Bronwyn’s Council Preview, March 27, 2018: Lincoln Way Redevelopment, Campustown Plaza Concept, and RAGBRAI

The City Council meeting starts at 6 p.m. The agenda includes (but is not limited to):

Item 38: Campus and Community Commission presentation of report regarding Campustown Plaza concept

Recently, the council referred the topic of a community space in Campustown to the recently established CCC. The commission’s recommendation is that we consider the space on the southeast corner of Welch Avenue and Chamberlain Street for this purpose. (Prior proposals had included the interior parking lot to the west on the first block of Welch Avenue.)

Item 39: RAGBRAI presentation and overview of requests from Ames Convention and Visitors Bureau

Several requests are being proposed by the ACVB in preparation for the hosting of RAGBRAI in July. First, some old language actually prohibits riding bicycles on hard-topped surfaces through Brookside Park, a code change which we might consider regardless of RAGBRAI. Other changes include simplification of vendor permit handling, and allowing camping and vehicles in some parks overnight where they are otherwise prohibited. The proposed route is shown on the map below:

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Items 41: Hearing on zoning text amendment to revise Municipal Code Section 29.1108, temporary deferral on demolition and development; and 42: Hearing on proposed amendment to official zoning map to show a temporary deferral on demolition and development of properties in the vicinity of Lincoln Way that are in the area bounded on the north by the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, on the east by Duff Avenue and South Duff Avenue, on the south by the alley running parallel to Lincoln Way, and on the west by Grand Avenue (Downtown Gateway commercial)

Items 41, 42, and 51, below, all relate to the “Downtown Gateway” section of the Lincoln Way Corridor. This was designated as our primary focus area, following the last two years’ extensive Lincoln Way Corridor study. The vision for this area is comparable to the redevelopment we’ve seen in Campustown, featuring taller buildings with residential on the upper stories and commercial uses on the ground floor. While the council and staff work towards a final decision regarding zoning of this area, the council is considering a moratorium on development and redevelopment in this area.

Item 51: Lincoln Way redevelopment project update

A developer, Argent Group, is looking to consolidate properties in the Downtown Gateway area and redevelop them into a hotel and apartment complex. They are asking the council to indicate initial support for their project, up to and including financial incentives such as tax abatements and tax-increment financing. Typically, the council would have a more complete picture before being asked to indicate support for something like a TIF — how much they are asking for, to start. To complicate matters, the council is in the middle of reviewing zoning standards for the Downtown Gateway, and Argent Group’s proposal would need to fit the as-yet-undecided zoning for this area.

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Item 52: First reading of ordinance revising Chapter 13, Rental Housing Code, regarding occupancy

This has been a long time in the making. To recap, this rental code change would restrict occupancy to up to three people in one-, two-, or three-bedroom rental units, four occupants in a four-bedroom, and five occupants in a five-bedroom. Off-street parking will NOT be used to determine occupancy. Also, the council is considering extending the moratorium on new rental permits in neighborhoods near campus while we come to a decision on rental percentage caps. The council will revisit the rental percentage cap yet this spring.

Item 61: Request from Xenia Rural Water District to serve properties generally located south of existing corporate limits, east of Ames Municipal Airport, and west of South Duff Avenue

In the past, Ames allowed rural water providers to provide water to areas within two miles of the city limits. Due to costly past water buyouts, the city has changed this practice, preferring to provide water through our municipal system instead. A request was recently made by Xenia to serve properties near our south city limit, but staff are recommending the city provide this water service instead.

Item 62: Resolution approving contract with Parkmobile for app-based services (pay-by-phone for parking meters)

This app is a first step in being able to pay for parking meters with a credit or debit card.

Thanks for reading,
Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen
City Council At-Large

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