Bronwyn’s Council Preview, July 11, 2017: State Avenue Affordable Housing

Also on the agenda: Parking enforcement changes in Campustown and a continued discussion of protections for undocumented immigrants

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The Ames City Council meeting starts at 6 p.m. The agenda includes:

Item 26: Staff report on 321 State Ave. (old middle school affordable housing)

At the June 13 meeting, the council got a staff report regarding the potential development at 321 State Ave., which included a discussion of how to make the project financially viable, either by cutting costs or providing more incentives. Staff and the developer were directed to come back with a plan for reduced costs. This revised plan includes fewer units to the north, and no alleys, cutting costs significantly, but may still require additional city investment. The new plan is two-phase, with 18 low- and moderate-income affordable units in the first phase, and two additional affordable units in phase two. This does move the percentage of LMI units down to 54 percent from the original mandate of 60 percent. For an additional investment from the city, the developer could squeeze in another six affordable homes, bringing the percentage up to 60.

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Item 27: Staff report on enhanced parking enforcement in Campustown neighborhoods

This is in response to a request for the cost of additional parking enforcement in the area spanning from Beach on the east to State on the west, and from Lincoln Way to Storm, north to south. The staff report estimates $60,000 in additional costs to patrol those areas with four and six hour limits and alternate side parking overnight. (That $60,000 cost already considers increased revenue from tickets.)

Item 28: Hearing on zoning text amendment pertaining to new commercial parking lot landscaping exceptions

This staff report describes two potential new exceptions regarding commercial parking lot landscaping standards. The first allows for an exception for three feet of setback instead of five on the sides and rear of a perimeter. The second exception would potentially ease the requirement for 10 percent landscaping around driveways that serve as entrances to covered parking or loading areas (in Campustown Service Center and Downtown Service Center zones only). I know, exciting stuff, right?! (Just checking to see if you’re still reading.)

Item 29: Hearing on zoning text amendment pertaining to appeals of administrative decisions regarding zoning-related issues

This relates to landscaping standards, too. In June, the council approved new landscaping standards, and one thing to address is the process of appealing the planning director’s decision on a site development plan. The proposed new language sends such appeals to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Item 30: Hearing on proposed 2017-18 Community Development Block Grant annual action plan (continued from May 9 and June 13)

We finally heard back about our allocation from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, so we can proceed with approving this annual action plan. Funds allocated to Ames are up $19,529 from this year, for a total of $510,515 for the upcoming year. Staff propose using the additional funding for the city’s homebuyer assistance programs.

Item 31: Hearing on designation of Barilla urban renewal area and on proposed urban renewal plan and project

In February, the council directed staff to work up a $3 million incentive package for Barilla in the form of a 10 year tax-increment financing plan. Establishing an urban renewal area and TIF district are the next steps in that process. A development agreement is still in the works, which would spell out any stipulations Barilla has to meet in order to receive their annual tax rebate (including employment targets and a minimum assessment agreement).

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Item 33: Resolution regarding equal provision of public services

At our last council meeting, we passed the Safe Communities Resolution, reaffirming that our police don’t make a practice of determining one’s immigration status during routine business. Council member Peter Orazem put forth a more comprehensive resolution at that time, which was put on this agenda for discussion. One of the ‘resolved’ lines reads, “that no employees of the city of Ames will limit access to public services or seek proof of citizenship except where federal or state law explicitly reserve rights for legal citizens of the United States.”


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Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen is an at-large member of the Ames City Council. She is also a manager at Wheatsfield Cooperative and the co-owner of Cycles Recycling.