January 11, 2011

January 11, 2011

CALL TO ORDER: Mayor Echanove called the Council Meeting to order at 7:02 PM.

ROLL CALL: Council members present: Cecil Floyd; Mike Milano; Connie Newman; Norm Schorzman; Jeff Snook; Rick Wekenman. Absent: Randy Zehm. Councilmember Milano MOVED, seconded by Schorzman to excuse Councilmember Zehm due to illness. Discussion ensued about what the procedures are in terms of what is considered an excused absence. The city has no policy. Councilmember Newman thinks there should be guidelines. She will make recommendations to the Policy Committee. Motion carried. Also present: Public Works Superintendent Dwayne Griffin; Police Chief Jerry Neumann; Police Officer Brian Dentler; Clerk-Treasurer Joyce Beeson; & Deputy Clerk Ann Thompson. Public present: Pete Hertz; Mark Bailey; Joe Poire; Greg Partch; Kent Nelson; Logan Gorence; Galen Gorence; Paul Kimmell.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Councilmember Floyd MOVED to adopt the minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of December 28, 2010. Councilmember Wekenman seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

PUBLIC WORKS REPORT: Supt. Griffin reported on work. The Boy Scouts collected approximately 20 Christmas trees which they limbed prior to bringing to compost facility.

POLICE REPORT: Chief submitted the December activity log. There is a low turnout on dog licensing compliance so they are going to begin actively reminding people. Chief is getting estimates to develop signage for the park rules.

Joe Poire from Port of Whitman County: The Port is requesting an easement to bring fiber-optics through Palouse. The project begins in downtown Spokane and ends in Clarkston. They are asking for a franchise agreement and presented council with a sample ordinance which could be used as a template. There is a grant involved in this project to anchor certain institutions. In Palouse they are the library and medical clinic. They still have to buy the service but it’s the Port’s responsibility through this grant to get fiber to them. Because they got in on federal stimulus money they have only 12 to 14 months to build this. This agreement is non-exclusive; the port will then lease the fiber out. This project is a fully bonded public work. While the project has not yet been engineered they are fairly certain that because of the rock in Palouse, they will have to saw cut much of it rather than boring. The main build will be underground. Mayor Echanove voiced his concern and affirmed that the engineers and contractor would have to work closely with the city. Councilmember Wekenman recommends putting it in under the worst sidewalks we have and putting them on a schedule for reconstruction. The Port wants this out to bid in 2 weeks, work to begin in April, completed by Thanksgiving. Attorney Bishop will work on the agreement and develop a plan to bring it back to council.

Streets & Sidewalks-Cecil Floyd, Chair: Gloria Bennett from TIB is coming tomorrow to meet with the street committee regarding using the TIB website and defining eligible projects.

Water & Sewer – Connie Newman, Chair: Reported she received a series of calls from Jim Farr. She referred his zoning question to Mayor and Clerk Beeson. John Eastburn has called her as well regarding street opening questions and about getting a water main to Nicole Wood’s property that he is interested in. Mayor has authorized Connie to communicate with him. Mark Bailey of the Planning Commission clarified that one of the primary tenets to request a zoning change is that you have “legal interest” in that property, meaning proven ownership, partial ownership or a legal share. Planning Commission asked John Eastburn for it 6 weeks ago and never received it.
Regarding our Water System Plan, Atty. Bishop is compiling data and will begin crafting it soon. Connie has begun reviewing the engineer SOQ’s. There is no timeline imposed by DOH; they just want to see us proceed with the plan. Connie wants to begin the asset inventory at the same time. Clerk Beeson reminded council that a lot of work for the WSP may be done free of charge if RCAC gets a grant to do so through the Dept of Health. She suggested not hiring an engineer until this is confirmed. The committee will move forward to put together a short list of engineering firms.

Policy & Administration – Norm Schorzman, Chair: Mike Milano is still working on the nuisance ordinance regarding noise and light pollution. Mayor reminded this committee to also discuss Councilmember Newman’s questions about defining an excused absence.

Personnel & Pool – Jeff Snook, Chair: Will be working with city staff soon to begin the process of hiring a pool manager. He is thinking we have several returning guards.

