Monday, May 9, 2016

What you may not know: Week of May 9

This week features a nearly-full slate of committee meetings for the Appleton Common Council, with nine meetings scheduled between now and Wednesday at 6 pm. To the highlights:

City Plan Commission, Monday, 4 pm:

It's been almost a year now since the city debated, initially rejected and eventually reconsidered a special use permit for a proposed new cell phone tower near West Wisconsin Avenue last July. This week the City Plan Commission will be asked to consider another such application off Kesting Court, which is near the intersection of Northland Avenue and Meade Street.

As I wrote last summer, recent changes to state law greatly limit the reasons why we could consider rejecting a permit of this nature. While I share the neighborhood's concerns about property values and safety around this facility, the state has largely tied our hands here.

Further north along Meade Street, the Plan Commission will also be asked to consider three related action items regarding a proposed community living arrangement (CLA) just north of the intersection of Meade and County Highway JJ, near Fox Valley Lutheran High School. The action items are a Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map Amendment, a re-zoning from R-1A (single family housing) to R-3 (multi-family housing) and a Special Use Permit.

Community Living Arrangement facilities serve a very clear need in our community, as our population ages and sees an increasing demand for senior care. However, as I've written previously, concentrating these facilities in one area of the city creates a significant risk of strain on resources. As I wrote at that link, the city currently has six active or under construction CLA facilities near the north end of the 13th district. This proposed facility is outside the district, but it's also served by Fire Station #6, which is tasked with responding to ambulance calls.

As part of the 2016 budget process we were made aware of the fact that ongoing growth on the city's north side was likely going to require the addition of a new fire truck and the hiring of additional firefighters to operate it for Fire Station #6. The costs of both a new truck and the ongoing salaries of its firefighters are very significant. Continuing to concentrate CLAs on the northeast side of the city will only increase the need to take on that expense.

Municipal Services Committee, Tuesday, 6:30 pm

No official action will be taken in reaction to this report, but on Tuesday the Municipal Services Committee has an information item scheduled to present the annual crash overview for 2014, and the raw data shows some alarming numbers along Northland Avenue.

The report is available via the attachment at this link. Page 17 of the report shows the total crash counts at various intersections in the city, and the top five includes three intersections with Northland Avenue: Richmond Street, Ballard Road and Meade Street. Northland's intersections with Oneida Street and Mason Street also make the top 25. There are only six signalized intersections involving Northland Avenue in the city, and five of them are among our most dangerous.

Thankfully, work is underway to replace the Northland/Richmond intersection, which saw 27 crashes in this year of data. However, these numbers would seem to imply that there's more that could be done to make this corridor safe.

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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