City Council Regular Meeting 16 January 2018

Littleton City Council.       Regular Meeting.       16 January 2018

Roll Call – Kyle Schlachter was absent

Public Comment

Heather ?? appreciated the attention Littleton has paid to providing a walkable and a bicycle friendly community. However she was concerned about the lack of code enforcement and her concern about the safety of pedestrians and cyclists in Littleton.

Jeanie Erickson told council she is part of a Littleton Pedestrian and Safety Group and wants to work with staff on safety issues. A friend of hers was killed crossing Federal three years ago and today there is still no cross walk on that section of the roadway (vicinity of Berry and Federal). She was told one was coming but three years is too long to wait.

 Linda Knufinke presented part two of her presentation on just how much moving over to South Metro for fire service will cost property owners in Littleton. Without having the benefit of council having a real discussion on the true cost of going to South Metro one can only speculate but we know that South Metro charges a 9.25 mill levy to their customers. Using that 9.25 mills she took a look at three commercial properties and presented her findings.

1600 W Mineral – If the city gave up their 6.6662 mills permanently to help defray the cost of fire the property taxes on the property at 1600 Mineral would increase $1379. If the city does not give up any of their 6.662 mills their taxes will increase by $4928.

Reinke Brothers on Prince St – If the city does not give up any of their 6.662 mills their taxes will increase by $2005.

Echo Star – A slide from Knufinke’s presentation showing the impact the South Metro merger will have on Echo Star’s tax liability on one of their six properties.

Patrick Fitzgerald told council he was disappointed but not surprised that the firefighter’s got what they paid for in the election. They spent $9,000 and got three winners and one loser and the newly elected winners couldn’t wait to give the fire fighters what they paid for. He hoped the public took note.

Don Bruns recognized that citizens had fire protection at the top of their priority list but he does not believe there is real understanding about the real issues.   He was concerned that a couple of council members expressed personal weariness at further discussion of the issue. He was concerned about the impact on city resources if we go to South Metro and the lack of a fall back position if South Metro proves to be unworkable. He asked council what city services would have to be reduced to accommodate the added expense of South Metro. Will it be the library, street maintenance, police, or staff? He compared the South Metro merger to some bright shiny object that captured the attention of city council.

Carol Brzeczek quoted sections of the Charter that require the council to act only by motion, resolution or ordinance and that all votes shall be recorded in the Council Journal. But, at the Dec. 4th study session council made a series of decisions without making a motion, forming a resolution or an ordinance. In addition there is no public record of the votes that were taken at that meeting. Some of the decisions made at that study session were:

  • Eliminate West Metro and Denver Fire from any possible opportunity to respond to Littleton’s desire to merge our fire department
  • A stand alone fire department was eliminated as a possibility
  • South Metro was the only entity eligible for negotiation
  • An RFP process for obtaining bids for fire service was voted down and the use of a consultant to help staff wade through the analysis was also eliminated

All the decisions that were made at that meeting were made under the guise of providing direction to staff. There were no motions made, no resolutions presented or ordinances prepared. There are not recorded votes and there is no public record of the votes.

Pam Chadbourne – Asked if council could get away from grants for sidewalks (agenda item). When a citizen was killed on Federal, staff’s response was – we will get a grant for a light and a light has never been installed. She also said that the location was the wrong place – Federal Blvd has a curve making it a little complicated. An accident of this sort also impacts the driver of the car.

Pam asked if Littleton taxpayers had paid for the easements, that were on the agenda, to be vacated. She also offered support for the Wildlife ordinance coming up for first reading.

Consent Agenda Items

a) Resolution 07-2018 – A resolution specifying the location where notices of public meetings are to be posted and the newspaper where notices and other information required to be published will be printed for 2018.

b) Resolution 06-2018 – A resolution authorizing the approval of an amendment to the 2016 Arapahoe County Community Development Block Grant Program Subgrantee Agreement for the Littleton Sidewalk Improvement Project

c) Resolution 02-2018 – A resolution approving a Police Recruit Training Agreement with the City of Lakewood to use the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Lakewood Police Department’s Combined Regional Academy for recruit police
e) ID #18-003 – Approve the minutes of the December 19, 2017 regular meeting

Items 5a, 5b, 5c, and 5e were approved 6/0.

d) Resolution No. 04-2018 – An ordinance on first reading amending the municipal code to provide for the safety and protection of wildlife.

