Review: Boomtown - density in Campustown and on South Duff, growth to the north, old Middle School property

Dan DeGeest Photo

Dan DeGeest's Council Review

 

Hello Friends,
 

Development in Ames seems to follow this pattern - the Land Use Policy Plan (LUPP) and Zoning allow for A and the developer wants B - and as the clock ticked past 11:00 PM on Tuesday I really started to wonder how effectively our City government is operating.  Granted, it was a long agenda but a majority of the time was spent talking about land use changes, zoning changes, and requests from developers to alter our current ordinances and policies to allow their projects to move forward.  This is bad for a number reasons.  It makes every project really complicated and effectively makes development only accessible to really big firms that can afford engineers, lawyers, and other experts who can navigate all the details.  That complexity is then pushed down the line to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council who must attempt to make informed decisions in very short amounts of time.
 

For example, this week's Council packet, which is published just a few days before the meeting, was 315 pages long.  I go through these every weekend before the meeting, I hope all our Council members and Mayor do the same, and anyone who says they read and understood it all is kidding themselves.  It makes the council meetings very long.  It deters the public from showing up.  It compels the Mayor to limit public input.  It leads to hasty decisions when fatigue and hunger take over and all anyone wants is the sound of the gavel signaling adjournment.  See below for a recap of another such meeting.
 

Ames City Council May 24, 2016.  The agenda included: Please note that Councilperson Betcher was absent and did not participate any votes.

  • 44. Staff report regarding Welch Avenue Bicycle/Pedestrian Project.
    Welch Ave. Bike/Ped project: in 2014, Council directed staff to investigate a temporary pilot project which would eliminate east-side parking on Welch to create a protected area for gathering (eating, sitting, etc.) on the 100 and 200 blocks of Welch Ave. There are several methods to eliminate parking, ranging from changing the paint on the road to safer, more substantial barriers such as concrete planters. Options for Council to consider now include the following: which method to pursue for parking closure (paint or planters), additional street furniture to be installed, source of funding, and what information to collect during this trial project.

    There was quite a bit of discussion on this one, there always is when any change to parking is being considered.  Also, there was a fair amount of confusion on Council about what was actually being proposed.  This project is an experiment to see how reducing parking on one side of Welch and increasing pedestrian gathering space impacts the usability and vibe of the area.  With Council approval to buy concrete planters and furniture it will create places to sit, drink a coffee, eat lunch, or simply people watch.  This is not a bicycle lane or any other form of bicycle treatment and the benefits for bicyclists are simply from reduced interaction with parked cars and car doors and it could provide some increased bike parking which is sorely missing in Campustown currently.  I predict that cars and busses will also find this same reduction in parked car interactions very beneficial and traffic flow will actually increase and improve.  Everything that is being purchased can be reused elsewhere when/if the project is terminated or continue to be used on Welch when it is rebuilt in 2020.  With recent votes that have limited the potential in Lot X for pedestrian areas I am glad to see Council support this experiment on Welch.

    Motion approving funds for concrete planters, furniture, and installation of the project passes 5-0.
  • 45. Resolution approving Preliminary Plat for Crane Farm Subdivision (896 South 500th Avenue) 
    Council approved rezoning of the property at 896 500th Ave., now the developer is back with a preliminary plat. Because the project is in an incentivized growth area, a development agreement is necessary before the final plat. (The developer’s agreement will outline which improvements will be the responsibility of the city because we incentivize growth in that area, and which will be the responsibility of the developer.)

    This project has been talked about at length at previous meetings and with the major land use hurdles complete it has now received approval of the preliminary plat with a handful of conditions that must be met regarding road, intersection, frontage, and public bus improvements.  Resolution passed 5-0.
  • 46. Resolution setting date of public hearing on granting Access Easement across City property (Welch Avenue Parking Lot X) to benefit 122 Hayward Avenue.
    The next Council meeting on June 14th would be the normal time to set this public hearing. The developer is asking Council to hold a special meeting on May 31st, in order for them to be able to keep to their development schedule.


    Rather than waiting two weeks for a regular scheduled meeting the developer would like the Council, City Manager, Mayor, Staff, City Clerk, Channel 12 employees, and so on to assemble at a special meeting to take action on their request for an easement.  A motion to hold a special meeting on May 31 passes 4-0 (Nelson abstaining due to potential conflict of interest).  Anyone interested in this particular easement and it's impacts on Lot X, Welch, and Hayward should plan to attend the hearing.
  • 47. 321 State Avenue (Former Middle School) Options for Development Workshop.
    Options to develop 321 State Ave.: Council is being asked to decide if we want to consider only single-family detached housing, or if we want to consider a variety of ownership/rental types which aren’t currently permitted in RL zoning. Neighborhood input and support will be essential in order to consider alternatives to the single-family owner-occupied detached housing model.

    A fair amount of discussion on this one.  It's not a question if this site will be developed with affordable housing, just a question of how.  Considering more than just single-family detached gives many more options, price ranges, and the chance for a very creative development unlike anything done prior in Ames.  The motion here is simply to let the Planning and Housing Department explore the options and will not result in a plan, just ideas and options.  When you buy a market rate home you want options, you want to see  variety of things and find what works best for you.  Why should that be any different for affordable housing?   Also a range of housing styles will break up the homogeneous uniformity that often plagues these types of developments and results in them being labeled and stereotyped as "low-income" or other, often derogatory, terms.  Motion to explore expanded options passed 4-1.
  • 48. Resolution approving Preliminary Plat for 125 and 130 Wilder Avenue (Sunset Ridge Subdivision, 7th Addition).
    Council approved a Major Site Development Plan, but to proceed the developer still needs approval of a prelim and final plat.

    Resolution approving passes 5-0
  • 49. Staff Report on redevelopment of 2700 Block of Lincoln Way.
    Redevelopment of 2700 block of Lincoln Way: Developers of the property on the 2700 block of Lincoln Way are proposing two options. Option A redevelops the properties at 2700, 2702 and 2718 Lincoln Way in the current zoning (Campustown Service Center), and requires no changes or council action. Option B proposes adding properties at 2728 Lincoln Way, 115 S Sheldon, and 112 and 114 S Hyland, and involves rezoning the area to a combination of CSC and high density residential (RH). The developers hope to build a 5-6 story building which would serve as a combination boutique hotel, commercial space, and residential apartments. (Approx. 168 units with a total of around 500 beds) To do so would require a LUPP (land use policy plan) amendment, zoning changes, zoning text amendments, and designation of an urban revitalization area (which includes tax abatement), development agreement, site development plan, and plat of survey. The Lincoln Way Corridor study is currently underway, and the site is the eastern edge of one of the focus areas of the study, but the developer is asking for an answer before that study concludes.



