Tuesday, March 8, 2016

What you may not know: Week of March 8

With apologies for coming in a day late (it's rapidly becoming a busy time of year for me), here's a quick look at this week's committee highlights:

Municipal Services, Tuesday, 6:30 pm

Despite the fact that this blog has been on hiatus for a couple of weeks, I've already written multiple times about the work being done to attempt to redesign the portion of County Highway JJ between Ballard and Lightning, as it passes by North High School and several commercial properties. That item will come before the Municipal Services Committee again this week, with a new recommendation.

Previous staff recommendations for this project had included a raised median the full length of the project, effectively barring all left turns onto or off of JJ into both the high school and neighboring businesses. Staff's new redesign still bars left turns out of the high school (and prevents traffic from going straight across from the high school to Kwik Trip), but includes left turn-ins for both the Citgo and Kwik Trip properties, along with the undeveloped commercial property east of Kwik Trip. The project does still include greatly improved pedestrian infrastructure at the high school exit.

This recommendation comes with the understanding that the left turn lanes into Kwik Trip and Citgo will likely need to be closed at some point in the future as traffic along JJ grows and the lanes' functionality decreases. Under this recommendation, the county would be able to close those lanes at their discretion at a future date.

While I applaud everyone who came to the table to work on this compromise and acknowledge that it's certainly safer than the current layout, I'm still a bit uneasy about it. The new recommendation features instances that are less safe for both vehicles and pedestrians. While I recognize the convenience and business concerns that led us to this decision, I'm having a hard time being willing to sacrifice safety, especially next to a school.

Mayoral candidate forum, Tuesday, 7 pm

While the discussion about Highway JJ continues at Municipal Services, a broader discussion about Appleton and its future will be happening at Einstein Middle School as the Post Crescent hosts a forum for Mayor Tim Hanna and mayoral candidate Josh Dukelow. You can see more details on that event here.

Board of Health, Wednesday, 7 am

From there, we'll be right back to City Hall first thing on Wednesday morning for another discussion on bees.

When council passed a resolution opening the door for permits for residential beekeeping last year, we outlined a process for permit approval that requires the notification of all property owners within a certain distance of proposed hives and the opportunity to object. If an objection is received, then there is an opportunity to conduct an appeal hearing on whether the permit should be approved. I wrote a fair amount about this process when it came up last summer.

On Wednesday the Board of Health will hear the first such appeal. I'm curious to see how this process will work, as it will likely set the precedent for future potential hearings. Additionally, this process might highlight any tweaks that need to be made to the ordinance going forward.

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. Good governance happens in the open, and I remain committed to raising awareness on the issues coming before us.

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