Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What you may not know: Week of August 17

The Appleton Common Council will meet in its regularly-scheduled session on Wednesday, August 19, but before we get started we'll have a special meeting to discuss one of our longstanding items:

Expo center update

The Common Council will meet at 6 pm on Wednesday and is expected to go into closed session to discuss the latest developments in the effort to build an expo center in downtown Appleton. I don't know the specifics of what will be discussed on Wednesday, but I can tell you that two major hurdles remain if the city is going to purchase the prospective site yet this year.

The exhibition center likely cannot happen without agreement from many of our neighboring municipalities to raise their room taxes to help pay for it, so an intergovernmental agreement will be needed before anything can move forward. It's my understanding that work on this side of the project is ongoing.

Meanwhile, another critical piece of the puzzle is the proposed management agreement between the city and the new owners of the Radisson Paper Valley. I've seen public statements saying both sides expect this to be done soon.

Both of those agreements will need to come before the common council for approval, and I look forward to the opportunity to review them. It's my understanding that council will take no official action on the expo center at this meeting.

Once we've wrapped up that discussion in closed session, council will reconvene in open session to take up our other scheduled items. Here are the updates on items I discussed last week:

Alcohol in parks

Last Monday the Safety & Licensing and Parks & Recreation committees held a joint meeting to discuss proposed changes to our park ordinances regarding alcohol. After a fair amount of discussion there seems to be a feeling that something needs to be done but some of us appear to remain concerned about how the issues we're experiencing can be addressed without impacting others whose ability to have alcohol in parks is not causing a problem. In the end a resolution requiring a permit to bring alcohol into the parks was referred to staff for further development. No action will be taken on this item on Wednesday.

Licensing and landlords

Last week the Finance Committee voted 4-0 to recommend approval of a resolution calling for the city to create a new, provisional license to allow some temporary flexibility to business tenants caught in the middle of disputes between the city and their landlords over unpaid property taxes.

This issue is somewhat complicated and may lead to a review of the entirety of the ordinance, but I'm glad to see the committee understood the need to do something to help business owners who have done nothing wrong. I'm hopeful council will do the same this week.

Urban beekeeping

Finally, last week the Board of Health voted 3-1 to approve a resolution calling for the city to expand the urban beekeeping permit process to residential property. We've been discussing bees for some time now, and I wrote this piece on the existing regulations for beekeeping on public institutional and urban farm properties back in June.  If this item passes council on Wednesday night, the next step would likely be for staff to prepare a proposed ordinance for council to review on a future date.

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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