Nick's Council Connection 20Apr2015

trafficlights.jpgApril 20, 2015 (Council Chambers, 220 Clay St, Cedar Falls, IA 50613)

This week, we cover the Tiger Grant, put up traffic signals, add ordinances and much more.

-Committee of the Whole (6:20pm, Council Chamber, ELECTRONIC AGENDA & PACKET)-

In Committee we discuss soil and water conservation, Tiger Grants and Bills and Payroll. Only Bills and Payroll have backup files in the electronic agenda, which you are free to peruse in the link above.

If you are wondering about the Tiger Grant - it is not vicious at all. The Tiger Grant (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant) could provide significant funding for our University Avenue project. Here are some excerpts from the United States Department of Transportation on Tiger Grants:

Since 2009, Congress has dedicated more than $4.1 billion to fund projects that have a significant impact on the Nation, a region or a metropolitan area.  The TIGER program enables DOT to examine a broad array of projects on their merits, to help ensure that taxpayers are getting the highest value for every dollar invested.

Applicants must detail the benefits their project would deliver for five long-term outcomes: safety, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, livability and environmental sustainability. DOT also evaluates projects on their expected contributions to economic recovery, as well as their ability to facilitate innovation and new partnerships. The competitive structure of the TIGER program and its broad eligibility allow project sponsors at the State and local level to avoid narrow, formula-based categories, and fund multi-modal, multi-jurisdictional projects not eligible for funding through traditional DOT programs.

Naturally, council hopes University Avenue will qualify for funds based on the virtue of its design attributes for accommodation (multi-modal), flow, safety and environmental sensitivity. The reasons for selecting the current design were numerous, alternative funding potential was yet another. Tiger Grants have funded Ames Inter-modal ($8.5MM), Des Moines' MLK Jr. Parkway extension ($10MM), and Dubuque's Millwork Complete Streets project ($5.6MM) just to name a few. University Avenue was on Currents recently:

-Regular Council Meeting (7:00pm, Council Chamber, ELECTRONIC AGENDA & PACKET)-

Special Order of Business

trafficlights.jpgE.1&2) There are more traffic lights going up on Hudson Road (8th St. intersection). I wrote about the implications in my last post. While this will be a better option for pedestrians, the trade-off will be vehicular service level (delay will increase). Hudson Road was designed to move cars, not much else. In this year alone, we will invest over $500,000 in and around this intersection (signals and side walks) to make it more accommodating to the pedestrian. 

E.3&4) This is a new ordinance that limits building heights and increases required greenspace (as a function of building height) on the same site. I am not sure if this is a solution looking for a problem or vice versa (I've not heard any building height concerns). Ordinarily, we want to encourage height and correspondingly, square feet to maximize tax-base and minimize sprawl, this would appear to impose limitations. 

New Business

G.1.a) We appoint a new member to the Board of Rental Housing Appeals. In light of recent ordinance changes surrounding rentals, this board has assumed much greater power - the power to deny occupancy permits for rental homes based on subjective matters. At issue is a recent ruling where a real estate sale was usurped by the Board's ruling. The board denied an occupancy permit in quasi-judicial fashion on the basis that a neighborhood with less rental density should not have additional rentals. In the same meeting, a nearly identical home in a higher rental density neighborhood was permitted. Ordinarily, staff uses "carry capacity" of the neighborhood as the primary determinant for a rental permit. Staff recommended approval. However, the Board used rental density to judge that an additional rental would have a detrimental impact on neighborhood character (the home in question was a rental before, but due to the sale, occupancy rights terminated and required re-approval). The Board approved one home, denied another. The denial compromised the property sale. This is but one example where applicants went through the appeal process. It is tough telling the full impact of the new ordinance without having suitable period comparisons for sales activities in impacted neighborhoods.

- Nick's Briefs - 

gz.jpgI lost a dear reader this week. A long-time Cedar Falls resident, my sounding board for the Greatest Generation, a steady source for inspiration, one of the most kind, caring compassionate people I will ever know. Many of you know her as Lue Zurbriggen, I knew her as Grandma Z. While there is sadness in passing, there is great joy in remembering a life well-lived. Her remembrance


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