Littleton City Council Meeting Minutes – 15 July 2008

Littleton City Council Meeting Minutes

July 15, 2008


Reminder:  These minutes do not reflect the entire meeting – just what I consider to be the meat of the meetings.  The official minutes are on the City’s website and I suggest you refer to them for a complete rendition of the minutes.


Unscheduled Appearances

Bev Morrisey, a Meadowbrook resident, told the council that the traffic on Mineral between Santa Fe and Platte Canyon is a problem.  The speed limit is 45 mph – the only stretch of Mineral that is not 35 mph.  The residents have asked for more patrol in that area and were told “by the police” that it is a low crime area and they can’t patrol that area as they are short handed.  She offered some solutions that might help slow traffic down.

1.      Reduce the speed limit to 35 mph

2.      The traffic light at Polo Reserve is for pedestrians only – use it to control traffic as well.


She said a lot of parents are fearful for their children’s safety and their pet’s safety.  She said she spoke with Debbie Brinkman who suggested one of those signs that flash the speed limit and your speed as you travel.


Doug Clark told Mrs. Morrisey that it was news to the council that the police were short-handed.  He offered police observation in that area and she told him to check the east bound traffic early in the morning and west bound traffic 4:30 pm to 5pm.  She reiterated that she had been told that the police have no interest in patrolling that segment of Mineral.


Mr. Saurini, another Meadowbrook resident, mentioned that the concrete slabs making up the road have shifted and he felt they contributed to the problem.


Brinkman said she would be meeting with the HOA next Monday and asked Jim Woods if he could provide some information for her to take to the meeting.  Woods said it was not likely by Monday.  Brinkman asked if Craig Fessler, traffic engineer, could go with her to the meeting.


Woods said they have a systematic approach to address traffic.  The issue of the concrete has come up before. 


Carol Brzeczek told the council that she disagreed with Tom Mulvey’s motion to continue to use the current Legislative Rules and Procedures.  She realized that the document before them was lengthy and starting such a discussion at 10:00pm was not ideal.  She also understood that the circumstances by which the subject came to their agenda was a problem for some council members but those problems should be set aside to do what needed to be done.  As it is there is still inconsistencies in the current document specifically in regards to the understanding of study sessions and special meetings.  She thought confusion still existed for council members and for the public and it would benefit both if the confusion was eliminated.


Consent Agenda

Resolution to transfer $14,000 from the contingency fund to purchase additional police uniforms and equipment was approved 7/0.


Brinkman had pulled the following two consent agenda items.


Ordinance amending the current code pertaining to picketing – Brinkman needed some clarification from Peggy Cole who initiated this agenda item.  She thought it was just word-smithing the existing ordinance.


Cole explained that she thought the last attempt to change ordinances to deal with the DNC had some validity and this was her attempt to give the police more options to deal with unruly DNC attendees.


John Ostermiller asked Suzanne Staiert what are the differences between Littleton’s ordinance and recent legislative action.


Staiert said the recent legislation dealt with targeted picketing of a residence and addressed where vehicles could be parked and limited the movement of the individuals picketing.  Littleton’s ordinance is not that specific – they are very different.


Tom Mulvey said he would not be in support of the changes – it is basically a change of words.  The Rocky Mountain News is checking all new ordinances and if we need to change an ordinance we need to take a broader look so we don’t miss anything.


Clark said the ordinance did what we wanted it to do before the changes.  Motion was defeated 3/4 with Clark, Brinkman, Ostermiller, and Mulvey dissenting.


Ordinance amending the current code pertaining to the offense of throwing missiles – Cole said the changes were more than just word-smithing and she thought it was a fair refinement of 6-4-15(a).


Mulvey said he felt the same way about this change – we need to wait to see what Denver comes up with and then see if we want to make changes.


Ostermiller said it was playing word games – the word hurl, which had been included in the ordinance, had a whole new meaning in the last 5 years.


Clark said they already have ordinances that address the changes that were included in Cole’s recommended changes.


Cole said she had consulted with the city attorney about whether or not the additional and new language added anything to the ordinances and I trust her and I still trust her.  Motion failed on the same 4/3 vote as the picketing motion.


Water Tap Fee Elimination

Dave Svenson commended the council and staff for eliminating the water tap fee.  It is the right step to take – he saw the tap fee as taxation without representation and a double tax.  The City does not have water infrastructure to maintain and never has.  It is a great statement to make to business to say that Littleton is open for business.


Brinkman moved that the water tap fee be eliminated – Jose seconded. 


Jim Taylor said he did not want to argue with Svenson but Littleton does own some water and the money could be used to fund the development of that water.  Taylor then offered an amendment to postpone the effective date of the elimination of the tap fee until October 15th to coincide with the effective date of the increase in sewer tap fees.  Mulvey seconded the motion.


Woods said it was a reduction in fees and he thought the intention of council was to get the fee off the books as soon as possible.


Cole thought the council wanted the combined changes in water tap fee and open space fees to be revenue neutral so if this is implemented now it would not be revenue neutral.