Carol Fey and Jerry Valdes pulled this item. Valdes asked staff to include, in the 2nd reading, what citizens should do if they encounter wildlife. Carol Fey was concerned about the penalty, which could be the confiscation of personal property and/or the destruction of the property. This could include someone’s automobile. She was also concerned because the term harassment was not defined. The city attorney was not present but Mark Relph said he would convey their concerns to him. Motion to approve was made by Valdes and seconded by Pat Driscoll. Motion passed 5/1 with Fey dissenting.

General Business

a) Resolution 03-2018 – A resolution to vacate a 20-foot sanitary sewer easement for Platte 56. Valdes moved and?? seconded – motion passed 6/0

b) Resolution 04-2018 – A resolution to vacate a 10-foot sanitary sewer maintenance easement for Platte 56. Fey moved and Elrod seconded – motion passed 6/0

c) Resolution 05-2018 – A resolution to vacate a 10-foot utility easement for Platte  Elrod moved and Fey seconded – motion passed 6/0

In response to Pam Chadbourne’s question, council was informed that the developer had paid for the easements. These three motions were discussed as one but passed on three separate motions.

Added Agenda ItemFey asked to have the attorney’s confidential memo to council on the amendment she made regarding the LIFT board to provide council with a recommendation be made public. (I will post on the website) She also asked for an explanation of the process that would be used to select the new LIFT members. Debbie Brinkman said there were 12 applicants scheduled to interview. Valdes and Brinkman will conduct the interviews and bring back their recommendations to council at a study session. They will have a conversation and then direct staff to bring back the names for approval at the following regular meeting. Fey asked if the council had a say in the recommendations? Brinkman said they (Valdes and Brinkman) would bring back their 5 choices. Brinkman said she could make the decision on her own but she thought it was important to have others involved. (The UR law states that the mayor shall make the appointments with the governing board’s approval) Peggy Cole objected to the word “slate” being used to describe the process and tried to clarify that there would be five different individuals decided upon.

Ordinances on Second Reading

a) Ordinance 34-2017 – An ordinance on second reading amending Title 10 of the City Code to add Preliminary Project Plan

This is the process that would allow, if a developer wanted, staff to go before the planning commission and the city council and pitch their project to see if there was support. The response from both groups would be non-binding. The process would provide for the developer to get some initial feedback at a high level. She mentioned that the project on Santa Fe Drive (storage units) that went to council was part of the impetus for this ordinance. She also thought it was just a good practice to follow. Pat Driscoll applauded the process – it is another way to say Littleton is Open. It is a great first step.

Brinkman asked Jocelyn Mills, Community Development Director, what the Planning Commission thought. She said they did have legal concerns.

Public Hearing

Pam Chadbourne said this does not benefit us but it does benefit the developers and most of them do not live in the community. We are stuck with what they build. In 2015 Mills approved The Grove. She thought the staff just needed to start saying no and enforcing the zoning code. She said thank goodness Michael Penny is gone.

Carol Brzeczek said she decided to see how this was working in the other municipalities that were cited in the staff report as a source of information in compiling this ordinance. What she learned is that Aurora did not use this process and the planner there said he had never heard of a project going to planning or the council prior to being formally filed. The planner in Longmont said they did not use anything like this in their city either. Arvada did have a similar process called a sketch plan and it was being used for the second time that very evening. She suggested that they try this on a trial basis.

Valdes said he understood that the staff would make the presentation and not the developer. Brinkman said the public would be allowed in the meeting but not allowed to speak. Driscoll thought developers needed reinforcement early on in the process. Peggy Cole asked if there was any prohibition from a developer talking to her prior to filing a formal application and she was told no. Until the developer files a formal application there is no quasi-judicial limitations and they could talk to a council member as much as they like. Cole asked why they needed this then. Mills said this would allow all the parties to be in the same room at the same time. Citizens can provide input to council and planning board members prior to the meetings if they desire to do so. Elrod moved and Driscoll seconded.