    Land use allows for A but developer wants B - according to the City Planner, pretty much as complicated as it gets.  The developer was on hand to present their plan to combine seven existing parcels at the corner of Lincoln Way and Sheldon for the construction of a high density, 5-7 story, student tailored apartment complex with adjacent "boutique" hotel. A plan that would require a LUPP Amendment, rezoning, zoning text amendment, designation of an Urban Revitalization Area (URA), a development agreement, a site development plan, and a plat of survey to combine parcels.  So complicated that Councilperson Gartin was concerned that this one project would consume all of Staff's time leaving other projects high and dry.

    The plan included a small amount of ground floor commercial, far less than what is there currently with Arcadia, Chinese Homestyle Cooking, etc. - far less than what the Campustown Service Center zoning is designed to achieve.  It is also squarely located on the edge of the area that has been prioritized in the Lincoln Way Corridor Study, but according the developer this site is unique and there is no need for the City to study it. They believe it should be removed from the study and not hold up development.  I disagree with this.  Why bother undertaking a study only to ignore it?  That just further perpetuates our problem of consistently having projects that are at odds with current land uses, goals, and expectations.  What if that study comes back and finds that the ideal Western entrance into Campustown is pedestrian scale, 2-3 story mixed-use buildings and not seven story high-density apartments with little to no ground floor commercial?

    As usual with these types of requests, the developer said moving quickly was imperative and if Council did not make decisions soon they would just have to move forward with the smaller project they have ready to go on the three properties that fall in the CSC zoning area.  However, when asked for details of this plan they were unable to produce a single drawing and seemed fuzzy on the number of beds, parking, and other details.

    In the end Council requested the developer come back with revised plans that address concerns raised during meeting.  The developer said they are willing and ready to work with the City to realize the large project.  I wonder if that is in a similar manner as a recent project they undertook in Lansing, MI.  Trowbridge Developer Threatens To Stop Project Unless Tax Incentives Increase

     

  • 52. Hearing on Major Land Use Policy Plan Amendment for 3115, 3409, and 3413 South Duff Avenue.
    A developer is proposing a major land use policy plan amendment in order to pursue a development on the 3100-3400 blocks of South Duff. The current LUPP designation for this area is highway oriented commercial (HOC). The developer would like to change the south and west portions of the 44 acre property to high-density residential, while maintaining the HOC zoning on the frontage north of the existing cemetery. The developer is proposing 700 apartment units. Residents in the spoke about concerns with traffic and storm water during input sessions in 2015 and 2016. At their May 4th meeting, Planning and Zoning voted 4-1 to recommend this major LUPP amendment. Staff recommend pursing contract rezoning if the project proceeds to address traffic and storm water issues.

    Here we go again, another major land usage change request, this time from Highway-Oriented Commercial (HOC) to Residential High-Density.  The appetite to build high-density apartments seems insatiable.  Many residents stuck out this long meeting for a chance to voice their concerns about traffic and storm water management that could be introduced by this project.  They reiterated over and over how bad traffic already is on South Duff and that this development will only exacerbate the problem.  Despite their efforts a motion approving the change passed 5-0.
  • 53. Hearing on Final Amendments to Fiscal Year 2015/16 Budget.

    Motion approving final amendments passed 5-0.

 

Thanks for reading!

Dan DeGeest>>

 

Boomtown - density in Campustown and on South Duff, growth to the north, old Middle School property

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen Photo

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen's Council Preview

 

 

The main Ames City Council begins at 6:00 PM.  See agenda for earlier items starting at 5:00 PM. The agenda include:

 

  • 14. Motion directing staff to enter into a Professional Services Contract for Sanitary Sewer Analysis for North Growth Gap Area.
    Sanitary Sewer Analysis for Northern Gap Area – Due to the potential for development to the north, Council directed staff to plan to evaluate sanitary sewer capacity in the area. Before committing $18K to the study, Council needs to discuss how far to the north we want to grow, and when.

     
  • 27. Resolution approving Iowa Economic Development Authority Contract for financial assistance for XPANXION, Inc., with local match.
    The Iowa Economic Development Authority has agreed to incentivize a software company, Xpanxion. These state monies require a local match, so the city is proposing an $18K forgivable loan. The city has an Economic Development Fund for this type of incentive.
  • 30. Resolution approving Joint Use Parking Agreement for 1320 Dickinson Avenue (Perfect Games) . Perfect Games is planning to add mini golf, and is requesting to use the currently existing parking, without having to build more. They argue that peak mini golf season occurs when student traffic in Ames is low, so the current parking lot should be sufficient. 
  • 44. Staff report regarding Welch Avenue Bicycle/Pedestrian Project.
    Welch Ave. Bike/Ped project: in 2014, Council directed staff to investigate a temporary pilot project which would eliminate east-side parking on Welch to create a protected area for gathering (eating, sitting, etc.) on the 100 and 200 blocks of Welch Ave. There are several methods to eliminate parking, ranging from changing the paint on the road to safer, more substantial barriers such as concrete planters. Options for Council to consider now include the following: which method to pursue for parking closure (paint or planters), additional street furniture to be installed, source of funding, and what information to collect during this trial project. 
  • 45. Resolution approving Preliminary Plat for Crane Farm Subdivision (896 South 500th Avenue) 
    Council approved rezoning of the property at 896 500th Ave., now the developer is back with a preliminary plat. Because the project is in an incentivized growth area, a development agreement is necessary before the final plat. (The developer’s agreement will outline which improvements will be the responsibility of the city because we incentivize growth in that area, and which will be the responsibility of the developer.)
  • 46. Resolution setting date of public hearing on granting Access Easement across City property (Welch Avenue Parking Lot X) to benefit 122 Hayward Avenue.
    The next Council meeting on June 14th would be the normal time to set this public hearing. The developer is asking Council to hold a special meeting on May 31st, in order for them to be able to keep to their development schedule.

     
  • 47. 321 State Avenue (Former Middle School) Options for Development Workshop.
    Options to develop 321 State Ave.: Council is being asked to decide if we want to consider only single-family detached housing, or if we want to consider a variety of ownership/rental types which aren’t currently permitted in RL zoning. Neighborhood input and support will be essential in order to consider alternatives to the single-family owner-occupied detached housing model.
  • 48. Resolution approving Preliminary Plat for 125 and 130 Wilder Avenue (Sunset Ridge Subdivision, 7th Addition).
    Council approved a Major Site Development Plan, but to proceed the developer still needs approval of a prelim and final plat.

     
  • 49. Staff Report on redevelopment of 2700 Block of Lincoln Way.
    Redevelopment of 2700 block of Lincoln Way: Developers of the property on the 2700 block of Lincoln Way are proposing two options. Option A redevelops the properties at 2700, 2702 and 2718 Lincoln Way in the current zoning (Campustown Service Center), and requires no changes or council action. Option B proposes adding properties at 2728 Lincoln Way, 115 S Sheldon, and 112 and 114 S Hyland, and involves rezoning the area to a combination of CSC and high density residential (RH). The developers hope to build a 5-6 story building which would serve as a combination boutique hotel, commercial space, and residential apartments. (Approx. 168 units with a total of around 500 beds) To do so would require a LUPP (land use policy plan) amendment, zoning changes, zoning text amendments, and designation of an urban revitalization area (which includes tax abatement), development agreement, site development plan, and plat of survey. The Lincoln Way Corridor study is currently underway, and the site is the eastern edge of one of the focus areas of the study, but the developer is asking for an answer before that study concludes. 
  • 52. Hearing on Major Land Use Policy Plan Amendment for 3115, 3409, and 3413 South Duff Avenue.

