Citizen Minutes – City Council Regular Meeting 05 January 2016

Citizen Minutes         City Council Regular Meeting                      5 January 2016

Submitted by Carol Brzeczek

 

A short agenda but still a very interesting meeting – the reports part of the meeting was the most interesting – a short discussion on the Ensor property where a WalMart and Sam’s Club are reported to be locating – according to Councilperson Debbie Brinkman in her comments to Peter Jones at The Villager newspaper.

Consent Agenda

b) RESOLUTION 02-2015 – A resolution approving an amendment to an agreement with the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District and Arapahoe County regarding design and construction of drainage and flood control improvements for the South Platte River at Reynolds Landing. APPROVED 7/0

c) RESOLUTION 03-2015 – A resolution supporting an application by the city on behalf of Littleton Public Schools for an Arapahoe County Open Space Grant for playground improvements at Damon Runyon Elementary School. APPROVED 7/0.

Consent Agenda items a) and d) were pulled for discussion.

a) Doug Clark pulled Resolution 1-2015 designating the public meeting posting locations as required by the Open Meetings Law. The locations have to be designated each year at their first meeting. City Clerk Heffner recommended the same locations as in the past; the city’s website, the bulletin boards at Bemis and at the main entrance of the city center, in the Municipal Courthouse and published in the Littleton Independent.

Jerry Valdes asked about the number of people that visited the buildings where the agendas are posted and about the circulation numbers for the Ltn Independent. Heffner did not know the number of visitors but the circulation of the Independent is about 1,800. Valdes would like to see the agenda on Next Door.

Clark amended to motion to approve adding a requirement that a direct link to the agenda be provided on the city’s home page. MOTION PASSED 6/1 with Debbie Brinkman dissenting. MAIN MOTION passed 7/0.

d) Certification of the December 15, 2015 city council regular meeting minutes. Clark pulled stating that their current method of providing minutes (nothing written – the online video is the official minutes of a meeting) is unworkable. Staff doesn’t even know what has been passed using the Streetscape Plan and the over spending by $300,000 on the river project as examples. The task of the Mayor is to authenticate what the council has passed and the mayor has to sign contracts without any minutes in front of them to check that the contract reflects the intent of the council majority. If the city clerk is certifying the video minutes there is no reason for the council to approve what she has certified. Clark mentioned the Journal that is required to be kept is all good but there are errors in the journal; votes not recorded correctly and items missing. When the minutes were in writing each council member had the opportunity to review and make corrections providing a better record of the proceedings than does the journal.

Valdes wanted to have a summary included and a location of where in the video the reader could go to access that particular event.

Peggy Cole wanted clear records of council action.

Clark made a motion to remove the definition of minutes from the city code. (Almost two years ago council voted to change the definition of minutes to be the video recording of the meeting so we no longer have written minutes. A journal is kept by the city clerk but it s lacking in detail based on my own efforts to use the journal to do research.) Clark did not get a second.

Bruce Beckman suggested that this subject be looked at in more detail. It was suggested that a journal be included in coming approval of tonight’s meeting as an example of what can be done to make the minutes more usable by everyone. He said they could discuss this further during General Business.

Brinkman moved to approve the original motion which PASSED 6/1 WITH CLARK DISSENTING.

2nd Reading

Ordinance 112-2015 to approve the designation of 5736 S Bemis Street as a historic landmark. Jocelyn Mills, Community Development Director, addressed the council but she was not speaking into the microphone so I only heard a few words.

Mrs. Quinney, property owner, also spoke to the council but she was not close enough to the microphone for discern what she said from where I sat.

Jeanie Erickson supported the approval and cited several statistics about the designation stating that we need to protect and preserve the history in Littleton. The citizens love the small town feel of Littleton and we need to preserve that. Skirting around zoning laws was not good for Littleton.

Pam Chadbourne agreed with Erickson. This house is the essence of Littleton – not what is happening across the street from this house – a reference to The Grove.

MOTION PASSED 7/0

General Business

Beckman asked the staff to come back with a point of view on what they heard about minutes in the earlier discussion. Michael Penny, city manager, said the video recording is accurate and it is what the council chose to use as the minutes. The Charter does require a journal be kept and it does not require council approval. He said they would get more consistent in getting it up on the website.

