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Here’s what will be discussed at Monday’s Ferndale City Council meeting

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The following letter to Ferndale City Councilmembers is provided courtesy of Ferndale City Administrator Greg Young. It provides summaries and background in some cases, of the items on the meeting agenda for the regular City Council meeting scheduled for 6pm, Monday, October 1st plus a workshop before the meeting.

Greetings All

We will begin Monday night at 5PM for our first formal 2019 Budget Workshop. We will be focusing our efforts on the General Fund (Current Expense Fund). Not only, as you are aware, do many of our city services live in this fund, it is historically the most difficult fund to balance revenues with desired expenditures. We will be reflecting on what we expect 2019 revenues to be and, perhaps more importantly, what our anticipated expenditures will be next year and the resulting ending fund balance. This will enable us to discuss potential additional funding available to augment expenditures and/or consider new programs – if any.

Turning to the regular agenda, we will begin with our Consent Agenda which has no additional items over the regular minutes and payroll expenses.

After the Consent Agenda we will be introduced to Dylan Snook, the newest Ferndale student member of the Planning Commission. If you remember, we added a representative from the Ferndale school district to enable a young voice to be heard on this advisory body since, after all, they will be inheriting the reins of the City in the future.

Next will be our monthly city capital project update from our Public Works Capital Project Manager, Katy Radder. Katy is very busy wrapping up many projects around the city and will give us the latest news regarding these projects. With the fall wet weather approaching, our contractors are diligently attempting to get their work done in a timely manner.

Following this we will hold a Public Hearing for the potential city property vacation (transfer to private ownership) of a strip of and adjacent to a home in our city. As you have read, this home, constructed many years ago, has incrementally expanded their side yard onto city property. Over the last few years, the homeowner has constructed retaining walls, built a shed and leveled and graveled a parking area for a boat and recreational vehicle.

The city property in question is immediately adjacent to a hillside at the bottom of which is a stream. In addition, the city has an existing sewer line and storm drain pipe in the area. This city parcel was retained by the city when the housing development was constructed for two basic reasons – the first is to provide maintenance access should we need to work on the sewer line and secondly, to act as a vegetative buffer for the critical area (steep slope and stream).

While we are sympathetic to the homeowners that they were unaware of the exact property line location and had the intention of improving the appearance of their property, it has become clear that access to the sewer line is important and even without the sewer access issue, current environmental and permitting regulations would not allow the gravel parking area to be constructed so close to the hillside and stream.

In addition, our Vacation Ordinance requires that there is a perceived public benefit – that is to say, we normally do not vacate city property for the benefit of a landowner without the determination that the city (and its citizens) also gain something from the transaction. Since these type of Council actions does serve to set precedent, it is the opinion of city staff that the vacation request be denied. Also, under the auspicious of precedent, we will probably need the homeowner to physically remove these improvements and return the area to its prior condition. This requirement is consistent with other encroachment situations where we have become aware of homeowners building structures and otherwise occupying park space and other city properties. Otherwise we are potentially making the determination that the city, if unaware, will allow homeowners to expand their property onto city right-of-way in the future.

Following this topic, we will take up the potential revision to a Developer Agreement on Legoe Avenue. Not unlike some other issues, this is somewhat complicated since we are dealing with a prior Council decision, recent developments that have altered the landowners perception of what a viable development proposal could be, and the desires of another agency (school district). Staff has and will go through these issues Monday night but one take-away I got from our Committee meeting was even if the Council decided to alter the Developers Agreement, the landowner will need to go through the Variance process and the Hearings Examiner to be able to build the duplex he wants on the small area of his land. I bring this up to point out that there will be additional process and opportunity for the adjacent landowners to voice their concerns so your potential action will, by itself, not ultimately decide the fate of this parcel.

The next topic will hopefully be more straightforward. As we heard, there are competing section of our code that lists either a 24-hour or a 72-hour limitation on cars parked on the street. We want to remove this inconsistency and will hear from both Code Enforcement and our police as to the issues associated with the two different time limits. At the end of the day, we hope you can decide on the appropriate time limit for inclusion in our Code.

Our attention will then be directed to the issue of Temporary Outdoor Encampments. We are attempting to be proactive should there be a desire for these types of homeless arrangements in the future. We are limiting our proposed code addition to encampments associated with and/or sponsored by a religious organization due to recent court actions.

The last item is a temporary water/sewer billing arrangement that is intended to soften the impact of higher than expected summer utility bills. Based on our discussions at Committee, I have enclosed a revised memo [editor: link added to PDF file] that hopefully address your concerns.

Well, that is all for now. Not a light agenda but hopefully one we can work through and adjourn at a reasonable hour. I hope everyone has a great weekend – see you at 5PM Monday night.

The public is encouraged to attend City Council meetings. They are held on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month at 6pm in the City Hall Annex in the Council Chambers at 5694 2nd Avenue.

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