    A developer is proposing a major land use policy plan amendment in order to pursue a development on the 3100-3400 blocks of South Duff. The current LUPP designation for this area is highway oriented commercial (HOC). The developer would like to change the south and west portions of the 44 acre property to high-density residential, while maintaining the HOC zoning on the frontage north of the existing cemetery. The developer is proposing 700 apartment units. Residents in the spoke about concerns with traffic and storm water during input sessions in 2015 and 2016. At their May 4th meeting, Planning and Zoning voted 4-1 to recommend this major LUPP amendment. Staff recommend pursing contract rezoning if the project proceeds to address traffic and storm water issues.


     
  • 53. Hearing on Final Amendments to Fiscal Year 2015/16 Budget.
     

If you made it this far, congratulations! This is quite the agenda. Here's your reward. The inspiration for this week's Preview title, Boomtown, by Greg Brown.

 

Review - Naming of Parks and Recreation facilities

Dan DeGeest Photo

Dan DeGeest's Council Review

 

Greetings friends,

Last week I participated in and Inter-City trip to Manhattan, KS, with the Mayor, City Manager, several Council members, and twenty or so other Ames residents and business owners.  We traveled as a group by bus and spent two days talking with local officials, community members, and business owners about their efforts and strategies to make Manhattan vibrant and appealing.  We toured their revitalized downtown, their campus town area known as Aggieville, and Kansas State campus.

Overall, Manhattan resembles Ames in a remarkable number of ways.  One major thing I took away from the trip is that residents and community groups are driving the changes in Manhattan, not the City.  The City role is to assist them.  In Ames I still often get a sense that people are waiting around for the City to "do something".   As I have said before, this is our City, let’s make it great.

Another big difference I noted was just general layout and community planning.  In Manhattan they have figured out that retail, lodging, dining, and other things need to be physically close to each other.  We stayed at the Bluemont Hotel and were within easy walking distance of K-State, Aggieville, and Downtown – restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, bars, parks, and entertainment.  Contrast that with coming to Ames and staying at a hotel near the Research Park or out on HW30.  Where do you walk for food and fun?  Even if you are driving is it easy to figure out where to go and easy to get there?

Hopefully lessons learned will be applied here in Ames.

On to the Council Review – this week’s meeting was pleasantly short at just under 2 hours.  See below for comments.

The Ames City Council May 10, 2016.  The agenda included:

  • Consent Agenda 37. Resolution approving Plat of Survey for 122 Hayward Avenue

    There was plenty of discussion on this project at the last council meeting and it's impacts on the Council's goals for Lot X.  This was pulled and passed 5-0 with Council member Nelson abstaining due to a potential conflict of interest.  It is also important to note the I incorrectly stated that their easement and URA requests passed 6-0 at the last council meeting when in fact Council member Nelson also abstained on those votes because of potential conflict of interest.  My apologies to Mr. Nelson for incorrectly reporting the vote.

 

  • 40. Resolution approving policy for naming of Parks and Recreation facilities.
    This is back on the agenda after Council provided feedback on the draft policy in April. Changes included striking the waiting period (after death) for naming requests, and removing language about specific percentages of funding required for naming rights.

    There was lengthy discussion on this issue at the last council meeting and staff was back with the suggested changes.  The motion approving the policy passed 6-0.  This should give supporters of renaming the Ames Skate Park after Georgie Tsushima a clear path forward to get the park renamed.

 

 

 

  • 47. Report on 2015 Development Process User Survey.
    This survey was sent to 487 users who interacted w/ Inspections and Planning and Housing Departments. Of the 487 surveys sent, 96 were returned. Most responses rated city staff favorably, and favorability in most instances was greater than the survey 5 years prior.

    Passed 6-0

 

  • 48. First passage of ordinance adjusting Storm Water Rates
    ​The staff report states "The development of land in the City has resulted in an expanded amount of impervious surface which has increased the cost of both operations and capital for the Storm Water utility. The increased expenditures will help to reduce overland flooding and maintain compliance with storm water runoff regulations." In February, Council directed staff to prepare a storm water rate increase to compensate for these increased costs of development.

    Passed 6-0
  • Council Comments

    Councilperson Beatty-Hansen mentioned the value of coordinating transportation initiatives between the City and ISU, something she noted that seemed to be working better in Manhattan, KS.  The roads on and around ISU, known as institutional roads, are designed and maintained by ISU but create important and often exclusive routes through the community and improved coordination would make our overall transportation system better.  She successfully moved (6-0) to direct the City Manager to contact ISU officials and inquire about ISU adopting a complete streets policy that could work in conjunction with the one being worked on by the City.

Naming of Parks and Recreation facilities

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen Photo

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen's Council Preview

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

 

Review - City Council Goals, Water Wells, and Aspen Heights Master Plan

Dan DeGeest Photo

Dan DeGeest's Council Review

 

Hi Friends,

 

Another long (4.5 hours) and packed City Council meeting.  There was a full house again with 5 proclamations taking place before diving into the agenda.  No items were pulled from the Consent Agenda but it should be noted that the City did find some available funds to round out the funding for the Skate Park renovation and awarded the contract to the lone bidder as part of the Consent vote.  See highlights below and check out the video recording or minutes when they are published for further details on these and all agenda items.

 

Thanks for reading,

Dan DeGeest>>

 

The Ames City Council for 04/26/2016  The agenda included:
 

  • 38. Hearing on intent to construct New Well Field and authorizing acquisition of land via eminent domain, if necessary.
    Due to aging wells and increased demand for treated water, Ames is seeking to build a new well field to the east of Skunk River and north of River Valley Park. The city held meetings with landowners over whose properties the city would negotiate easements, and is hopeful these can be acquired voluntarily. In the case that easements can’t be achieved voluntarily, the city would need to pursue them through eminent domain if the project is to proceed.

    Despite the inclusion of the ominous words “eminent domain” in this agenda item, there was actually very little controversy or discussion.  The proposed well sites have been recommended by expert research and the proposed pipeline maximizes use of City owned property, offers the most direct route (the red line in the map), and is the lowest priced option.  It is not anticipated that there will be any major issues negotiating the land purchases to complete this project, which should address our water demands for another 10 years or so.  A motion to approve the resolution declaring the City Council’s intent to fund the final site-specific design and to acquire property and easements for construction passed 6-0.

