Workshop on Landscape and Millennial Marketing Campaign

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen Photo

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen's Council Preview

The Ames City Council begins at 6:00 PM.  The agenda includes:
 

Review -- Georgie Tsushima Memorial Skate Park

Dan DeGeest Photo

Dan DeGeest's Council Review

 

 

Hello friends,

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly.  After a day of reflection and several subsequent viewings of the Channel 12 recording, that is the only way I can think to accurately describe the August 9th, 2106, meeting of the Ames City Council.

The Good:

The Georgie Tsushima Memorial Skate Park

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen Photo

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen's Council Preview

The Ames City Council begins at 6:00 PM.  The agenda includes:
 

Review -- ERP Funding, Hotel on Lincoln Way, and Rose Prairie

Dan DeGeest Photo

Dan DeGeest's Council Review

 

Hello friends,

The Ames City Council review for July 26, 2016.  The agenda included:

ERP Funding, Hotel on Lincoln Way, and Rose Prairie

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen Photo

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen's Council Preview

The Ames City Council begins at 6:00 PM.  The agenda includes:
 

South Duff Improvements and Urban Deer Management

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen Photo

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen's Council Preview

The Ames City Council begins at 6:00 PM.  The agenda includes:
 

Review - Oak to Riverside rezoning

Dan DeGeest Photo

Dan DeGeest's Council Review

 

Greetings All:

Oak to Riverside rezoning

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen Photo

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen's Council Preview

The Ames City Council begins at 6:00 PM.  The agenda includes:
 

Workshop on development of old Middle School site

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen Photo

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen's Council Preview

The Ames City Council begins at 6:00 PM.  The agenda includes:
 

1. Workshop on Redevelopment of 321 State Avenue (Old Middle School Site).​
City Council will be looking at several issues related to the 321 State Ave. (Old Middle School) affordable housing site. The overarching issue with the site is how to build yet maintain affordability on the properties. Staff estimate housing costs (rent, utilities, insurance) for a family of 3 making $57K should be around $1400 monthly to fit HUD's definition of affordability. Staff report that this translates to a house with a purchase price at or below $160K. In order to achieve this, it will be necessary to explore creative solutions. Council is being asked for input on the following four topics, detailed in the staff report.
 

  1. Rental/ownership – Staff is looking for direction from Council about whether to pursue an ownership model only, or some rental options.
  2. Building types – Should the City investigate building types like duplexes/triplexes, some rezoning may be required.  Other options would include smaller lot sizes, uncovered parking, etc., which should bring down the cost of construction somewhat.
  3. % affordable housing – Households below 80% of the Ave. Median Income (AMI) are eligible to be considered affordable in this context. The City could go further and target households with lower incomes, such as those at the 60% AMI level. Federal requirements mandate at least 51% affordable housing on this property, since it was purchased w/ CDBG funds. Is Council satisfied w/ 51%, or do we want to seek a higher percentage? Should we target only those at 80% AMI, or should we do more to target those households at 60% AMI?
  4. Development process – Should the City seek a development partner for the whole site, or invest in engineering and construction of the subdivision and then sell lots to a developer?



Review - Department of Energy SolSmart Program

Dan DeGeest Photo

Dan DeGeest's Council Review

 

Hello All,

In a previous review I talked about how the City currently seems to spend a lot of Staff and Council time through land use policy, zoning, and other changes to meet the needs of development projects.  There were several more agenda items of this type at this meeting and also a report from the City Planning department on it's current workload and projected ability to take on new projects.  In a nutshell, the department is swamped and can't take on any more work, save maybe one medium sized project, until at least August. Please read below for a recap of some of the larger issues discussed.  As always, thanks for reading.

 

The Ames City Council for June 14, 2016.  The agenda included:

  • 41. Request from Ames Progressive Alliance for City to participate in Department of Energy SolSmart Program.
    At the last Council meeting, staff were directed to produce a report on a free program called SolSmart, offered through the US Dept of Energy. The Ames Progressive Alliance had asked the city to apply for this program. Staff’s report recommends applying for technical assistance through the program. (Staff recommends against applying for both the technical assistance and an on-site advisor.) The technical assistance includes examining our current ordinance and approval systems for individual solar installations.

    City Council voted 6-0 to have staff complete the SolSmart application process and seek a designation under their program.  They opted to not pursue the onsite technical advisor at this time.  The hope is that designation under this program (bronze, silver, gold) will help the City see how it rates compared to other municipalities and give a clear forward path for improvements.
  • 42. Resolution approving Preliminary Plat for 5752 George Washington Carver Avenue (The Irons), with stipulations.

    The Ames Golf and Country Club has entered into negotiations with a developer to develop a total of 34 homes on 20 acres of their property. The main decision on this item involves three houses planned along 190th. To build these three properties, the City would typically insist on a sidewalk and an interior street. The developer argues that these requirements would be cost-prohibitive. They also argue that a sidewalk along 190th wouldn’t connect to anything on the east, with a cell-tower and horse stables between the proposed sidewalk and the next closest development to the east.