Fey expressed concern going back to her initial involvement in city issues when a building was being contested in her neighborhood. When she talked to a planner it was made clear that the planner’s job was not to work with the citizens but with the developer. She was stunned. She thought this process would solidify that relationship even more and exclude citizens even more. The purpose of zoning is to protect the rights and expectation of current property owners so it does not make sense to her to exclude the citizens. If developers want a reality check so they can revise and adjust accordingly they need input from the citizens as well. When developers meet with the citizens they see it as an opportunity to tell citizens how it will be and are not receptive to citizen input. Their earplugs and blinders are on.

Elrod thought this created a more transparent and open process early on as a lot of information does not become public early on. This will put the concept out there early. It does not eliminate any of the current steps of the process.

Valdes wanted to be reassured that anything they say during this process does not commit them in any way. The attorney agreed. He said he did not want the staff to do any cheerleading for the developer during these meetings.

Mark Relph said the intent is to be very objective and concise. Brinkman thought this was a missing step that was needed. They are elected to represent the community – they can email us and phone us. When developers save money Littleton is saving money. There’s an evenness of information. This is a good idea and a very defined process.

Fey amended the motion to include public comment so the developer gets complete and realistic input. Cole asked where that would fit in the process and Fey said during the course of the meeting. The city attorney had huge concerns with her amendment saying this would lead to more legal challenges. Fey asked him how public comment moves this closer to a public hearing when it is not a public hearing. Attorney said we could call it whatever we want but the court will look at what happens and suddenly input becomes binding. Yet we are saying it is informal and not binding said Fey. The attorney said he understood. Elrod said if the process is open to the citizens then it needs to be open to the developer. Cole said there was a potential for 1,000 citizens to submit their comments to council members and they could be submitted through public disclosure.

The attorney said he was not sure council would want the citizen input to be on the public record – then it looks like a public hearing.

The amendment failed on a 2/4 vote with Fey and Cole voting yes.

The main motion passed 5/1 with Fey dissenting.

b) Ordinance 40-2017 – An ordinance on second reading amending Title 8, Chapter 11, Section 8-11-2 of the Littleton City Code pertaining to filing of Special District Service Plans – This Ordinance will change the fee for filing requirements for proposed special district service plans from $250 to the change that was made October 17, 2017 as part of the budget. In other words there are two fees for the same requirement that contradict each other. This will eliminate the $250 for 1% of the proposed debt. Motion passed5/1 with Cole dissenting.

c) Ordinance 42-2017 -An ordinance on second reading amending Ordinance No. 23, series of 2017, known as the Annual Appropriation Bill. Passing this Ordinance will add a .5 FTE to the Planning Department. Motion passed 6/0

d) Ordinance 44-2017 – An ordinance on second reading amending Title 1, Chapter 9, Sections 1-9-1 and 1-9-2 of the Littleton City Code. This is a housekeeping ordinance that provides two different things. All fees and charges to the city have to be paid in lawful money (eliminates a $1,000 fee from being paid in pennies among other restrictions) and eliminates council members from acting as policemen. Motion passed 6/0


 Relph referred back to the citizens’ comments about the Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee saying it is not a committee of the city but they want public works to respond. The city takes their issues serious.

Regarding South Metro fire proposal – Staff will bring financial options to council. One would be to reduce the property taxes citizens pay to the city (we pay 6.662 mills and the city can permanently give up any or all of the 6.662 mills to offset the added expense to the citizens for merging our fire department with South Metro.) Right now there is neither a new draft proposal nor analysis. Hopefully by March 1 there will be something to discuss.

The Grant on Federal Blvd has gotten hung up with a ROW issue with Denver Water. (I think this is referring to the light on Federal where the fatal car/pedestrian accident was three years ago.)

Fey – her next District meeting will be April 21st at the Littleton Museum and will include a behind the scenes tour. She expressed her concern about the cost of fire protection because there has been no conversation about the cost since she has been on council and council has settled on only one option without a cost analysis. She would like to be able to discuss this with citizens and feels bad that she can’t and that there are no alternatives.

Peggy Cole mentioned the need for a longer traffic arm at the traffic light at Mineral and Broadway.

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