  • 39.  Aspen Heights Major Site Development Plan for construction of a multi-family residential and limited retail development (Aspen Heights) at 205 South Wilmoth Avenue and  Motion granting pre-approval of tax abatement.
    Breckenridge is back with their Major Site Plan for Aspen Heights, the 422 bed development at the intersection of Wilmoth and Lincoln Way. The site plan conforms to the development agreement, and the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 7-0 to recommend accepting it, with conditions. Staff recommended 14 stipulations, including adding a turn lane from Franklin Ave, easements for a shared use path along Lincoln Way, adjustments to landscaping, parking, and fencing, among other things.

    A few neighbors and concerned citizens were on hand to voice some concerns over parking, traffic, garbage facilities, and a few other things.  But, like it or not, Breckenridge is adhering to the guidelines and stipulations laid out by the City in the site plan and Urban Revitalization agreements and the Staff recommendation was to approve the master site plan for the 422 bed development and pre-approval of the tax abatement.

    One item that did warrant some Council discussion was the lack of entry doors on any of the Lincoln Way facing commercial space.  Because parking is in the rear, behind the proposed building, the developer felt the back would be the preferred entrance façade but future front access could be possible.  Pedestrians on the Lincoln Way sidewalk would not have any visible entrance and be required to walk around the rear of the building.  The developer stated that many tenants, for example a restaurant, prefer a “front of house” for customer and a “back of house” for employee, deliveries, and other non-customer access and so-called through plans don’t work well.  I’m curious how this will work with the back of house facing Lincoln Way?  Will we see delivery trucks parked on the sidewalk as they unload and deliver items to the front, I mean back, of the building.  Is rear facing, parking lot focused commercial what we hope to achieve with our extensive Lincoln Way Corridor study where public input already identified improved walking and biking access as a top priority?

    Motions to approve all 3 items passed 6-0.

  • 40. Hearing on Voluntary Annexation of 5871 Ontario Street.
    The owner of the property at 5871 Ontario St. is seeking voluntary annexation into the city. The property is within the Northwest allowable growth area in the City’s Land Use Policy Plan (LUPP). Planning and Zoning voted to recommend approval.

    The annexation process in Ames now seems to consist of one question.  “Will these houses be in the Ames School District?”  If so, the process seems to move quickly with little discussion.  I don’t think it’s a bad thing to add new homes in our school district but annexation needs to consider many other things.  A few neighbors presented comments and concerns about this annexation.  The concerns were primarily around how the transition from low-density development to rural/acreage property would be handled, a common concern in these situations.  Another asked about the possibility of the rezoning allowing for some commercial but was told by Staff this was highly unlikely and residents would be serviced by existing commercial nodes that get farther and farther away from residents as we keep pushing outward.  A Motion Approving passed 6-0 and all parties were invited to stay engaged in the next steps and reminded that annexation is just the first of many steps to this property becoming the new Northwest boundary for Ames.

  • 41. Hearing on rezoning, with Master Plan, of property at 896 South 500th Avenue from Agricultural(A) to Suburban Residential Low Density (FS-RL) and Suburban Residential Medium Density(FS-RM) [Continued from April 12, 2016].
    This rezoning request was delayed at the last council meeting in order to study sanitary sewer capacity. If Council proceeds with item 37, which would upgrade the sanitary sewer trunk along Lincoln Way, then capacity will be sufficient, and staff recommends rezoning with 6 conditions.  P&Z concurs.

    With a Staff report back on sanitary sewer capacity and a motion approved to move forward on a $400,000 CIP project to fix one deficiency in the system between Hyland and Sheldon, Council was able to complete this hearing left open from the previous meeting.  Motion approving, motion waiving 2nd & 3rd  reading, and Motion to Approve on 3rd reading all pass 6-0 allow for this 22 acre residential project to move forward in the Ames School District.

  • 49. Staff Report and Update on Landscape Ordinance Provisions (Postponed from April 12, 2016).
    City Council directed staff to review landscaping requirements for apartments and parking lots, with a goal of increasing sustainability and biodiversity. Council is being asked for feedback on formatting of the ordinance, sustainability, and site inspection and maintenance.

    Staff gave an informative presentation that showed the shortfalls in our current Landscape Ordinance and examples of the types of outcomes it produces.  Based on the pictures shown, I don’t think anyone in the room would say we are getting well designed, sustainable, and visually appealing landscapes with our current ordinance.  Council directed Staff to investigate a point-based system that is weighted against a set of desired goals, such as sustainability, where projects would be approved when they achieved the required number of points giving flexibility in the actual implementation.  This would be a unique approach to Ames and could set a precedent for other cities to model if successful.
     
  • 51. Campustown Facade Grants.
    Two businesses have applied for Campustown façade grants this year, for a total of $32,500. One is the Cranford Bldg (home of Jeff’s Pizza and High Class Glass), and the second is Arcadia Café at their future home of 116 Welch Ave.  The Cranford Building received a grant last year for the Lincoln Way façade of their building, this year they are seeking one for the Stanton Ave edge of their building.

    Both grants were approved 6-0 allowing completion of the Cranford Building and the relocation of Arcadia Cafe to Welch Avenue.

 

  • 52. Resolution approving Preliminary Plat for Dotson Drive Subdivision (601 and 705 Dotson Drive and 4112 Cochrane Parkway) .
    Dotson Dr. preliminary plat – In 2015, the Ames School District traded some land near the current Middle School in exchange for land the school district could use for Facilities. The developer proposes single-family homes on the land by the Middle School. Planning and Zoning recommended approval of the Preliminary Plat 7-0.

    Motion approving passes 6-0

  • 53. 122 Hayward Avenue.  Staff Report on request for permanent access easement through City Parking Lot X to facilitate redevelopment of 122 Hayward.

    Dean Jensen is working on a project to convert some properties on Hayward to student housing units totaling 145 beds. They need to secure an easement which would grant permanent access through the parking lot to the east onto Welch Ave. At the same time, the City Council has established a goal to  "Explore public/private improvements (e.g. entertainment, parking, housing, amenities) for public/private space in Campustown and Downtown." Thus, traffic from the Jensen development could potentially be in conflict w/ goals for that area. Council can choose to grant the easement, or initiate a study of the area, if we believe that we may want to use that parking lot for any type of public space.

    The City Council voted 6-0 to move forward with the creation and approval of a perpetual easement providing access to the parking structure of this new development.   Unfortunately this really undercuts any potential for redeveloping this interior space as a pedestrian gathering space or other creative, people focused usage.  It’s a good example of our goals and policies working against each other with the goal of first floor commercial pushing the parking entrance to the rear of the building, which in turn conflicts with the goal of turning that space into some sort of community gathering space.  Future uses of Lot X will be very challenging and once again designing for parking and the automobile gets higher priority then people focused design.

