A lot of good signs in Central City

SamHooverCouncil moving forward on new sign code and Big-T parking lot acquisition

By David Josselyn

After a two hour work session on revamping the sign code, the Central City Council and City Staff met for a regular Council Meeting on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 7:01 pm. All council members were present. Also in attendance for Staff were City Clerk Reba Bechtel, City Manager Daniel Miera, City Attorney Marcus McAskin, Fire Chief Gary Allen, and Public Utilities Director Sam Hoover.

After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, Mayor Ron Engels asked for any amendments or additions to the agenda or if any agenda items presented a conflict of interest. The agenda was amended to move agenda item 9, Ordinance 15-7 regarding the sign code, into the first action item position.

Consent Agenda

The Mayor called for a motion to approve the consent agenda which consisted of the regular bill lists of September 17, 24, and October 1; and the City Council minutes of September 15. Alderman Gloria Gaines moved to approve the consent agenda and was seconded by Alderman Judy Laratta. Alderman Shirley Voorhies asked that the minutes of the September 15 meeting be amended to read “the next Council meeting is scheduled for October 6, 2015 at 7:00 pm” instead of 8:32 pm. Alderman Gaines noted that there have been quite a few costs incurred involving turnover in the police department and asked if there was a way to reduce the turnover rate and the costs associated. Manager Miera responded that they are in fact working on several factors to reduce the turnover rate. The approval of the consent agenda passed unanimously.

Public Forum

Mayor Engels opened the floor to the public for anyone who wished to speak to a topic on the agenda. No one chose to address council at this time.

No Electronic Message Centers

City Attorney Marcus McAskin introduced Ordinance 15-07 which would repeal and replace the Sign Code in accordance with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in June 2015 on Reed vs. Town of Gilbert. The Supreme Court found that the town was discriminating among signs based on content which is protected by the First Amendment. While many municipalities are not in direct conflict with the decision, their codes allow for broad interpretation especially with digital signage and political signage which could unintentionally allow discriminatory practices with signs. Central City’s manager, Daniel Miera, and attorney, Marcus McAskin, have been working diligently with staff and the public to rewrite Central’s sign code. During a work session prior to this meeting, amendments were suggested and agreed upon to add to this Ordinance such as adding barber poles to allowable signs, including cross reference to a zoning map, and to delete all references to electronic message centers (EMCs) while leaving the structure to add verbiage regarding EMCs at a later date. A compromise between historical preservation and economic innovation included the removal of this passage as a topic not to deny, but to table and continue to talk about until a satisfactory resolution could be made. The Council agreed to revisit electronic signage at least once a year.

Alderman Kathy Heider moved to approve the first reading of Ordinance 15-07 with the proposed amendments, setting the second reading and public hearing for November 3, and was seconded by Alderman Gloria Gaines. The motion passed unanimously.

The Prospect of Snow

Public Utilities Director Sam Hoover reviewed the annual Prospectors Run Snow Removal Agreement. The continuing agreement would leave the snow removal responsibility of Prospectors Run, including Mack Road which is City property, to the HOA of Prospectors Run. The chemicals used by the City are harmful to the material of the roads within the property and the agreement allows Prospectors Run to use sand and muscle to remove snow thus preserving the integrity of the road material. Hoover stated there are no material differences in the new agreement and recommended the Council to approve it. The cost is about $800 per month.

Mayor Engels noted that there has been quite a bit of turnover on the HOA board lately and questioned whether the new board will be able to manage the contract appropriately. A member of the Prospectors Run HOA responded that the new board is working hard and will manage the contract as good, if not better than, the board of the past.

Alderman Voorhies moved to approve the new contract and was seconded by Alderman Heider. The motion passed unanimously.

Work Comp Rates Down

Finance Director Abigail Adame reviewed the 2016 CIRSA Property, Casualty and Workman’s Comp quote and encouraged the council to approve the quote. The 2016 quote has lower rates than 2015.

Alderman Voorhies moved to approve the 2016 quote and was seconded by Alderman Laratta. The motion passed unanimously.

