Citizen Minutes – Littleton City Council Regular Meeting 2 February 2016

Littleton City Council Regular Meeting 2 February 2016
Citizen Minutes

All members present.

Student Gabriella Ahles who will be going to Bega (Littleton’s Sister City in Australia) gave the audience a preview of her presentation on Littleton that she will give in Bega.

Carol Brzeczek thanked the city for the snow plow – the first time ever has there been a snow plow in the neighborhood on the first day of a snow storm.

Brzeczek disagreed with the policy statement that guides council to oppose any effort to reduce their power to use urban renewal and tax increment financing.

Brzeczek also asked how it was that a subdivision exemption was being used to approve the land for the TrailMark Fire Station #19. The Subdivision Exemption is all about dividing land and what they were doing was combining land. She asked for this to be explained.

Paul Bingham appreciated the new start time of 7pm for meetings and he also thanked Mark Relph for the snow plow in his neighborhood – he said it was the 4th time in 54 years! Paul, as an engineer who has reviewed drawings for over 40years, asked the council to have the 24×36 drawings reproduced in actual size rather than reduced down to the size of an Ipad.

Patrick Fitzgerald, a P.E. (Civil Engineer) talked on the same subject stating the problems that were apparent in the last Oakbrook Assisted Living public hearing. The plans had been reduced so much so that they were very misleading and in some instances just wrong.

Pat Cronenberger thanked the city for the snow plow on her street too! She applauded the council on their forthcoming actions to approve legislative policy. She was shocked to hear that a council member did not want to use the city’s email system.

Consent Agenda – All consent agenda items were pulled with the exception of one .

Resolution to approve a funding agreement with RTD for the Shopping Cart was approved 7/0.

Council Protocols and Standards – Doug Clark pulled this item. He did not support the statement that council members should be prepared to make decisions for the best interest of the public whether those decisions were popular or not. He said he did not believe that once someone was elected they became much smarter than the citizens that elected them. He referenced the WalMart decision over 8 years ago when the council approved a WalMart with a room full of citizens that disagreed and who eventually overturned the council decision.

Clark said he was disturbed by a councilmembers reference to him being spooky because Clark wants to use his personal email account when that same person uses his personal email account when communicating with Doug. (Bruce Beckman made the comment at the last study session.) Clark clarified what the law requires for an open records request correcting information provided at the last meeting by the city manager.

Beckman said Clark had an opportunity to discuss all this at the study session and could have presented members with the information but doing so at the meeting tonight put the others at a disadvantage. Beckman preferred to vote on the document on the consent agenda without further discussion.

Clark reminded Beckman that the city attorney was not at the last meeting and therefore was unable to address the issues and thought it was strange that there was an objection to Clark’s desire to discuss before voting.

City attorney, Kristen Scheldorn, said that personal email accounts are also subject to an open records request. Using the city’s server allows the city manager and the city attorney to capture emails to fulfill a CORA request.

Clark thought their procedure should match the state law.

Debbie Brinkman said it was the 3rd or 4th discussion. Council makes policy and we have a policy for ourselves to use the city’s email system. If you don’t want to use the city email that’s your choice and you understand the consequences. Clark said he searched for a policy and there is none.

Protocols and Standards of Conduct were passed 6/1 with Clark dissenting.

Legislative Rules – pulled by Jerry Valdes

Valdes took issue with the wording of the approval of minutes. Council no longer has written minutes – the video of the meeting serves as the official minutes and council does not review the video to verify it is correct. They approve the city clerk’s certification of the video and Valdes wanted the language written to reflect what they actually do. Valdes moved to amend and Brinkman seconded. Peggy Cole then moved to postpone and Clark seconded.

The amendment was approved 6/1 with Clark dissenting.

Beckman then brought up the meeting start time. (At the study session last week they decided to start their meetings at 7pm – the time they always started until the past couple of years. Beckman was the tie breaking vote.  Beckman said he looked at the city calendar and all the meetings are noted on the calendar to begin at 6:30. He made a motion to return to the 6:30 start time and Brinkman seconded. Clark said if the calendar is the concern then council should not cancel meetings either. It is unfortunate that the information is printed on the calendar. He reminded the council that the majority wanted the 7pm start time.

Cole said if they were starting earlier it would concern her but to start at 7 is not a concern. Most people get their info from other sources.

Phil Cernanec prefers the 6:30 start time. Valdes thought 7pm was better for the citizens. Brinkman said she heard positive comments about the 6:30 start time.

Motion to begin the meetings at 6:30 was approved 4/3 with Cole, Clark and Valdes dissenting.

Council Policy Statements – pulled by Clark

Clark disagreed with the State and Federal Mandate policy statement and he agreed with Brzeczek on the concern for urban renewal policy statement, especially after the support 300 rec’d from the Littleton voters. He thought the council should consider the issues separately as they come up. (What this statement is used for is guidance for staff and council members. For instance, the policy that Clark disagreed with states that the council will not support any effort that erodes their ability to use urban renewal and the use of tax increment financing.)

Policy statement was approved 6/1 with Clark dissenting.

Site Development Plan for the Trail Mark Fire Station #19 was pulled by Clark.

Clark said the South Suburban Quit Claim Deed did not qualify for the Subdivision Exemption. The Subdivision Exemption allows for land to be divided into not more than two parcels. He said it was the same issue on The Grove – property was not divided but combined and that required a change in land use.

Brinkman (quite exasperated by now) moved and I think it was Cernanec that tseconded.

Public Works Director, Mark Relph, said the Subdivision Exemption was used for a property line adjustment. Clark said the Subdivision Exemption was incorrectly applied to The Grove and Relph said South Suburban had already approved the Quit Claim Deed. Clark said that does not answer his question.