    Perhaps more disappointing to me though was the Council’s 6-0 vote to approve tax abatement for RES Development despite not meeting the natural light requirements.  With this approval in place they will be able to build nearly 50 bedrooms in this 145-bedroom building with no exterior window or natural light.  I find this really appalling and upset that our tax dollars are subsidizing this sort of design.  URA requirements are there for a reason; consistently waiving them makes them ineffective.  Haggling over some brick or setbacks is one thing, but can you imagine living everyday in a room with no access to natural light, no view of the world around you, never waking up to a sunrise.  Even the cheapest of roach hotels I’ve stayed in near an airport have a window.  How many dorms on the ISU campus offer no window and daylight?  I don’t think having glazing that goes beyond the standards in other living areas makes up for this, I would have voted NO on this and was surprised no Council members objected to this request.

     

  • 54. Guidelines and criteria for implementation of Public Facilities Improvements Program for Non-Profit Organizations.
    As part of the 2015/2016 action plan for CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funding, $100K was set aside for a “Public Facilities Improvement Program”.  This money would go to non-profits who serve low/moderate income families, to assist in improvements to mechanical, plumbing, electrical, and structural components of their facilities.

    Motion approving passes 6-0

 

  • 55. Motion adopting City Council Goals to be completed by December 31, 2017.

    City Council Goals – In early 2016, Council held two goal-setting meetings, and came up with the following list of goals. Each goal has corresponding objectives and tasks, where individual action items aimed at each goal are expounded upon.

    Strengthen Downtown and Campustown

    Promote Economic Development

    Expand Sustainability Efforts

    Address Housing Needs

    Promote a Sense of One Community

    Strengthen Human Services

    Encourage Healthy Lifestyles

    In my opinion, Council already undermined one of its stated goals, namely, “Strengthen Downtown and Campustown, Task #3, Work with CAA, business, and property owners to help determine what type of use can be made of the interior parking lot between Welch Avenue and Hayward Avenue” by approving to move forward with a perpetual easement for access across this City owned lot for the parking structure in the new mixed-use building that will be built at 122 Hayward by RES Development.  Approval of this easement will require the City to always provide in and out access to the parking structure and makes this space increasingly hard to use for any other purpose, particularly a pedestrian focused gathering space.  With the Welch Ave access the only option for cars to enter to reach 122 Hayward it also effectively limits any creative reconfiguration of Welch.  Finally, it adds a lot more car/pedestrian interaction to an already busy automobile access that crosses the sidewalk.  Did this choice really meet the goal?  Regardless, motion adopting the City Council goals passed 6-0.

 

City Council Goals, Water Wells, and Aspen Heights Master Plan

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen Photo

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen's Council Preview

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

  • 38. Hearing on intent to construct New Well Field and authorizing acquisition of land via eminent domain, if necessary.
    Due to aging wells and increased demand for treated water, Ames is seeking to build a new well field to the east of Skunk River and north of River Valley Park. The city held meetings with landowners over whose properties the city would negotiate easements, and is hopeful these can be acquired voluntarily. In the case that easements can’t be achieved voluntarily, the city would need to pursue them through eminent domain if the project is to proceed.

  •  
  • 39.  Aspen Heights Major Site Development Plan for construction of a multi-family residential and limited retail development (Aspen Heights) at 205 South Wilmoth Avenue and  Motion granting pre-approval of tax abatement.
    Breckenridge is back with their Major Site Plan for Aspen Heights, the 422 bed development at the intersection of Wilmoth and Lincoln Way. The site plan conforms to the development agreement, and the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 7-0 to recommend accepting it, with conditions. Staff recommended 14 stipulations, including adding a turn lane from Franklin Ave, easements for a shared use path along Lincoln Way, adjustments to landscaping, parking, and fencing, among other things. 

  • 40. Hearing on Voluntary Annexation of 5871 Ontario Street.
    The owner of the property at 5871 Ontario St. is seeking voluntary annexation into the city. The property is within the Northwest allowable growth area in the City’s Land Use Policy Plan (LUPP). Planning and Zoning voted to recommend approval. 

  • 41. Hearing on rezoning, with Master Plan, of property at 896 South 500th Avenue from Agricultural(A) to Suburban Residential Low Density (FS-RL) and Suburban Residential Medium Density(FS-RM) [Continued from April 12, 2016].
    This rezoning request was delayed at the last council meeting in order to study sanitary sewer capacity. If Council proceeds with item 37, which would upgrade the sanitary sewer trunk along Lincoln Way, then capacity will be sufficient, and staff recommends rezoning with 6 conditions.  P&Z concurs.

  • 49. Staff Report and Update on Landscape Ordinance Provisions (Postponed from April 12, 2016).
    City Council directed staff to review landscaping requirements for apartments and parking lots, with a goal of increasing sustainability and biodiversity. Council is being asked for feedback on formatting of the ordinance, sustainability, and site inspection and maintenance.
  • 51. Campustown Facade Grants.
    Two businesses have applied for Campustown façade grants this year, for a total of $32,500. One is the Cranford Bldg (home of Jeff’s Pizza and High Class Glass), and the second is Arcadia Café at their future home of 116 Welch Ave.  The Cranford Building received a grant last year for the Lincoln Way façade of their building, this year they are seeking one for the Stanton Ave edge of their building. 
  • 52. Resolution approving Preliminary Plat for Dotson Drive Subdivision (601 and 705 Dotson Drive and 4112 Cochrane Parkway) .
    Dotson Dr. preliminary plat – In 2015, the Ames School District traded some land near the current Middle School in exchange for land the school district could use for Facilities. The developer proposes single-family homes on the land by the Middle School. Planning and Zoning recommended approval of the Preliminary Plat 7-0.

  • 53. 122 Hayward Avenue.  Staff Report on request for permanent access easement through City Parking Lot X to facilitate redevelopment of 122 Hayward.

    Dean Jensen is working on a project to convert some properties on Hayward to student housing units totaling 145 beds. They need to secure an easement which would grant permanent access through the parking lot to the east onto Welch Ave. At the same time, the City Council has established a goal to  "Explore public/private improvements (e.g. entertainment, parking, housing, amenities) for public/private space in Campustown and Downtown." Thus, traffic from the Jensen development could potentially be in conflict w/ goals for that area. Council can choose to grant the easement, or initiate a study of the area, if we believe that we may want to use that parking lot for any type of public space.

  • 54. Guidelines and criteria for implementation of Public Facilities Improvements Program for Non-Profit Organizations.
    As part of the 2015/2016 action plan for CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funding, $100K was set aside for a “Public Facilities Improvement Program”.  This money would go to non-profits who serve low/moderate income families, to assist in improvements to mechanical, plumbing, electrical, and structural components of their facilities. 
  • 55. Motion adopting City Council Goals to be completed by December 31, 2017.

    City Council Goals – In early 2016, Council held two goal-setting meetings, and came up with the following list of goals. Each goal has corresponding objectives and tasks, where individual action items aimed at each goal are expounded upon.

