Monday, May 8, 2017

What you may not know: Week of May 8

The Appleton Common Council has a busy committee week ahead (I have five meetings on my calendar, for those of you that like to count my workload and determine if I've earned my salary). Here are some of the highlights:

City Plan Commission, Monday, 4 pm

Last week the Common Council referred a request for a Special Use Permit along North Clark Street back to the Plan Commission for further discussion, so it will appear on their agenda again this week.

North Clark Street is a very narrow street north of downtown with no parking on both sides and homes very close to the road. In this area (the 500 block) it's also a border between residential properties to the north and west and commercial properties to the east. VL Performance operates an auto repair shop in this neighborhood and has recently applied for permission to expand their business to include automobile sales and display. This has drawn some concern from their neighbors, who have concerns about adequate parking, noise and congestion on their narrow road.

Across the city, borders between zoning types create occasional challenges due to differences in usage, hours of operation, infrastructure needs and the like. The commission and eventually the council will have a challenge here to balance these issues.

Parks & Recreation, Monday, 6:30 pm

Our discussion on dogs in parks resumes tonight as the Parks & Recreation committee will receive and could act upon a report from staff on the possibility of partially or entirely lifting the city's longstanding and outdated ban.

I submitted the original resolution calling for the city to lift its ban three weeks ago, and two weeks ago the committee voted to amend the resolution to lift the ban in six parks along the Fox River: Lutz Park, Vulcan Heritage Park, Peabody Park, Telulah Park, Jones Park and the future Ellen Kort Peace Park. They then referred the item to staff for further study.

While I appreciate the compromise the committee is discussing and will support it if we can't do better, tonight I plan to ask the committee to please return to discussing my original resolution. In the past I've argued against creating two different sets of rules in our parks, as I feel it will create confusion about which parks fall into which category and make an ordinance that's already difficult to enforce even more challenging to follow.

Either way, I'm hoping this committee will take action tonight so the item can go to council next week.

Board of Health, Wednesday, 7 am

A couple of old favorite topics will be back on the agenda this week for the Board of Health, as they will be asked to consider the following:

  • A resolution to expand urban beekeeping to allow bees on commercial rooftops.
  • A resolution to amend the ordinance regarding urban chickens to expand the maximum chicken run size from 24 square feet to 100 square feet.
The former resolution is, at least in part, a response to the fact that our existing ordinance and the challenges it creates have led to zero applications for urban beekeeping in the city since its approval. The latter is an attempt to correct the damage done by an amendment on the council floor during our debate on chickens, and restore our ordinance to something that better reflects best practices. I intend to support both.

You can see all of this week's meeting agendas 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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