    There was a lot of discussion about the sidewalks and share use paths for this project.  Given its corner location it is an important section of two different bicycle routes.  First, the frontage on 190th will be an important link from George Washington Carver to the new facilities on Grant Avenue that will eventually continue on to Gilbert.  The Council felt strongly that the developer pursue shared use path options for this frontage in exchange for the inclusion of the 3 large single-family residential lots.

    Secondly, the frontage along George Washington Carver help narrow the gap in the current facilities on this road and building a shared use path here could eventually become part of a larger regional trail system once the property south of the Country Club is developed.   Council pushed for the developer to adopt a 10-foot wide path, as that is becoming the defacto standard for trails like this, the High Trestle Trail in Slater being a good example.  The hope is that subsequent developments and Story County will follow suit when designing other trail links. 


  • 43. Resolution approving Preliminary Plat for 3535 South 530th Avenue, with stipulations.
    After receiving rezoning by Council on May 24th, the developer is back seeking approval for their preliminary plat. To do so, Council will need to waive the 750 vehicle per day limit for properties with one point of access. Also, the City is asking the developer to complete construction or provide financial security for the shared use path which is planned to the west of the storm-water detention area.

    Motion approving preliminary plat passes.
  • 44. Resolution approving Revised Preliminary Plat for Haydens Crossing Conservation Subdivision (5400, 5440, and 5442 Grant Avenue).
    The developer is proposing a change to their preliminary plat (which was first approved 9/22/2015). They are proposing to add two additional parcels of land (5440 and 5442 Grant Ave.) The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended 6-0 to approve the prelim plat, and staff recommends approval as well.

    Motion approving revised plat passes.

  • 45. Planning and Housing Department Work Plan.
    Council asked for a report on the workload of the Planning and Housing Dept. Planning and Housing has many significant projects in the works for this year, including the Lincoln Way Corridor Study, 321 State St. affordable housing (old middle school property), and the east industrial area annexation, just to name a few. The staff report indicates they have time for one additional major project, but not more. They list four options currently being considered by Council, several of which then follow in the agenda.
    • Transitional Housing zoning text amendment (see item 46)
    • 2700 Lincoln Way (see item 47)
    • Downtown Housing (how to improve housing options, provide parking, etc.)
    • Amendments to the northern gap area (Council directed staff to asses sanitary sewer capacity, but several land-use changes would be required to develop in this area too.)
       

      As I said in the introduction, the City Planning department is swamped with work and this report outlined and confirmed their current heavy workload.  Questions on how projects will affect the available staff time are usually the first ones asked when Council is discussing any given project.  The report indicated that there is bandwidth to do one additional major project until August when some projects will end they can reevaluate their workload.

       

      Despite this information the Council took action to move forward on two of the above projects, the Transitional Housing zoning text amendment (#46) and 2700 Lincoln Way (#47).  Staff indicated it would only be possible if the transitional housing zoning amendment was kept very simple and was not allowed to expand in scope.  See below for a recap of both of these items.
  • 46. Staff Report on Zoning Text Amendment for Transitional Housing Use in Residential Zoning District
    Recently, Council directed staff to report on the impact of allowing Transitional Housing uses in low-density residential areas. Staff report that within high and medium density zoning (where transitional housing is allowed) there are 170 one or two-family structures which could be used for transitional housing purposes. (Though these aren't necessarily available on the market currently.) If Council determines this isn’t enough, we will need to determine if we want to allow this use within low-density residential.

    Council motion to pursue allowing transitional housing in residential low-density neighborhoods passed 5-1 (Betcher NO).  Many advocates for this change were on hand including several prominent real estate developers who stressed how hard it is in Ames to find properties to support transitional housing. By opening this use up to RL zoning, social service providers should have significantly increased options for supervised, small group living arrangements.  Further, it was stressed that having this type of service in neighborhoods could increase their effectiveness based on the strength and support of the neighbors.  An example given was housing 3-4 single mothers in one home under the care of a trained supervisor from the service provider.
  • 47. Follow-Up Staff Report on the redevelopment of 2700 Block of Lincoln Way.
    The developer is back with a slightly altered plan from last Council meeting. They have increased the square footage of retail on the ground floor of their proposed apartments/boutique hotel. The main question is staff time, as this proposed development requires a minimum of seven changes involving Planning and Housing in order to proceed. If Council does not place a high priority on this project on agenda item #45 (Planning and Housing Dept Work Plan), then it shouldn’t proceed any further.

    The developer was back with a revised plan for this project, which they felt addressed the Council's comments and suggestions from the previous meeting.  The amount of retail was increased a bit and a few other tweaks.  But overall to me, the plan looked pretty much the same as before.  I don't think this project is totally out of line for this area of the City but I really question moving forward on it so quickly when their are concerned neighbors speaking out against it, the City Planning office is swamped and not working on this project now would free up a big amount of bandwidth, and as I said, the Lincoln Way corridor study (also a major planning department time commitment) is not finished yet.  Why not hold off on this for a couple months? 

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