Staiert saw the conflict in setting an effective date for the elimination of the water tap fee before discussing and setting the date for the increase in open space fees.  The council could set the date for one and then set the same date for the other.


Clark said if they pass the amendment there is no guarantee that the same amendment will pass on the Open Space Fees and suggested a motion be made to table the motion until after they decide on the Open Space fees.


Taylor moved that they Table the vote on 8a until after 8b has been decided.  Ostermiller said there’s an amendment on the table and Clark told him that a motion to Table takes precedence.  Brinkman seconded the motion to Table which was approved on a 5/2 vote with Ostermiller and Jose dissenting.


Open Space Fees

Svenson said he had mixed emotions about his fee.  He recognized that the fees are low but had concerns about the fees being applied to land that was redeveloping.  If you take raw land and develop it you are impacting the parks but areas that are already developed may not have anymore impact on the parks once redeveloped.  He agreed with Taylor’s concern for the developers who had their budgets established and construction loans set – an additional burden might cause the project to be withdrawn.  He supported Taylor’s motion to tie the effective date to the sewer tap fee date.


Jack Randall thought the fee should be the same whether or not it was a single family or a multi-family residence.  A developer building 4 separate homes would be paying more in fees than a developer building a 4-plex.  He disagreed with Svenson saying any developer has a contingency built into their budget and the fee represents 1% of the retail value of a single family home and the 1% would not have that large of an impact.  He also thought any redevelopment should not be charged the fee if they do not add additional residential.  He did not agree with postponing the fee increase as it would cost the city some major dollars for open space which is a serious commitment of this council and the citizens. 


Marty Bolt said he was offended as a taxpayer that the two fees were being linked.  Just because you lost the $3,000 on the water tap fees doesn’t mean you should collect $3,000 in Open Space fees.  I don’t see a connection.  You collected the $3,000 for years when it should not have been collected.  It presupposes that the first $3,000 was available for Open Space and he was disturbed by the mentality of offsetting the lost $3,000.  We lost it so someone else has to make up for it?


Clark offered an explanation.  Currently developers are required to dedicate land for open space – 10 acres per 1,000 residences.  The City can opt to take money in lieu of the dedicated land and the money is calculated by this Ordinance based on the number of units built.  Multi-family have fewer units than single family and it makes sense to take money in lieu of dedicated land.  Two years ago the discussion began.  The amount we charge for the money in-lieu hasn’t changed in decades.  At the time he brought it up the council balked at his suggested $5,000 fee saying it was too large of an increase.  At the same time, but unrelated, they were discussing the water tap fees of $3,000 – but that figure actually is adjusted based on the size of water line. A multi-family will have more than the ¾” line of a single family residence.


One year ago council decided to get rid of the water tap fee since we have no water utility.  Because we were undercharging for Open Space fee it made sense to do both at the same time.  We are not increasing the Open Space fee because we are no longer collecting the water tap fee but because we should be increasing the fee closer to the apprised value of the land.


Three thousand dollars is not there but due to the economy Clark was okay with the $3,000 recognizing it is not enough and recognizing it is not a replacement by a revenue neutral situation.


Regarding redevelopment – people use the parks and the more people you have the more use the parks have.  It makes sense if you increase density you pay a different rate.  Clark was sorry that it is messy and it looks like they are linked but they are not.


Brinkman moved to increase the Open Space fees.  Taylor amended her motion to make the effective date October 15 for reasons already mentioned.


Cole said the fees have not been modified since 1984.


Ostermiller said a developer will actually save money because tap fees were more than the Open Space fee. 


Taylor’s amendment failed to receive a second.  Main motion passed 6/1 with Taylor dissenting.


Back to Water Tap Fees – Taylor’s motion to amend the main motion failed on a 1/6 vote.  The main motion to eliminate the water tap fees passed 7/0.


Hudson Garden Noise

Clark said they have two choices since the concerts at Hudson Gardens are within their noise code limits.          

            Do we want to change our noise ordinance?

            Do we want to live with the situation?


Clark said as a kid he lived 5 miles from the train tracks and depending on the weather he could hear the trains at times and not at other times.


Cole asked if Hudson Gardens had a special permit for the concerts.  Ernie Rose said they did not – based on code they are allowed to have concerts.  He said there have been other complaints from Aspen Grove on their movie nights.  Both Hudson Gardens and Aspen Grove sit low – once you get to Santa Fe Drive the traffic drowns out the noise but you can hear the concert noise east of Santa Fe Drive and even though it can be heard it does not measure on his device.  You might get spikes but not a constant read.  He agreed that the weather played a role.


Jose said he can hear LHS band – it comes and goes – it is just one of those things you have to live with.


Cole said she received calls from people who were not thrilled.  Wind was not a factor in whether or not the concerts could be heard.  You could hear “we are going to take a 15 minute break” very clearly.  Are we allowing the concert to be too loud?  She said her husband went to bed early, had to keep the windows closed to drown out the noise but was awakened by the concert anyway.


