[MissoulaGov] Committee Update 4-11-07

Bob Jaffe bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us
Wed Apr 11 22:20:43 MDT 2007


It was nice to get back to my routine of spending Wednesday in committee
meetings. I've actually missed it.

Thanks to Ed and Stacy for writing the updates for me these last few weeks
while I have been out of town and busy with classes for work.

In Public Safety we finished up the Lighting Ordinance. We spent most of
the time talking about the language for enforcement. Essentially,
enforcement will be complaint based. Offenders will receive educational
material regarding proper lighting. If they haven't fixed the problem in 30
days they will be fined. Only new lighting or lighting that gets replaced is
subject to the ordinance. Exceptions to this are a couple of types of
lighting that are common in residential applications and are in violation
even if they pre-exist the ordinance. They are the little two bulb flood
light things they sell in the hardware stores and the unshielded lights you
see mounted to poles in alleys and mounted to out-buildings.

One thing I am concerned with in the ordinance is that it requires lighting
to be brought up to standard when the fixture is replaced. The fixture is
defined as:

LIGHT FIXTURE: The assembly that holds the lamp in a lighting system. It
includes the elements

designed to give light output control, such as a reflector (mirror) or
refractor (lens), the ballast

housing, and the attachment parts.

I interpret that to mean that if anything but the bulb or the ballast needs
to be replaced you have to bring the light up to code. There is an
exception for fixtures that are a part of a collection of similar fixtures.
I'm concerned that the broken part of a fixture triggering replacement may
draw complaints and the council has not verbalized clearly that this is
their intent. I tried to draw it out but I'm not sure I was understood in
the meeting. I'm OK with it but I don't want people to say later that this
isn't what they intended. I believe we will be voting on this on Monday.

In conservation we had a presentation from Scott Stringer, the urban
forester. The big concern is that all the Norway Maples in the U district
were planted nearly 90 years ago. The trees have a life span of 70-90 years.
They are longer lived here because they grow slowly with the reduced water
they get. But they will pretty much all be dead in the next 10 to 20 years.
Imagine the U area with no big trees. You'll only have to imagine it for
another decade or so.

We are going to continue the discussion next week.

In PAZ we covered a zoning request for a 258 unit subdivision west of north
reserve in about 10 minutes and spent an hour on a 3 lot subdivision off
39th. The big one was the zoning request to bring Pleasant View number 5 in
to the city. It is being zoned at 4 per acre. After it comes in to the city
they will request to rezone the eastern boundary near the gravel pit to R12
for some multi-family units. It looks like a good opportunity to build some
nice town homes. I fear they will make motel style barracks instead. I'm
sure we will spend plenty of time on this one when it gets to sub-division.

The little one was the property across 39th from the gas station on the
corner of 39th and Reserve. There is a house in front and they want to put
two in the back. They have just under an acre. The neighbor came in and
complained that the access road was too close to her house. Arrangements
were made to move the road away from her house. The arguments were about
curb, gutter, and sidewalk.

Stacy and I, the traditional sidewalk crusaders, had no problem with leaving
them out on this one. It is a little driveway shared by three houses. The
50 foot original driveway is the part that technically is now a road since
it serves 3 homes. It is absurd to curb, gutter, and sidewalk this 50'
section of driveway. But all of a sudden Jerry was very concerned about
encouraging the occupants of these homes to walk more and argued for
sidewalks. Apparently there was going to be so much traffic on this 50 foot
driveway generated by the 3 houses that people would not be able to safely
walk on the 14 feet of asphalt. I'm not sure if he was serious or just
messing with us.

Dick was concerned that there was not enough pavement for everyone to park
their RV, Boat, and snowmobiles. Once re-drawn to accommodate the parking
lot required by the average ward five household we no longer had to worry
about how the big fire trucks would turn around.

In the end we voted to allow the developer to vary from the curb, gutter,
and sidewalk requirement.

After lunch we had A&F. The bulk of the meeting was spent on the fire
department Capital Improvement Program (CIP) requests. This is for items
over $5,000 and have a useful life of 5 or more years. We were just doing
an initial review of items. They have replacement fire trucks scheduled in
the next few years. The only one of real concern is the ladder truck due for
replacement in 2011. It is expected to cost $1,020,389. Yikes! The
administration is working on a plan for how we will pay for that one.

One of the other items we discussed was the need to purchase land for fire
station 6 out west of town. This branched into a discussion about impact
fees, the inefficiencies of sprawl development, and how our impact fees do
not cover the true cost of development. Stacy reeled us in and we wrapped it
up with a few more fire trucks.

Public works was more interesting than usual. We started by rejecting the
bid to rebuild the communication building up on waterworks hill. It is
currently an old truck buried in the ground. It holds all the essential
equipment to support our emergency communication systems. It is rotting
away. We budgeted about $55,000 to replace the 'building' and associated
tower. The bid for the building alone came in around $67,000. They are going
to restructure the bid in some way that will make it all work out.

We also had a 'debriefing' concerning the Brooks/South/Russell (BSR) audit.
I'm sure I have explained this one in the past. Very briefly, it goes
something like this: The state contracted with the city to administer the
BSR project. The city contracted with WGM group to manage the project for
us. There were errors in the way WGM documented and reported a number of
items. The state and feds threatened not to pay for the project. Through
various negotiations they settled on withholding about $125,000 and the city
has to guarantee the road for five years.

A few folks on council, Jon Hendrickson the most outspoken, have been very
upset at the way the administration has handled the situation. In my
opinion they have done a very poor job of explaining the nature of their
complaint as I'm still not sure I completely get it. It has something to do
with their belief that the administration has not been forthcoming or
transparent about the fact that there was a serious problem brewing.

The Mayor has acknowledged that mistakes were made. He has apologized for
not responding to these guys in a timely manner. He has stated that he has
disagreements with MDOT's assessment of the situation and most importantly
that he is not willing to tar and feather any of the staff over this.

I think the discussion that happened today is pretty much as good as it is
going to get on this issue. I'm hoping everyone was satisfied enough that we
can put it behind us and move on with lessons learned.

Thank you for your interest,

Bob Jaffe

Missoula City Council, Ward 3

<mailto:bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us> bjaffe at ci.missoula.mt.us


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