Greg Partch Whitman Co. Commissioner. The next Whitman County Mayor’s Roundtable is slated to be in Palouse March 10th. The subject is Open Public Documents Act. The Roundtable is sponsored by Avista and SEWEDA. Councilmember Milano MOVED to allow Greg Partch to continue speaking past the allotted 3 minutes. Councilmember Snook seconded and the motion carried unanimously. Pat Mason from MRSC in Seattle is going to speak about the records retention, public records requests and the open public meetings act. This is a great opportunity for elected officials to meet with their peers in Whitman County who share in civic responsibilities.

Paul Kimmell, Regional Business Manager of Avista Utilities. Avista believes in publicly recognizing those individuals who have provided exemplary contributions, achievements, and impact on their community. After reading aloud a letter, Paul Kimmell, on behalf of Avista, presented Mayor Echanove with their 2010 Avista Excellence in Local Government Award. The award is made to a local elected official in both Latah and Whitman County. In addition to the award, Mayor Echanove has the opportunity to award a $250 scholarship to a Whitman County high school civics/government teacher, program or activity to help promote local government, civics, and community service within our community. The mayor indicated he would be selecting Gar-Pal High School.

Planning Commission’s Findings of Fact for Proposed Breeding’s Addition Zoning Change. The City received a request from John Eastburn to rezone from low density to commercial Nicole Wood’s property in Breeding’s Addition. There was no official public hearing on this issue. At their regular meeting of Jan. 4, 2011, the Planning Commission reviewed the request and wrote their Findings of Fact for council. Mayor read aloud the findings of fact. For numerous reasons, the Planning Commission rejected the proposed zoning change. The city asked our attorney what it takes for someone to make a zoning change request if they don’t own the property. Atty. Bishop said the only two people who can request a zoning change are the owner or the agent of the owner who has legal authority by demonstratable proof. Mr. Eastburn in this particular case failed to show that he was the legal agent for the owner.

In hindsight, this zoning request should never have made it to the Planning Commission because of the lack of proof of legal interest. The procedure to be followed for zoning requests is as follows: a requestor of a zoning change must provide, to city staff, proof of legal interest in the property which will be verified by the city attorney. Once verified, it will go to council. Only council will decide if a zoning request goes to the Planning Commission.

Councilmember Snook MOVED, seconded by Councilmember Schorzman, to accept the Planning Commission’s Findings of Fact rejecting John Eastburn’s zoning change request.

Much discussion ensued about the numerous requests from Jim Farr, John Eastburn, and Nicole Wood regarding this same piece of property and the fact that some of these requests have been answered numerous times. Atty. Bishop advised Mayor to inform staff to respond to duplicate requests with the same response as last time. These three people refuse to attend council meetings to discuss their requests. Another request arrived today from Jim Farr which he wants on the next agenda and a written response from Attorney Bishop. Mayor and council advised staff to inform Jim Farr that today’s request will not be on an agenda and that the mayor will not instruct the attorney to respond to it in writing.

Mayor and Council discussed procedure for allowing addendums to council minutes. According to MRSC, there is no policy or state regulation; it is up to council as to how it is done. Accordingly, it is up to council whether written letters or statements be included in the minutes. Our minutes, like most cities in the state, use summary minutes, not verbatim minutes. Council agreed that the minutes should include action items and summaries. Minutes are not a political forum.

Frontier has high speed internet now. They are coming to Palouse this Friday and serving hotdogs and burgers at their office on the corner of Whitman and Bridge.

ALLOW PAYMENT OF BILLS: Councilmember Snook MOVED that the bills against the city be allowed. Councilmember Milano seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

ADJOURN: Councilmember Schorzman MOVED to adjourn. Councilmember Milano seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously. The council meeting adjourned at 9:17 PM.

The following checks are approved for payment:
December 2010 Payroll Paid Ck. No. 2850 – 2869 & EFT $41,959.67
December 2010 Claims Paid Ck. No. 2870 – 2886 & EFT $ 4,312.89
January 2011 Claims Paid Ck. No. 2887 – 2899 $18,768.82
VOIDED Ck. 2891
TOTAL $63,740.26

APPROVED: ________________________________ ATTEST: ________________________________