Brinkman said there was a vigorous discussion when the previous council made the change. It is about accuracy. Minutes were subjective and video minutes include the public and is the most accurate. She was not in favor of the change.

Cole said it was not either or – videos are important but action minutes are most useful. She has watched the videos several times and had a devil of a time finding what she was looking for.

Bill Hopping opted on the side of the video but likes a journal that includes who made the motion, who seconded and the action. Written minutes are archaic.

Penny said they would send out a sample of tonight’s meeting and get council comments. Phil Cernanec wants to get information on the estimated time it would take to get an automated transcription. Cole said she has heard from more than one person the desire for closed captions.

Clark said no one is arguing not to have the video or arguing about the value of the video. However, the need for written minutes that record the vote is important. The video is not searchable and you have to sometimes spend hours locating what you are looking for. Roberts Rules calls minutes a journal – the journal is the official record of council actions. Make the journal the minutes we actually approve   Council members can determine if they accurately reflect the meeting. Keep the video.

Penny said it would be easy to have both the journal and the video come back to council for approval.

Clark asked that the journal reflect which members of council are present, have the votes recorded, note who moves and seconds motions, and prefer that the pubic that speak to council be included.

Unscheduled Appearances

Kim Buckley addressed concerns she had regarding the police department. She had written to the city about her concerns without any response.

Tom Young recently received a ticket for leaving his vehicle idling to warm up and he was not present. He was stunned and spoke with the officer who said they were trying to cut down vehicle thefts and a new law was put into effect on July 1, 2011.   He asked for some clarification of the law.

Pam Chadbourne addressed the loss of the IREA building that was destroyed on 12/24/2015 and the council failed to enforce the zoning codes of the city.

Kent Bagley provided an update on RTD for 2016 and suggested that council extend the non-smoking area from the downtown area to include both light rail stations.

Valdes asked if RTD couldn’t have their own ordinance banning smoking on the platforms.

Reports

Clark thought they should look at the “puffer” law – if we have police issuing tickets for cars running and they are locked when we have police that leave their cars running – I can think of two instances where police cars were stolen….Clark wants the subject to be brought back to a study session.

Clark said he had a neighbor request an update on WalMart. He mentioned that Endeavor had provided a drawing for the development on the Ensor property that shows a WalMart and Sam’s Club on the south end and residential on the north end. The city manager started a process to update the zoning codes that would make zoning changes easer to achieve and allow a transfer of density without rezoning. City council passed the urban renewal plan to provide incentives in the form of tax increment financing. The county assessor has denied the inclusion of the Ensor property in the urban renewal plan and the city responded by suing the County. The trial date is 1/22/2016.

He continued saying that the council originally passed the urban renewal plan that included property that was outside the city limits that was TIFed. Amendment 300 passed which would require a vote of the people to ratified the modification to TIF but refused to take the question to the voters just two weeks after 300 passed.

The city is now paying the full legal cost to sue the County in order to be able to provide tax increment financing to Endeavor or whoever might develop the property.  Urban renewal was not supposed to cost the taxpayers of Littleton a penny.  Council has approved a $200,000 loan for them, staff is doing some of their admin and website work, and we are footing the legal bills for the law suit Clark mentioned.

On Dec. 10, 2015 the executive director for the urban renewal authority (LIFT) stated he was working with two developers – Endeavor for the Ensor property. Endeavor was waiting for the outcome of the lawsuit before proceeding.

Penny said there was no application on file, he was not in discussions with Endeavor and he had not seen any map. He said he just used the example of WalMart and Sam’s Club and he did not appreciate the accusations made. Clark restated that LIFT’s executive director was having conversations with Endeavor to which Penny said he had not talked to the executive director in 18 months.

Penny did admit he had conversations with Endeavor at one time but he had not heard from Endeavor in over a year. If a rezoning is required council will have to be involved. When there’s an application there will be a conversation between the city and Endeavor.

Clark suggested that Penny go back and review the tape of the LIFT meeting to hear Jim Rees saying he expects a submission in 2016 after the court date. Clark said the project would not come back to the council – the council has already voted when they passed the plan and passing the plan without a project took the mechanics out of the hands of council.

Brinkman asked for a discussion on the protocols for Reports. She was offended that reports were being used to fan the fumes of fear. Clark’s comments were a disservice to the community.

 

 

 

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