Borrowing from the future

City Attorney McAskin introduced Ordinances 15-08 which would approve a license fee rebate agreement with G.F. Gaming, and 15-09 which would approve the acquisition of property commonly known as the Big-T Parking lot. These ordinances were presented together because they tie closely to each other. Ann Dodd of G.F. Gaming has agreed to pre-pay gaming license fees of $1,000 per device per year for the specific purpose of helping the City to acquire the Big-T Parking Lot. The Big-T lot is at the intersection of Nevada Street (Central City Parkway), Main Street, and Spring Street. Ordinance 15-09 would authorize the City Manager, Miera, to complete negotiations and execute all documents in the acquisition. Both Miera and McAskin reminded the Council that this is not a done deal, but they are nearing the end of negotiations and the agreement should be finalized well before the November 3 date of the second reading.

Alderman Heider stated this is a “wonderful thing” and “I applaud Daniel and Marcus” for being able to acquire the lot.

Alderman Gaines moved to approve Ordinance 15-08 and was seconded by Alderman Voorhies. The motion passed unanimously.

Alderman Voorhies moved to approve Ordinance 15-09 and was seconded simultaneously by Alderman Gaines and Alderman Laratta. The motion passed unanimously.

The second reading and public hearing for each ordinance is scheduled for the November 3 council meeting.

Staff Updates and Council Comments

  Manager Miera advised the Council that the FEMA road repair projects on the Parkway are near completion and will be tentatively finished in mid-October. Site 1, along a sharp bend near the entrance of town, is the last area under major construction. They are installing a burrito drain to divert spring water which continually erodes the ground under the pavement.

Miera also mentioned that the fencing around the Knights of Pythias Building has been moved back per request. The fence is not designed for protection, but as a barrier to prevent people from walking into the structure.

Miera updated the Council on the Belvidere Theatre. The previous owner, J. Williams, was given opportunity to remove items from the building with a deadline of October 1. The City of Central and the County of Gilpin have given J. Williams an extension on that deadline with certain safety and liability provisions. If J. Williams does not comply, the County will clean out the Theatre at Williams’ expense and tow any vehicles or trailers left behind assuming the City has acquired the T-Lot by that point.

Alderman Gaines thanked Director Hoover for his diligence in working with Xcel Energy in getting “that project” completed. Director Hoover replied that he certainly can’t take all the credit for it, “but thank you.”

Mayor Ron Engels presented a certificate of appreciation to Alderman Gloria Gaines and thanked her for her service. This is the final council meeting for Alderman Gaines before she and her husband relocate to Florida. Alderman Heider stated, “It’s been a pleasure serving with you” and that Gaines will be missed. Alderman Laratta said “I will miss you terribly.”

Public Forum

  The Mayor opened the floor for public comment on any items not on the evening’s agenda and two residents addressed the council.

Resident Jack Hidahl updated the Council on the water service line project they approved earlier this year. The project is complete and “the water service is working as you would expect it to.” Hidahl is reference a resolution from July 2015 which approved the splitting of a service line into two lines for two separate properties and installing a new meter for the new line. “I want to thank Daniel (Miera) and Marcus (McAskin) for putting together the resolution and the Council for adopting it,” said Hidahl. Jack then offered wisdom gained from the project. “Don’t bother sending your kids to college; $130 per hour is what it cost to do that project.” Hidahl also warned that every contractor he contacted for the project with the exception of one had nothing nice to say about working the City of Central. Hidahl stated the blame lies solely on the previous City Manager and City Planner, but the current Staff and Council have some work to do to repair that image. Hidahl ended by commending Manager Miera and Attorney McAskin on the progress they made in acquiring the Big-T lot. Even if it falls through, they have come closer than any previous attempt. Hidahl believes that the Big-T Lot is key to Central’s future and all talk about signage will disappear once the lot is acquired.

Resident Bobbie Hill addressed the council to thank them for their work on the sign code revisions. Hill stated that they have had three hours of discussion and took seriously the public opinion. “It made our work worthwhile,” said Hill.

Mark your calendars

Mayor Engels adjourned the regular Council Meeting at 7:48 pm. The next regular Council Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 20, at 7:00 pm, although some items for this meeting have been moved to November 3 and the October meeting may be cancelled.

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