Waukon City Council votes to not allow chickens in town

by Joe Moses

The Waukon City Council met in regular session Monday, October 15 to discuss a full agenda of items including the Urban Chicken Ordinance, the 2019 Department of Transportation (DOT) Street Project and an update on the Green Valley Bridge project. Mayor Pat Stone called the meeting to order with approval of the current agenda with the addition of three items.

There was no Public Comment and the council moved into Departmental Reports. Street Superintendent Keith Burrett discussed a letter from St. Patrick’s Catholic Church concerning the curb on the east side of the church which is in need of repair. Burrett recommended that this future project would best be accomplished in the summer, outside of the school year. Burrett indicated that a storm sewer collapse in the northeast part of town will involve some exploratory digging this week to determine necessary repairs.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Jim Cooper discussed sewer repairs and quotes for replacement equipment.

Park and Rec Wellness Director Jeremy Strub indicated that fall activities will be wrapping up for the season soon and that the winterization of the City Park will be taking place in the coming weeks. Strub provided an update on the tennis court fundraising, which he estimated as being at 80-85% of its goal with construction likely to begin in the spring.

City Manager Dean Hilgerson discussed recent and upcoming meetings including Scenic Byways, the Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) annual meeting, a meeting regarding solar energy and a meeting with Managing Director Travis Squires of Piper Jaffray that will be taking place regarding interest payments for the new wastewater treatment facility.

The council moved into Regular Business with the approval of several financial matters. The Resolution transferring $19,000 from the General Fund (property taxes) to the Library Fund for library expenses was approved. The Resolution transferring $14,540.26 from the General Fund (proceeds from storm water utility fees) to the Storm Sewer Improvement Fund for project improvements was approved. The Resolution transferring $40,000 from the Sports Field Tax Increment Sub Fund to the Southeast Tax Increment Fund for advancement repayments and $11,000 from the Police Facility C-Mart Property Tax Increment Sub Fund to the Southeast Tax Increment Fund for advancement repayment were also approved. A partial payment for work completed on First Avenue NW was approved.

James Deeney of 1153 Prairie Avenue discussed his request for de-annexation of the area where his property is located. Hilgerson indicated that the next step in the process would be a letter to the Planning and Zoning Commission, with the commission’s recommendation to be presented to the council. The matter was tabled allowing follow-up from the Planning and Zoning Commission and response from property owners.

The council approved a renter’s deposit from a specific account to be used for a delinquent utility bill. The council further discussed utility accounts, City code and policies, with City Attorney Jim Garrett recommending that a deposit and amount be added by ordinance. The council discussed the advantages of radio-read water meters and the installation of curb-stop water shut-offs for residences that currently do not have one. Penalties for non-payment after 90 days and the cost of a curb stop installation potentially being added to property taxes in cases of non-payment were also discussed.

Hilgerson advised that Travis Squires from Piper Jaffray has agreed to be part of a budget workshop and recommended the date and time of January 14 at 6 p.m. for this meeting, with the council in agreement. Squires will be involved with reviewing current debt, financing options, capital expenditure planning and Waste Water Treatment Plant funding.

The council moved into discussion of the 2019 Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) street and sidewalk project. A variety of aspects of this project were discussed including new circuitry, lights and the style of arms to mount luminaries. The council approved to move forward with boring underneath West Street and First Street NW to allow new circuitry for street lights and approved the replacement of sidewalk on East Main Street.

Brooke Troendle with the Walk-On Waukon group provided an update on grant funding and associated project deadlines. Troendle and the council discussed the engineering necessary for sidewalk on Fourth Street SE and Seventh Avenue SE. The council approved to have Fehr-Graham Engineering prepare a proposal for this project.

Senior Project Manager Lyle TeKippe with Fehr-Graham Engineering provided an update on the Green Valley Bridge project advising that a modified design is being worked on for the installation of the guardrails. TeKippe explained that hardware for the guardrails was not placed within the pre-cast sections as illustrated in the designs and shop drawings and as a result a modified design is being developed. TeKippe indicated that Fehr-Graham is coordinating with Allamakee County officials on this matter.

Stone and the council discussed rules and definitions associated with special assessments, including the difference between a street project and a street maintenance project. The use of assessments versus an increase in property taxes to fund street projects and street maintenance projects were discussed.

The names of three individuals were discussed as possible appointments to the Planning and Zoning Commission, which currently has three vacancies. The council discussed the possibility of lowering the five-year term for this board.

The council discussed the positive and negative aspects of the Urban Chicken Ordinance, which would allow a limited number of chickens within a property and require a permit to do so. The council voted against the ordinance by approving to not allow chickens within Waukon by a 3-2 vote.

Under Other Matters, council member Ben Rausch provided an update on broadband access and potential providers. Stone recommended adding the new police station as an agenda item at a future meeting of the council. Hilgerson advised that requests for proposal (RFP) will be sent out regarding the new police station allowing further discussion and review during budgeting later in the year.

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