    Strengthen Downtown and Campustown

    Promote Economic Development

    Expand Sustainability Efforts

    Address Housing Needs

    Promote a Sense of One Community

    Strengthen Human Services

    Encourage Healthy Lifestyles

 

Review - Lincoln Way Corridor Draft Plan

Dan DeGeest Photo

Dan DeGeest's Council Review

 

Hi Friends,

The presentation Tuesday night was very informative and pretty well attended.  A good portion of the material covered "existing conditions" and it was no surprise to me to hear most of the challenges and opportunities identified by the consultants.  It was clear to me that they have spent considerable time in the field and are not just looking at maps in their Chicago office - that was encouraging.  They identified several key issues to address in the study with multi-modal improvements and pedestrian safety being common themes from all public input.  They recommended narrowing down the study areas to the 5 unique districts/zones detailed below.  They believe that intensive study of these five areas will allow them to focus on the key issues and then apply those findings to create corridor-wide land use, transportation/mobility, and character/urban design plans.  There was some discussion/questions from City Council, members of the Planning and Zoning Commission, and several from the public.  In the end, the biggest discussion was around modifying the size of the "Downtown Gateway" area to include Clark Street whereas the consultants had suggested using Kellogg as the Western boundary.  In the end a motion from Gartin, to accept the report, with the modified Downtown Gateway boundary, was passed 6-0 allowing the project to move forward.

 

There will be more opportunities for public input in upcoming months and I will send out reminders when those are scheduled.  Please get and stay engaged in this process, it's our City, our voices and opinions matter.

 

Thanks for reading,

Dan DeGeest>>

 

The Ames City Council April 19, 2016.  The agenda included:

1. Joint Meeting with Planning and Zoning Commission with Presentation by consultants of Lincoln Way Corridor Draft Plan and direct consultants to proceed on studying focus areas.

The consultants Houseal and Lavigne are presenting a draft plan that highlights five sub-areas along Lincoln Way, and includes current characteristics and concern areas for each district. The proposed focus areas include:

  • Downtown Gateway
  • Lincoln and Grand
  • Oak to Riverside
  • Campustown Transition (West of Campus)
  • West HyVee Retail Area


The consultants will consider the following elements for improvements in each of the areas: traffic flow, appearance/landscaping, signage, residential housing density, land-use (whether residential, commercial, mixed, etc.)

 

If you are able, consider attending or tuning into tonight's workshop! Lincoln Way is a vital corridor to Ames, and public input in this process is hugely important.


 

Review - Rose Prairie Development Agreement, Park Naming Policy

Dan DeGeest Photo

Dan DeGeest's Council Review

 

Hi all,

 

Another 5 hour City Council meeting with a packed agenda.  There was also a packed house and it was one of those fairly rare occasions when the overflow room was opened up to accommodate the audience.  Please read below for some highlights.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Dan DeGeest>>

 

The Ames City Council for April 12, 2016.  The agenda included:

  • 40. Park Naming Policy
    The Parks and Rec Commission heard a request in summer of 2015 to name the Skate Park after Georgie Tsushima, a young skateboard advocate who passed away in the summer of 2015, but Parks and Rec delayed ruling on that request in order to draft a naming policy. (Which they were previously lacking.) The proposed policy includes guidelines for naming parks and facilities after individuals who have made monetary or non-monetary contributions to the community. The policy also includes a 3-year waiting period after someone passes away before a naming request could be approved.

    As a long time advocate for bicycling in Ames, I know all too well the feeling of discouragement after putting blood, sweat, and tears into an idea only to hear "I'm sorry we don't have a policy for that".  I'm sure there were many supporters of Georgie Tsushima in the audience Tuesday night that were feeling that exact same way with the process to rename the local skate park in his honor.  Tuesday's discussion regarding a park naming policy was extensive, lasting nearly 2 hours, with many statements of support for Georgie including heartfelt comments from his mother. But, it also resulted in Council direction that should ultimately produce the desired outcome of the original request, specifically, the removal of the three-year waiting period for naming a park after a deceased individual.  This clause was found to be "arbitrary" and potentially "unfair" without similar requirements for land donation or other monetary based name change requests.  A motion to send this policy back for this revision passed 5-1 (Gartin voting "NO").  For more information see this excellent article at the Iowa Informer. To Georgie's supporters I encourage  you to stay engaged in the next steps and have patience with the process - don't give up.

 

  • 42., 43., 44. Zoning text amendments, zoning map amendments, and municipal code Chap 9 relating to development in the Floodway
    In November of 2015, and then again on March 22nd of 2016, Council directed staff to draft text amendments to the Environmentally Sensitive Area Overlay (O-E zoning) which would add Council approval of a Major Site Plan to the requirements for developing in such areas. This would allow another layer of oversight to developments in floodways in Ames, notably environmentally sensitive areas. Agenda items 42, 43, and 44 all related to these changes.

    This topic was discussed in length at a previous City Council meeting and staff was back with the requested changes.  All three items were moved for approval and each passed 5-1 with Nelson the only "NO" vote in each instance.

  • 46. Hearing on Skate Park Renovation Project.
    The Skate Park is in need of repairs and improvements, and has been on the CIP schedule since ‘13/’14, with $105K currently budgeted for these upgrades. One bid was received on the project (out of 9 solicited), well over the budgeted amount, at $149K. Staff recommend waiting until they determine if re-bidding the project might work.

    There was plenty of discussion about naming the Skate Park but it also happens that it is in need of a fair amount of repairs and some money has also been set aside for additions and improvements.  Unfortunately, only 1 of the 9 firms contacted to submit bids responded and that bid was well over the budget.  A motion accepting the report of bids was passed but no contract awarded.  This will give staff time to go back and find additional funds and/or alter the scope of the project to meet the budget.  I sincerely hope they find a way to fully fund the work and that the renovated park grand reopening and Georgie Tsushima dedication could be coordinated.

  • 47. Hearing on 2015/16 Airport Improvements Taxiway Rehabilitation (Runway 01/19).
    Bids for the rehab of the taxiway came in over the engineers estimate ($243K instead of $185K). Staff is recommending accepting only the base bid ($195K), and rejecting the bid alternates, which included special materials.

    Keeping with the trend, here is another project with all bids coming in over budget.  As a result Council voted to remove two additional components of the project that would have extended the lifespan of the new runway section and accepted the lowest base bid for completing the concrete work. 

  • 48. Hearing on rezoning, with Master Plan, of property at 896 South 500th Avenue from Agricultural (A) to Suburban Residential Low Density (FS-RL) and Suburban Residential Medium Density (FS-RM).
    This agenda item involves rezoning property to the southwest of Ames, which was recently annexed. The property is currently zoned Agricultural, but is seeking low and medium density residential zoning. Staff is recommending holding the public hearing, but holding off on rezoning until the capacity of sanitary sewer in the area can be evaluated.

    There were some concerns from a few council members about delaying or slowing down this development but ultimately the case was made that it was crucial to have the data about the sanitary sewer capacity before moving forward.  Therefore the hearing was left open and will be back on the Council agenda in two weeks.
     

 

  • 50. Resolution approving Rose Prairie Development Agreement.

    Due to a lawsuit many years ago, the property in question is governed by a development agreement, and the area is designated as a conservation subdivision. The current owners are presenting 7 suggestions to alter this development agreement.

