Monday, April 18, 2016

What you may not know: Week of April 18

A new council year begins this week as we swear in our one new council member, re-assign our standing committees and review our council rules before settling in for our regularly scheduled council meeting on Wednesday night.

Organizational Meeting, Wednesday, 6 pm

As I mentioned above, council has some housekeeping work to do this week to establish the framework for our new council year. At least once annually, as council turns over following the spring elections, we come together to review and consider amendments to our council rules. This year I have one proposed change related to holding meetings during winter storm events.

As I look out my office window this morning it's hard to believe that it was snowing about a week ago. Nonetheless, this winter's handful of heavy snow events brought an issue to the forefront regarding the way we schedule and hold meetings during the winter months. All of our committee and council meetings meet at the call of the chair, meaning it's up to our chairpersons to decide whether or not to cancel a meeting in the event of inclement weather or other factors. This creates some possibility for inconsistency: A few weeks ago during a snow emergency, for example, we had two meetings cancelled and one go on as scheduled.

There are a pair of challenges with holding meetings during snow events or times of extreme cold. The first, of course, is safety. One of the first things we hear during times of extreme weather is to avoid unnecessary travel. Holding public meetings during times where we're openly advising people to stay indoors and/or off the roads sends a challenging mixed message. As I said in the resolution, attending a meeting of the Appleton Common Council should not require citizens to expose themselves to potentially dangerous conditions. Additionally, snow events sometimes cause significant parking restrictions downtown, making it increasingly difficult for our constituents to reach our meetings.

This rule change could create some new challenges, of course: Notices for our public meetings announce a specific date and time, and moving those dates or times around does create confusion. Additionally, council occasionally faces items that have a critical timing element and being forced to cancel a meeting could create a time crunch there. However, I think the safety element has to take priority here.

Common Council, Wednesday, 7 pm (or shortly after the conclusion of the organizational meeting)

Once the organizational meeting concludes we'll move on to our regularly-scheduled council meeting. This week's highlights are all items we discussed in last week's post, so here's a brief update:

  • The City Plan Commission voted unanimously last Monday to reaffirm their recommendation for a rezoning on Schaefer Circle that would allow for additional multifamily housing to be developed near the existing facilities. They had previously voted 5-1 to recommend approval, so this is actually a stronger statement than they made before.
  • Last week the Municipal Services Committee voted 4-0 to approve a contract with TAPCO to purchase and install a Parking Access and Revenue Control System for city parking ramps to help with our transition to a "pay on exit" model and the ability to accept credit cards and parking validations.
  • Last week on Tuesday and Wednesday the Finance and Community and Economic Development committees, respectively, voted to recommend approval of staff's request to purchase 7+ acres of land just outside our borders in the Town of Grand Chute, and annex them into the city with the intention of using them someday as business/industrial property. The only major development from that conversation was the committee learning that the property owner immediately to the west of this property, who owns an additional ~20 acres, is also interested in selling.
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.

No comments:

Post a Comment