Monday, January 8, 2018

What you may not know: Week of January 8

The Appleton Common Council returns from our holiday break this week with an abbreviated schedule of committee meetings, but several items of interest at one of them:

Finance Committee, Monday, 5:30 pm

If you've been following the news then you're likely familiar with the fact that the Fox Cities Exhibition Center is scheduled to host its grand opening this week but some work remains between the participating communities to determine how the project will be funded. Our understanding all along was that financing would take place via local banks, which would allow us to both keep the money being spent in the community and avoid costs associated with selling revenue bonds. This idea has not been well received by some of the other communities participating in the project.

As such, tonight the Finance Committee will hear from representatives of Robert W. Baird and Company on potential funding options. Hopefully this issue can be resolved soon so a final funding source can be in place. The project is currently being funded by a short-term loan from the city to the Appleton Redevelopment Authority.

Meanwhile, another item of local interest to the 13th district is on the same agenda: Tonight the Finance Committee will be asked to recommend approval of a development agreement for a proposed 129-lot single family subdivision east of French Road and north of County Highway JJ. The new neighborhood would be known as "North Edgewood Estates" and would be north of the current apartment development off of Paris Way. It's expected to be constructed in phases between now and 2028.

Continued development is, largely speaking, good news for the city and its taxpayers as it continues to expand the city's tax base. Every time new development occurs on the north side, however, I feel compelled to mention that this continues to place added strain on limited resources. Students from this development will likely attend Huntley Elementary, already the city's largest elementary school. Additionally, this neighborhood will be served by Fire Station #6, the only station in the city staffed with just one fire truck. Addressing the additional needs created by continued development in this area will be necessary at some point and likely expensive.

Assuming council approves this proposed agreement many more steps will need to take place before construction gets underway: The property will need to be annexed into the city (it's currently in the Town of Grand Chute), rezoned and platted before any work can begin.

Safety & Licensing, Wednesday, 5:30 pm

The Safety & Licensing Committee has been discussing the possibility of allowing alcohol on commercial quadricycles for a few months now, but I'm hopeful we'll be able to reach a recommendation this Wednesday to pass along to the full council.

The city banned alcohol on the cycles, often referred to as "pedal pubs," early in my tenure on council but has opted to reexamine that decision in light of the success and non-offensive nature of such vehicles both here in the city and beyond. The challenge in the discussion to this point has been figuring out how the city would regulate these vehicles.

Last week I met with the City Attorney's office in an effort to outline an ordinance structure that would allow the cycles to operate but keep them off of some of Appleton's busiest streets (most notably College Avenue and Richmond Street). State statute is already very specific on what is allowed on the vehicles and has very strict penalties, including a permanent ban from operating a commercial cycle, for any who fail to follow. I suspect the framework we've created will allow this resolution to go forward but will also require operators of these cycles to proceed very carefully.

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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