out the facility for meetings, parties and events will hopefully allow us to recoup some of the money we're investing in keeping the grounds maintained. It's a policy we'll likely revisit in a year, but it's a step forward in the continued operation of this popular attraction.

You can see agendas for all of this week's meetings and the full schedule at the city's Legistar page.

Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as an alderman. Making the council's activity as accessible as possible to as many people as are interested is part of my goal to make it easier for more people to get involved with issues that matter to them.

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