What you missed at last night’s City Council meeting

city council meeting 2018-01-02
Ferndale City Council meeting (January 3, 2018). Photo: Discover Ferndale

Ferndale City Council met for a regular meeting last night. Here’s what was discussed.

  • Councilmembers Cathy Watson, Kate Hansen and Fred Kennedy were sworn in after being elected during last year’s General Election.
  • Neighbor Bertella Hansen spoke during the public comments segment of the meeting. She appealed to City staff and the councilmembers to return electronic traffic signal lights to the intersection of 1st Avenue and Main Street. She asked them to reconsider taking out the traffic lights pointing out how this had impacted the Ferndale Downtown Association as they worked with the Ferndale Chamber to place businesses in the several vacant spaces downtown. Hansen said prospective businesses in the empty former Hawley’s Auto Parts building had rejected the property due to concerns over access to and from it. As towns grow, Hansen said, more traffic lights are necessary to enable traffic to move smoothly and provide pedestrian safety, especially children going to Central Elementary. Hansen said removing the light showed concern for clearing traffic but did not show concern for businesses and shoppers.
  • There was a public hearing regarding the 6-month emergency moratorium on land use applications for storage facilities adopted in early November. No one chose to speak and the hearing was closed. The council will debated whether to shorten the moratorium. It was decided to keep the moratorium at 6-months knowing the opportunity to end it remains a possibility before then. City staff said work being done during Planning Commission meetings since adopting the moratorium provided hope that a win-win outcome may be possible.
  • City of Ferndale‚Äôs participation in a proposed 10-year interlocal agreement with the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County regarding maintenance of Slater Road and planning and enforcement issues regarding the road and adjacent properties east of I-5 was discussed. It was decided to send this to committee for initial review before the full council would discuss it.
  • The biennial appointment of a mayor pro tempore was taken care of. Councilmembers Greg Hansen and Cathy Watson were nominated. Watson received the majority of her fellow councilmembers’ votes, including Hansen’s.
  • Council went into a short executive session to consider collective bargaining agreements for Teamsters public works and clerical and the Police Guild. Afterward, the contracts for the public works and clerical staff were unanimously approved. It was moved and seconded to amend the Police Guild contract with higher rates of wage increases for 2018 and 2019. The Mayor advised councilmembers the contracts had been agreed upon by a team of City staff and union representatives, increasing pay was not a financially wise choice given the City was not losing police officers and the officers will be competitively paid. The motion failed by a vote of 3-4. It was then moved to approve the Police Guild contract as presented and that passed by a vote of 6-1.