Relph looked to the city attorney for help. Scheldorn said the city did not have a process for adjusting the boundaries. Clark said they did – it is called platting.

Bill Hopping said he did not pretend to be a lawyer. This type of assemblage is common and he thought they were spending an inordinate amount of time snipping this at the edges. He called the question. Brinkman seconded. Approved 5/2 with Clark and Cole dissenting.

Main motion to approve passed 5/2 with Clark and Cole dissenting.

What Clark is referring to with The Grove – the Subdivision Exemption was used in order to avoid a public process. The Grove situation did not divide property but combined property and the code is very clear that the purpose of the Subdivision Exemption is to divide a large lot into two. There are requirements that have to be met in order to use the Exemption dealing with sewer, water, location, and adherence to applicable codes, regulations and ordinances.

Meeting Minutes – pulled by Clark

Clark has expressed his concern over the Journal that is required by the Charter in last weeks meeting. He has reviewed several Journals only to find them to be inaccurate – missing motions, votes not tallied properly etc. He believes that the council should be checking for accuracy.

Brinkman told Clark that this was his opportunity to offer corrections to the Journal to which he said it is not a motion to approve the Journal but a motion to approve the clerk’s certification of the video. Brinkman moved to approve the video and Cernanec seconded. Valdes said he did not read the Journal. Clark said that was the problem – no one is looking at it and the end results is we don’t know what we passed and what the votes are and we are legally obligated and we aren’t doing our job to make sure an accurate record exists.

Cole asked why the Journal was an attachment. City Clerk, Wendy Heffner, said in November 2014 the Journal was no longer attached – they are just action minutes.

Hopping said the video is the official set of minutes and the Journal is the clerk’s interpretation of the meeting and it won’t be important 5 to 10 years out.

Motion passed 6/1 with Clark dissenting.

Unscheduled Citizen Appearances

Don Bruns, who has had a career working for the Federal Govt in parklands gave a hurried presentation. I have asked him to supply me with his graph (which could not be seen because the equipment wasn’t working) and his text. I will post on the Blog once I have received it from him. He was expressing concern about the presentation that was given last week at the study session.

Carol Brzeczek asked why the City has not determined the base for sales tax increment for the four urban renewal areas as required by law. The County has done so for property taxes and has published the TIF Breakdown that indicates over $266,000 in property taxes will be diverted from the schools, parks, city, county and urban drainage and there is not a single urban renewal project. ($169,330 from LPS, $47,086 from Arapahoe County, $21,116 from Littleton, and $27,420 from South Suburban)

Pam Chadbourne told the council to pay attention to Don Bruns – he is an expert in the field and the only one she has heard at this level. Chadbourne commented on Beckman’s concern about new items coming up at a council meeting and the disadvantage the new items present. She suggested that there is no time urgency – get it right. She told the council it was totally appropriate to question anyone there – everyone makes mistakes. She was glad they postponed the approval of the earlier Resolution – the public deserves the chance to see the language before it is approved.

Marty Brzeczek asked for the compliance report for the Subdivision Exemption. All lots are supposed to abut a dedicated and accepted city street and the water and sewer had to be adequate. Where is the verification report to support the Subdivision Exemption?

Kent Bagley thanked the city for the snow plows. He said the council had important work to do rather than discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. He told council that legal opinions come from attorneys – he objected to citizen statements about the law. He supported the housing study.

Cole requested that each council member have an opportunity to speak to an agenda item before the question is called.

Clark mentioned the 2014 Res. 88 that no urban renewal project would be approved without the full support and approval of all taxing entities. Carol Brzeczek has told us that $266,000 will be collected from increment. Cory Hoffman and Ken Fellman then changed the definition of a project to mean any activity or undertaking so a plan is not a project so they can collect the $266,000 without the approval of the County or Urban Drainage. We have a letter from the County Board of Commissioners that states they can keep all of the increment if the city drops the lawsuit against the County on the ag land. And that the offer they rec’d is not the offer the city manager originally made.

Valdes reported a meeting at the museum on the future of Ketring Lake will be held Feb. 11. There is a possibility of a well. If the works begins it will be ongoing for 10 to 14 days and will be loud. Meeting is 6pm to 7:30.

Hopping challenged the council to think long-term. They need to balance between the detail and the long-term strategic thinking. We need to enhance where we live, work and play.

Brinkman – Hear! Hear! She, Mark Relph, Tim Weaver and traffic safety met with the residents along Mineral and Platt Canyon about the traffic concerns and safety issues due to the high traffic volume.

She appreciated Don Bruns presentation.

Beckman said they have to look 20 years out. The manager has three areas to get a handle on – Transportation, Housing and Economic Development.

He mentioned the infrastructure needs and will we have the money to do what needs to be done. Some council members will be asked to help with this. (This ia all about a $70 million dollar bond issue that they have mentioned several times over the past year. Hold on to your pocket books!)

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One Response

  1. The Littleton, Awake Facebook webpage posted some standard letters of “No Confidence” against the four City Council members that voted to dismiss Michael Penny as the City Manager.

    The letter lists a number of Mr. Penny’s accomplishments as City Manager. Unfortunately, those accomplishments often required taxpayers to cover a lot of the costs of what should have been private development – as well as a consistent manipulation of processes that would have allowed citizen involvement (thereby avoiding many of the problems and issues that have arisen in our City.) I hope that Littleton residents take time to learn the whole truth about these issues before expressing a vote of No Confidence in the Council. The vote actually restored my confidence because it was clearly time for a change in the City Manager position.

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