Impact fees, records requests & housing all a part of City Council meeting

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by Richard Uhlhorn

At the last Tuesday, February 27, Chelan City Council meeting, there were several items on the agenda of interest to the public.

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Planning Director Craig Gildroy went through several items in the 2018 Comprehensive Plan Package he felt was important to discuss before the Council considers the Planning Commissions upcoming recommendations

Planning Director Craig Gildroy brought forth a motion to accept the Chelan Planning Commission’s recommendation to prepare a recommendation on the 2018 Comprehensive Plan Package. The City Council sets the 2018 amendment docket and instructs the Planning Commission to prepare these recommendations.

Comprehensive Plan and Development Regulations may only be amended once a year. The Planning Commission took public input at its January and February meetings.

Gildroy touched on several items in the recommendations which included impact fees on developers. The Growth Management Act allows impact fees to be placed on developers based on impacts to parks, fire services, schools and transportation. “We may not be able to adopt all impact fees,” said Gildroy. “We need to come back to the Council on these issues.”

Gildroy said the Planning Department is monitoring the Date Mining situation and that a public hearing is scheduled for April 10.

He also brought up the Affordable Housing issue and stated that there is no density limitation in the city limits which allows for micro housing and small homes to be built. “How do we get the builders to build it them),” said Gildroy

Councilman Tim Hollingsworth remarked that cottage housing and building accessory dwelling units within the City Limits would provide a lot of opportunities for the rental market.

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Councilman Tim Hollingsworth feels that ADUs and other small housing units built in the City would help alleviate some of the rental problems.

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Councilwoman Wendy Isenhart feels that the local banking industry needs to be a part of the affordable housing conversation.

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Councilman Ray Dobbs

Councilwoman Wendy Isenhart said that the local banks should be a part of the conversation. “The need to be writing mortgages for that.” Councilman Ray Dobbs remarked that the banks can’t not do it (write mortgages) anymore. Gildroy stated that the education part is more important than the work.

Mayor Mike Cooney asked if the Planning Department has seen an increase in people coming in. Gildroy replied that they’ve seen more interest in multi-family units than other types of housing in the City. “We haven’t seen people coming for ADUs.” He reiterated that outside of the permitting to build an ADU, there are no hookup fees associated with them. They are restricted to 300 to 1,000 square feet.

City Clerk Peri Gallucci brought forth a motion to authorize the Mayor to execute the GovQA Professional Services Agreement for Public Records Requests.

“We have been inundated this year and have reached the $100,000 threshold,” said Gallucci. She told the Council that while she doesn’t track the time it takes to process these requests, it is time consuming. Logging public records requests is now required by law and the log must include, at minimum, the identity of the requester, the date of the request, the text of the request, a description of the records produced, a description of any redacted or withheld records, the reasons for any redactions or withholding, and the date of the final disposition of the request.

The requested software has the reporting metric points built in, has a comprehensive web portal where every document including emails are located in the same place, allows the requestor to log in and track their records requests, and offers proactive technology which will eventually reduce the time spent on fulfilling requests at a cost of $4,700 per year with a renewal fee each following year.

“The goal of this program (software) is that all the documents requested will be in that portal,” said Gallucci.

Councilman Ray Dobbs asked if a requester would be able to print from the portal. Gallucci said she wasn’t sure, but would find out.

City Administrator Mike Jackson brought forth a recommendation for a Council consensus to bring forth a motion at the March 13 Council meeting to hire Julie Brunner, Housing and Community Development, to perform preliminary work on drafting a housing availability and needs assessment for Chelan and to work on the potential of forming a Community Land Trust in Chelan and the surrounding area.

Mayor Cooney remarked, “We are not going to get affordable housing in our community without a land trust.” Hollingsworth added that having Brunner on board would help with this issue.”She would help us refine it and focus on the issues. There are a lot of organizations going on a parallel track.”

Dobbs asked if there was a plan for the City to subsidize the affordable housing issues. Cooney replied that there are plans for a major fundraiser and tax credit. “We are trying to sell this to the community… we have to sell it. It is a topic that is dominating and hurting our community. It is the highest priority for people who want to live here and work here,” said Cooney.

John Olson and Steve Kline both commented during the Citizen Comment period that the City needs to look into helping to provide rental units because 80 to 90 percent of the low income workers are looking for rentals, not to purchase a home.

The next City Council meeting is on Tuesday, March 13, beginning at 6 p.m.

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