Parking Review and Fireworks Law

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Bronwyn's Council Preview

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

Council Considers Front-yard Parking

The Ames City Council begins at 7:00 PM  December 9th.  The agenda includes:

  • Item 6 -- Requests for Ames 150 Sesquicentennial Platting Day in Downtown Ames, December 17.This is the final event in the Ames 150 Celebration: Happy Birthday to You Ames, you are looking so spry!

  • Item 11 -- Hearing on Zoning Ordinance text amendment to Section 29.401(4)(b) to increase allowable height for certain architectural features in all zoning districts. We have been receiving many emails and letters on this issue. The staff recommends for the zoning change, to allow for taller architectural elements in residential areas but the Planning & Zoning Commission recommended against the amendment due to the amendments not coming from a change in community perspective, but rather one property owners unwillingness to design a project which meets existing city codes.

  • Item 12 -- Hearing on Zoning Ordinance text amendment to Section 29.406(7) to include an allowance for front-yard parking in limited circumstances. This is a very similar story to that above. Another developer desires a certain layout of parking, and rather than adjusting their project to meet code, they are asking to change city code. These kinds of requests utilize a lot of City of Ames staff time.

  • Item 23 -- Resolution approving Final Plat for Prairie Village Subdivision (1204 South 4th Street adjacent to Riverside Manor). While the use is allowed, there are risks with regards to altering flood patterns in the neighborhood. Any change made to the current plat that could yield a new risk to nearby neighborhoods should be taken extremely seriously.


  • Item 24 -- Follow-up report on HIRTA Demand Response Facilitation discussions Open Meetings request. The City of Ames unanimously recommended that these discussions be open to the public, while the facilitator in the process preferred a closed setting to enhance the forthrightness of the conversations. Not surprisingly, the Story County Board of Supervisors preferred less transparency in these discussions and are unwilling to open them to the public. 

  • Item 26 -- Progress report from Sustainability Coordinator regarding July - December 2014 activities. This cooperative effort is a valuable one, let's see what progress we have been making at leveraging resources in more efficient and sustainable ways.

  • Item 27 -- Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). The response plan removing Ash trees in Ames, if approved, will begin immediately.

  • Item 28 -- Resolution approving Federal Airport Improvement Program. The City of Ames municipal airport serves many different clients. Conversations with Iowa State University show that they view its operations as an important part of the economic development resources for the ISU Research Park. As such, the City of Ames may need to consider the airport in the context, not only of hobbyist pilots, but also as an economic development asset. However, as we are not made of money, we may need to pull back on other economic development investments. As of late, The City of Ames has been on an economic development/corporate welfare roll: $1,000,000 plus for Deery Bros., over $2,000,000 for Kingland Systems, around $1,000,000 for the South Bell TIF park, and millions and millions committed to the ISU research park. The council might benefit from considering how never-ending incentives can be less money for the amenities that its residents desire. Improving the airport may be a good economic development investment and, with the right contributions by Iowa State University, could even fund itself through increased fuel and lease revenues, but the quality of life of Ames residents is our charge, and all choices should be considered in this context because most of us don't fly planes.

  • Item 29 -- Judicial Determination of Preemption of Lap Dance Ordinance. This one will be an interesting one. We haven't seen a meeting like this since Dangerous Curves was allowed to enter the Campustown market in 2005. It closed quickly thereafter. Here is a quote from that meeting from my 33-year old self: “Council Member Goodman pointed out that there are many bars in the area of Campustown where dancing that might be construed as erotic or sensual, although not paid for...occur.” 

    Probably still true...but now, I go to bed too early to know.


City Council Budget Guidelines

The Ames City Council begins at 7:00 PM  November 25th.  The agenda includes:

  • Item 28 -- Hearing on rezoning properties for ISU Research Park Phase III Project from Agricultural (A) to Planned Industrial (PI). The research park expansion will increase available land for businesses who could benefit from the park amenities.

  • Item 29 -- Hearing on Zoning Ordinance Text Amendments to Reduce On-Site Parking Required for Fraternities and Sorority Housing and make text clarifications. The council communicated previously they were comfortable with the 3 bedroom per parking space limit. The current parking regulations will remain in place protecting the adjacent neighborhood from becoming parking lots.

  • Item 38 -- City Council budget guidelines. One issue of note is the transition to residents paying higher property taxes while commercial and industrial users will be paying less, due to the bipartisan property tax reform this year. Another concern is the $3.3 million Airport Hangar and Terminal. While the hangar serves as a gateway to investors, such a large cost for an asset that many citizens will never use is concerning. More concerning is that the initial split of the project was to be 1/3 Iowa State University, 1/3 Private Sector Businesses and 1/3 City of Ames funding. However the budget letter reads, "It appears it may be difficult for the private sector and the University to contribute $866,000 each to the City in cash." City staff continues to work on funding strategies, but for an asset used by so few, perhaps a more conservative tack would be a more reasonable approach.