    1. Rezone from RL (residential low-density) to RL, RM, or PRD (planned residential development). This would mean an increase from 292 units to a  range from 397 to 739 units!
    2. Extend the time requirement for installing water and sanitary sewer due to delays in construction commencement.
    3. The development agreement includes a provision requiring the developer to pay for sanitary sewer to the boundaries of their property sufficient to accommodate future growth beyond their boundaries. Rose Prairie is proposing an 8” sanitary sewer line to the border of their property. City staff reports being unable to verify whether this is sufficient to accommodate future growth.
    4. Originally, the developer was responsible for a shared-use path along the railroad. Due to other changes to the shared-use path system, the required path will now run along Grant Ave.
    5. The original agreement mandated sprinkler systems be installed in residential units because emergency services didn’t extend to that area. The area is now served by emergency services, and other developments in the area have been released from this requirement, so staff support waiving the sprinkler system requirement.
    6. Rose Prairie is proposing that the City purchase and maintain the park which is required in the development agreement.
    7. Rose Prairie proposes that if they sell any outlots to another developer, any costs or other requirements of the development agreement transfer to the new owner (instead of becoming due when the first subdivision occurs).

    There were several concerns voiced about the density of this project but in reality the developer will be subject to the same storm water mitigation standards specified in the conservation zoning regardless if there are 200 or 700 units.  The higher density has already been approved on adjacent projects that have newer development agreements and actually makes it more cost effective to extend city services.  At this stage there is no master plan and there will be many more steps and reviews before a final design and plan are approved.  With the assurance that storm water can and will be mitigated and confidence from staff that the other requests from the developer could be negotiated, Council approved the motion to allow staff to move forward.

  • 51. Staff Report and Update on Landscape Ordinance Provisions.
    City Council directed staff to review landscaping requirements for apartments and parking lots, with a goal of increasing sustainability and biodiversity. Council is being asked for feedback on formatting of the ordinance, sustainability, and site inspection and maintenance.

    Postponed

 

Rose Prairie Development Agreement, Park Naming Policy

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen Photo

Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen's Council Preview

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

  • 40. Park Naming Policy
    The Parks and Rec Commission heard a request in summer of 2015 to name the Skate Park after Georgie Tsushima, a young skateboard advocate who passed away in the summer of 2015, but Parks and Rec delayed ruling on that request in order to draft a naming policy. (Which they were previously lacking.) The proposed policy includes guidelines for naming parks and facilities after individuals who have made monetary or non-monetary contributions to the community. The policy also includes a 3-year waiting period after someone passes away before a naming request could be approved.

  • 42., 43., 44. Zoning text amendments, zoning map amendments, and municipal code Chap 9 relating to development in the Floodway
    In November of 2015, and then again on March 22nd of 2016, Council directed staff to draft text amendments to the Environmentally Sensitive Area Overlay (O-E zoning) which would add Council approval of a Major Site Plan to the requirements for developing in such areas. This would allow another layer of oversight to developments in floodways in Ames, notably environmentally sensitive areas. Agenda items 42, 43, and 44 all related to these changes.

  • 46. Hearing on Skate Park Renovation Project.
    The Skate Park is in need of repairs and improvements, and has been on the CIP schedule since ‘13/’14, with $105K currently budgeted for these upgrades. One bid was received on the project (out of 9 solicited), well over the budgeted amount, at $149K. Staff recommend waiting until they determine if re-bidding the project might work.

  • 47. Hearing on 2015/16 Airport Improvements Taxiway Rehabilitation (Runway 01/19).
    Bids for the rehab of the taxiway came in over the engineers estimate ($243K instead of $185K). Staff is recommending accepting only the base bid ($195K), and rejecting the bid alternates, which included special materials.

  • 48. Hearing on rezoning, with Master Plan, of property at 896 South 500th Avenue from Agricultural (A) to Suburban Residential Low Density (FS-RL) and Suburban Residential Medium Density (FS-RM).
    This agenda item involves rezoning property to the southwest of Ames, which was recently annexed. The property is currently zoned Agricultural, but is seeking low and medium density residential zoning. Staff is recommending holding the public hearing, but holding off on rezoning until the capacity of sanitary sewer in the area can be evaluated.

  • 49. Staff Update on South Duff Avenue Land Use Policy Plan (LUPP) request [3115, 3413, and 3409 South Duff Avenue] .
    This agenda item requires no Council action, it is a staff update on the LUPP Amendment request to rezone most of the property at 3115, 3413, and 3409 S Duff as Residential High Density (RH).  Next steps would include public hearings for the Planning and Zoning commission on May 4th, and a potential public hearing for City Council on May 24th.

  • 50. Resolution approving Rose Prairie Development Agreement.

    Due to a lawsuit many years ago, the property in question is governed by a development agreement, and the area is designated as a conservation subdivision. The current owners are presenting 7 suggestions to alter this development agreement.

    1. Rezone from RL (residential low-density) to RL, RM, or PRD (planned residential development). This would mean an increase from 292 units to a  range from 397 to 739 units!
    2. Extend the time requirement for installing water and sanitary sewer due to delays in construction commencement.
    3. The development agreement includes a provision requiring the developer to pay for sanitary sewer to the boundaries of their property sufficient to accommodate future growth beyond their boundaries. Rose Prairie is proposing an 8” sanitary sewer line to the border of their property. City staff reports being unable to verify whether this is sufficient to accommodate future growth.
    4. Originally, the developer was responsible for a shared-use path along the railroad. Due to other changes to the shared-use path system, the required path will now run along Grant Ave.
    5. The original agreement mandated sprinkler systems be installed in residential units because emergency services didn’t extend to that area. The area is now served by emergency services, and other developments in the area have been released from this requirement, so staff support waiving the sprinkler system requirement.
    6. Rose Prairie is proposing that the City purchase and maintain the park which is required in the development agreement.
    7. Rose Prairie proposes that if they sell any outlots to another developer, any costs or other requirements of the development agreement transfer to the new owner (instead of becoming due when the first subdivision occurs).

  • 51. Staff Report and Update on Landscape Ordinance Provisions.
    City Council directed staff to review landscaping requirements for apartments and parking lots, with a goal of increasing sustainability and biodiversity. Council is being asked for feedback on formatting of the ordinance, sustainability, and site inspection and maintenance.

  • 52. Resolution approving Grant Agreement with Iowa Department of Natural Resources for improvements to low-head dam in North River Valley Park in the amount of $85,00.
    Council directed staff to design and submit a proposal to the DNR to replace the roller head dam in North River Valley Park with a system of rock arch rapids. The proposal has been accepted by the DNR, and the project can move forward

  • 60. Motion to hold closed session as provided by Section 21.5c, Code of Iowa, to discuss strategy with counsel for matters in litigation.

Review - Urban Fringe Map, Floodway Development Restrictions, and Campus Community Commission

Dan DeGeest Photo

Dan DeGeest's Council Review

 

Hello friends,

 

I hope everyone enjoyed their spring break.  City Council did not meet for two weeks and the agenda for March 22 was packed full of items - the meeting lasted around 4 hours.  Please see below for a recap of some of the bigger items.