Woods acknowledged Cole’s point but said you can’t get a decibel reading to take the issue to a Judge.  There are very practical and technological limitations to handle the variation that Cole is talking about.


Cole said not everything in the ordnance relies on decibel levels.


Woods said if council wants us to use different regulatory mechanisms for a noise ordinance we can do that.


Clark said they needed a motion.  The question is do we amend the Ordinance or change the volume of concerts or let things go the way they are?


Brinkman said there were 7 complaints.  Based on the volume of noise, and she doesn’t diminish the fact that people are annoyed, they can’t lower the decibel level so they are not disturbed – how low can you go without impacting the quality of the concert?  She moved to let the concerts play out for the rest of the season and ask staff to take a look at reading the noise levels at the homes where complaints have come and have a larger discussion on the issue at a study session when they have more information.  Cole seconded and motion passed 5/2 with Taylor and Ostermiller voting no.


Trash Collection

Cole initiated this topic. 


Ostermiller said this has been discussed in the past several times.  The HOAs get lower rates because they do the billing and the trash collection company only sends out one bill.  If we, as a city, negotiate lower rates we will have to do the billing work on our side.  He was opposed to a monopoly which would totally destroy competition.


Cole said she was not abdicating for the City to do so but asking if they should ask the citizens if it should be a council priority.


Taylor said there were 2 issues. 

            1.  Larry Berkowitz had let them know about the problems this would create. 

            2.  If you ask the citizens if they want this you need to ask them how to pay for it.  He suggested, several years ago, that deTABOR money be used to pay for on trash collector and it went over like a lead balloon. 


Cole moved to have council solicit citizen’s views on a single source trash collection as a priority for council.  There was no second.


2009 Budget Values

Cole had been reading about how other cities do their budgets and she suggested this council adopt some goals and values about their budget making decisions.  She moved to establish council goals, values and principles to guide the budget process.  Taylor told her the motion was too open ended for him to support.  There was no second to her motion.


Cole then moved to adopt the 4 values to guide the 2009 budget process. 

1.      Protecting and maintaining essential services

2.      Working to keep Littleton safe and secure.

3.      Producing a budget that ensures the fiscal health ofhte City.

4.      Ensuring the ongoing fiscal accountability of the City


Taylor seconded her motion.


Ostermiller said number 3 and 4 were spelled out in the Charter and the responsibility of the City Manager.  There are 7 different ideas of what essentials are.  No one wants to work in opposition to number 2.  The budget is the City Manager’s budget – we decide priorities based on votes.  Each council member has to adopt values, goals, and principles.  Meetings are open can people can listen to hours and hours of discussion.  I don’t think we’d come to an agreement.


Brinkman said she agreed with Ostermiller.  The 4 items while correct – we were elected and ran on those principles. The citizens trust us to do 1,2, 3, and 4.  I mean no disrespect but it is kind of like “Dah” – I don’t need a document.


Jose said they do all four.  Motion failed on a 2/5 vote with Clark, Brinkman, Ostermiller, Mulvey, and Jose dissenting.



Julie Freyberger and Margie Munoz were appointed to fill vacancies on BIAAC.



Woods announced that Craig Fessler has been recruited away from Littleton by a large consulting firm.  It will be a major career opportunity for him.  Woods noted that Fessler and Mary Roberts both had been recruited intimating the quality of personnel we have in Littleton.


Cole said she had heard from citizens that the Charter is not being fulfilled as certain financial documents required to be in the Library were not there.  Woods will talk to Doug Farmen about the matter.


Mulvey attended the grand opening of the Broken Tee Golf Course.


Ostermiller commended Chief Mullin who was named Chief Fire Officer.


Brinkman watched the Planning Commission (PC) meeting last night and Linda Knufinke mentioned the City Council Workshop Report.  Only two members of the PC were aware of the report and council gave PC direction about the intent of the Complan.  Brickman asked about the distribution of the report.


Kelli Narde said it was their practice to send it to all board and commission members as well as community stakeholders.  They distributed about 250 and all members of the PC should have received them.


Woods said there were some new PC members and he would check to make sure they were on the distribution list.


Brinkman said it was not the new members that didn’t have the report.


Narde said it was on the website.


Brinkman suggested that the August 12 meeting with the PC be limited to the PC only because they were struggling with how to get everything done in a 2 hour time period.


Woods said he would yield his time.  Brinkman asked Woods to let Dennis Swain know that any information that can be given to the council prior to the meeting would give them more opportunity to be prepared.


Jose said Interfaith Task Force is doing well but could use more money and canned goods.  The Littleton Bega group is waiting for the 30 Aussies to arrive in August and the Littleton Cemetery has been very quiet lately.


Clark asked for an update on the procedures for dispatch the first available unit to TrailMark.  He said it was a matter of high priority.


Clark moved that the 2nd Tuesday meeting of council begin at 7:30 to accommodate Ostermiller. Brinkman seconded.  Taylor said he would not object but he asked that they not have 3 or 4 subjects so we can get done at a reasonable hour.  Motion passed 7/0.


There will not be a council meeting on August 26th.





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