City Plan Commission, Monday, 4 pm
One of the challenges Appleton (along with a great many similar cities) faces as our population grows older is a significant shortfall in available capacity in our senior living facilities. In my nearly three years serving the city we've seen a fair amount of work done to help address that shortfall here in the 13th district.
When I took office in April of 2013 we had three senior living facilities in the district, all located at the north end of Cherryvale Avenue. A fourth has since been constructed near the corner of Ballard Road and Milestone Drive, and a fifth is in process near the corner of French Road and County Highway JJ.
On Monday the City Plan Commission will be asked to approve a Special Use Permit to allow a sixth such facility to be constructed near the aforementioned new facility at Ballard and Milestone. This facility would add an additional 80 beds of capacity for senior living to the district, bringing us up to 272 within the district. Across the city the total licensed Community Living Arrangement (CLA) capacity would go up to 516, which is less than 1% of Appleton's total population.The Appleton Redevelopment Authority also recently authorized city staff to negotiate with a developer on a possible CLA development on the former Foremost site along the Fox River.
I don't intend to oppose this development as it's serving a very clear community need. It's worth noting, however, that concentrating senior living facilities in one area of the city does create some infrastructural needs. The north end of the 13th district, which now will host more than half of the city's CLA beds, is served by the city's smallest fire station. That station is tasked with responding to all ambulance calls, and may need to add an additional truck and/or staffing in upcoming years to meet the resulting increased demand.
Finance, Tuesday, 4:30 pm
With the 2016 budget process complete the Finance Committee is back on its usual schedule and will be asked to consider a pair of longstanding pending items this week.
First, we will again be asked to consider approval of a draft ordinance allowing absent alderpersons to participate in meetings electronically. I know I've written about this before (most recently in September, I guess), and I support the concept of this ordinance but struggle with some of the challenges regarding how it will work in practice. Some of the ongoing challenges include:
- Technical issues that make it unclear how much of a meeting an electronic participant will actually be able to see or hear, and whether or not their participation will be able to be effectively recorded along with video of our meetings. I'm hopeful we'll be able to test that this week.
- Issues involving who can and cannot participate this way. The current ordinance tasks the council president with determining whether or not an absent alderperson has "good cause" for missing a meeting and should be allowed to participate. That's open to a wide variety of interpretation and could cause some real issues. I'd prefer to allow alderpersons a set number of annual absences (two is my preferred number), and leave it up to the individuals to determine how they use them.
Second, we'll also resume discussion on the 2015 Special Assessment policy, which still includes some challenging language regarding streets undergoing "rural to urban conversion." Under current policy the city assesses property owners for the expansion and improvement of their "rural" road when it is annexed into the city or when city expansion requires it to become urbanized. This creates a very specific issue on places like French Road, which was recently repaved (and assessed) and will likely face a second wave of construction when the road is urbanized in future years. Under the current policy property owners with frontage on that street would be assessed both times.
At council several weeks ago I attempted to amend the policy to allow for that second assessment but to give property owners a credit in the amount of the first assessment. This ensures they're still participating in the improvement of their street but eliminates the "double hit" they'd otherwise be feeling after already paying for their street to be resurfaced recently. That amendment passed but was referred back to committee for further discussion.
I remain hopeful that we'll find a way to handle these relatively isolated situations without creating undue hardship on the property owners involved.
Municipal Services, Tuesday, 6:30 pm
Later on Tuesday the Municipal Services Committee will meet to discuss, among other things, another item of some significance to many District 13 residents: The design of the proposed reconstruction of County Highway JJ between Lightning Drive and Ballard Road.
The proposed redesign aims to address some safety issues related to the north entrance/exit of the North High School parking lot, where the combination of inexperienced drivers attempting to turn left with pressure from traffic backing up behind them and the relatively high rate of speed for traffic on Highway JJ has created some significant accidents and near-misses. That issue existed before but has been exacerbated a bit by recent development on the north side of JJ which adds some additional traffic and some pedestrian concerns to the mix.
The Department of Public Works has proposed a design including the following:
- Construct a raised concrete median east of Ballard Road, from the existing median to 550’ east of Lightning Drive and gapped at Lightning Drive intersection (width varies from 3.3’ to 18’, 5.5’ at most locations).
- Provide an enhanced pedestrian crosswalk of Edgewood Drive at the west side of the Appleton North High School (ANHS) entrance.
- Construct a single-lane roundabout with east, west, north, and south approaches at the Lightning Drive intersection, with right-of-way sufficient for future roundabout expansion to two lanes, if needed. Construct one 12-foot eastbound and one 12-foot westbound through lane (plus 2.5-foot curb and gutter)
- Construct one 4-foot eastbound and one 4-foot westbound bike lane (plus 2.5-foot curb and gutter)
- Construct one 5-foot concrete sidewalk along north right-of-way line and one 10-foot asphalt multi-use trail along south right-of-way line.
- Construct a dedicated eastbound right-turn lane at the ANHS entrance.
- Construct a dedicated westbound left-turn lane at Ballard Road.
- Construct a second through lane for westbound traffic at the approach to Ballard Road.
- Construct a second through lane for eastbound traffic from Ballard Road to the ANHS right turn lane.
- Construct approximately 600’ of Lightning Drive north of Edgewood Drive with one northbound through lane, one southbound through lane, and a two-way-left-turn lane.
- Construct a stormwater pond meeting state and local stormwater management requirements northeast of the Edgewood/Lightning intersection.
The primary objection to this proposal has come from business owners and developers on the north side of the Highway, who would see access to their property restricted by the new design. They've proposed a secondary option which would meet many of the stated goals above but include an opportunity to turn left into their developments. This option carries significant additional construction costs and would require the city to purchase additional property for street right-of-way.
Safety & Licensing, Wednesday, 6 pm
Finally, this week the Safety & Licensing Committee agenda includes my resolution calling for the city to consider changes to its ordinances regarding secondhand dealers and holding periods. This item was held when the committee met in special session last week. In the interest of shortening an update that's already well over 1300 words, I'll refer any interested parties to my comments on the matter from my previous update.
Keeping you informed on issues that may impact you around the city is one of my primary goals as an alderman. Good governance happens in the open, and I remain committed to raising awareness on the issues coming before us.