 

Review of Ames City Council Meeting for March 22, 2016.

The agenda included:

  • 37. Resolution approving/motion denying Ames Urban Fringe Plan Map Amendment for East Industrial Area
    Council has approved installing sewer and water east to 590th St. to create the East Industrial Area. To do so requires annexation, but first a change in the Urban Fringe Map (Part of the Land Use Policy Plan). In addition to the area immediately affected (marked as "planned industrial" on this map), staff is proposing land to the north and south be designated as "industrial reserve". The "industrial reserve" areas would be for long-term future uses, and may not be utilized for 30+ years. They would need to be re-classified as "planned industrial" before the city could annex and use those areas. There are several significant issues with this East Industrial area. Installing the infrastructure is a big investment, but as a city we want to make sure we fill the area with the right type of businesses. Once we invest in the area, pressure will build to fill the space, but we should only do so with industry which will be good for Ames in the long run. 


    This issue continues to be controversial.  Both the Story County Planning and Zoning Commission and the Ames Planning and Zoning Commission voted to deny the change.  A handful of neighbors and residents of the proposed area spoke during public comment and not a single one spoke in favor of the proposed Fringe Plan Amendment.  The only comments supporting the changes were presented by Dan Culhane and Mike Espeset both representing the Ames Economic Development Commission.  Clearly, there is a difference in opinions on how this land should be designated in the Fringe Plan and the City Council has the unenviable job of deciding the way forward.  The main arguments in favor are job creation, revenue generation, and the need for available parcels, not the promise of future ones, in order to recruit companies to invest and build.  The main arguments against are lack of public input, cost, the size of the proposed area, and uncertainty about the type & quality of developments that will be built and the impacts they will have on existing homes and the environment.  After lengthy debate and many heartfelt pleas to vote it down, a motion was made by Gartin (second by Orazem) to approve the Fringe Plan amendment.  The motion passed 5-1 with Beatty-Hansen the only NO.  It is important to note that this is just the first in a number of steps toward final development of this land and I encourage all concerned parties to stay engaged in the process.  The Story County Board of Supervisors will review and vote on it next week.

 

  • 38. Walmart at Grand Avenue and 30th Street (Joint Use Parking Agreement with North Grand Mall).
    Walmart is proposing a plat of survey to combine two lots, totaling 14+ acres. (One is the current Walmart lot, the second is the old Cub Foods/Dahls lot.) According to city code, Walmart is required to complete a sidewalk along Wheeler Street before the plat of survey. They are requesting a deferral on sidewalk improvements until site redevelopment and will give a security deposit in the amount of the needed improvements. Walmart will also reach an agreement with North Grand Mall regarding parking while their site is under construction.

    While seemingly a minor procedural detail around a small section of sidewalk and a parking agreement, it should be noted that approving this plat of survey opened the door for Walmart to tear down the two large, relatively new, existing buildings (the old Dahls and the current Walmart) to build one Super Walmart on the combined parcel.  The new structure will face South, not East toward Grand Avenue, to accommodate the parking lot.  Motion approving all 3 items passed 6-0.

 

  • 39. Update on Flood Plain and Environmentally Sensitive Overlay and Map Amendments.
    In November 2015, Council directed staff to prepare a map, designating floodways with an “Environmentally Sensitive Overlay” (O-E) and require major site development plan oversight. The Planning and Zoning Commission heard input on this and recommended (5-0) against the requirement for an additional layer of major site development plan approval. P&Z did recommend (3-2-1) the change to O-E, but without language about the site plan, this yields inconsistent policies. Council will have to decide whether to move forward with their original recommendation to staff, address only the parking issue related to floodway development, or abandon changes.

    Staff presented three options to oversee development in the floodway. 1. Require major site plan approval by Council for developments in the floodway 2. Address only parking being built in the floodway 3. No changes to current development policy in the floodway.  Council directed staff in 2015 to pursue Option 1, however Councilperson Orazem moved Option 2, seconded by Beatty-Hansen, which failed 2-4.  Option 3 was then moved by Nelson, seconded by Gartin, and failed 3-3.  Option 1 was then moved and passed 4-2. (Beatty-Hansen, Betcher, Corrieri, and Orazem voted AYE, Gartin and Nelson voted NO).  If that sounds confusing, don’t feel bad because it was confusing.  Option 1 will allow for project-by-project review of development in the floodway, which will help ensure the stewardship of these areas.

 

  • 40. Lincoln Way Pedestrian Crossing Data Collection and Analysis (University Boulevard to Sheldon Avenue).
    In light of increased enrollment, traffic, and the tragic pedestrian death near campus recently, the City and ISU and embarking on a joint study of traffic safety along Lincoln Way. This will be a separate study from the "Lincoln Way Corridor Study", allowing those consultants to focus more on topics like planning and land use. The safety study will involve recording and counting traffic (pedestrians, bicycles, cars, & other vehicles) at intersections from University Blvd to Sheldon Ave. 

    A motion approving scope of work and to pay 50% of the joint study passed 6-0.  The  City of Ames will work with ISU and it's consultants to complete this study in the near term and begin working on potential solutions.  It will be important that this data and work is funneled into the Lincoln Way Corridor study which will be looking at these same segments of the corridor based on other criteria at the same time.  Subsequently, these studies will most likely impact the Long Range Transportation Plan and other planning and budgeting work so it will be important to continue tracking the progress and outcome of this study.

 

  • 41. Staff report on Campus Community Commission.
    There has been renewed interest in forming a group or commission of citizens and students to weigh in on issues in the campus and Campustown areas. The now-defunct Student Affairs Commission was formed in 2008 to meet this need, but had stringent membership requirements. Several methods to proceed with a new avenue for gathering citizen and student input have been proposed including a 28E (intergovernmental) agreement between ISU and Ames to create topic-specific task forces, or the creation of a Campus Community Commission. 

    After a fairly long discussion on this item it became clear it was not defined enough yet for a clear path forward.  A motion was made to postpone this item to allow further conversations to take place with the incoming Student Government and other partners.  Motion passed 6-0.

 

  • 44. Hearing on Urban Revitalization Plan for 3505 and 3515 Lincoln Way.
    In 2015, Council directed staff to create an Urban Revitalization Plan for these two properties (currently under construction) at 3505 and 3515 Lincoln Way. The plan requires conforming to the Major Site Development Plan (approved by Council in September 2015) and requires participation in the Crime Free Housing Program in order to achieve tax abatement. 

    With little discussion a motion approving this Urban Revitalization Plan passed 6-0.  An important distinction to note is that this URA is approved on these specific projects only and not for a geographic area as has been done in other places such as Campustown.  What that means is that the abatement is being granted based on the submitted site plan, not on Council approved criteria.  Therefore, as long as the finished project substantially matches the site plan the abatement will be granted.

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