January 20, 2009
Present: Council & Staff Present:
Ms. Newsom* Mayor Pro-Tem Carol Rudi
Ms. Alexander Scott Wingerson, Assist. City Manager
Ms. Babich David Ramsay, City Counselor
Mr. McCullough Chris Helmer, Planning Specialist
Mr. Garnos Becky Jarrett, Admin. Assist.
Absent: Mr. Whitton
*entered after roll call
Item 2 on the Agenda: Pledge of Allegiance.
Chairman Hill led the group in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Item 3 on the Agenda: Approval of the November 17, 2008 minutes.
MOTION: By Mr. Steffens, second by Mr. McCullough to approve the November 17, 2008, minutes as submitted. The minutes were approved as submitted.
Item 4 on the Agenda: Communications from the Audience.
Item 5 on the Agenda: PUBLIC HEARING : On an ordinance proposed to regulate the placement, construction and modification of telecommunication towers, support structures and antennaes.
Planning Specialist Helmer began the presentation by taking the Commission back to May of 2008 when City staff presented a model cellular tower as a study session. The primary reason for that was due to the fact that some applications received at the City by T-Mobile required significant legal review both internal and external as well as lengthy public hearings at the Commission level. Staff felt that it was time to look at a model ordinance that would specifically address the issues that came about during those public hearings.
Mr. Helmer began his review of those issues, by stating that the general intent of this ordinance, as with all the City’s ordinances, is to promote the general safety and welfare of our residents. At the beginning of the ordinance are some very general requirements from a regulatory approach. These include items such as security and lighting. Mr. Helmer said that he would prefer to spend more time discussing placement and overall design, which is what the Commission has had more predominate conversation about.
Within the model ordinance there is various language that allows the City the right to work with the placement or design of cellular towers; however, the City does not have the right to deny a provider on the basis of environmental effects or the fact that is not esthetically pleasing. This ordinance helps to build a stronger record and put more scrutiny on a provider that staff felt they did not have with the two previous tower applications.
Mr. Helmer highlighted page five, which deals with permitted uses. He said that a good way to describe this system is a tiered system approach. The permitted uses that are allowed in this ordinance are uses that a provider could comply with therefore, avoiding a special use permit. section four, or second tier of this section, is “Authorization by Administrative Permit”. The City Council often sees permits that are reviewed internally and move through on the consent agenda. This process would keep providers from having to obtain special use permits. With the tiered system all the criteria has to either be provided by the applicant as to why a shared use will not work.
Mr. Helmer reported that the final tier would be the special use permit. Upon evidence shown by the applicant that none of these administrative permits are meant, a special use permit would be considered by the Planning Commission and City Council.
Mr. Helmer quickly touched on the multi-use interest area map. What this map does is conceptually provide areas that either a provider or previous provider has shown interest in or that staff has determined is appropriate from a land use standpoint and should be considered. The provider would then have to supply staff with a findings of fact as to why that area would not be sufficient if they choose not to pursue it.
Mr. Helmer provided a PowerPoint presentation which depicted various types of cellular towers within the City of Gladstone that are both existing and some that were proposed in 2007/2008. The presentation also included some examples of innovative cellular tower designs. At the end of the PowerPoint, Mr. Helmer asked for questions from the Commission.
Ms. Babich asked about the first sentence of section six, page ten, which read, “Any upper portion of a tower which is not occupied by active antennae for a period of twelve months, and any entire tower which is not so occupied for a period of six months, shall be removed at the owner’s expense.” She said this didn’t seem to make sense.
Mr. Wingerson explained that often times there can be multiple providers on a single tower, so if the upper portion of the tower is abandon for twelve months they would have twelve months to release it and re-install antennas to a different provider. If they can’t do that in twelve months, then it would be declared obsolete, non-compliant and that portion would be removed. In six months if the entire tower is abandon, the entire tower comes down.
Ms. Newsom asked how the City would know if a tower is no longer being used.
Mr. Wingerson answered that either Building Official Napoli would be notified by the carrier or the contractor that does the work for the carrier would call and let staff know.
Chairman Hill directed his question to page eight, Findings Required for Special Use Requirements. He said he would like to see a requirement that states that the tower has to be in a location that serves the maximum number of citizens and in a location so as not to ignore portions of the city. He citied the Knights of Columbus application as an example of this situation. He also asked if there was a requirement on the special use permit that requires that towers be shared among other providers.
Mr. Helmer stated that he was unsure of the exact location of the verbiage in the ordinance, but that it did state that as a requirement.
Chairman Hill asked if the City requires any type of licensing for the carriers that is renewed on a periodic basis. He said this might help staff know when the towers are no longer being used.
Mr. Helmer said he can look into that.
Ms. Newsom questioned the appeal processed mentioned on page five and wondered if any other cities have been through the process.
Mr. Helmer answered that Dan Vogel, the author of this ordinance, has been at the forefront of this issue and has seen this ordinance work in numerous other cities.
Ms. Smith asked if the existing towers will be grandfathered into this new ordinance.
Mr. Helmer replied that if there are one time maintenance issues those are allowable, but the ordinance states that if there are any significant modifications those towers would need to come into compliance.
Ms. Smith asked if there was a special tax or any type of special assessment on properties that are used for towers.
Mr. Wingerson said the only thing he could think of is the increased assessed valuation at the County level. There are also telecommunications gross receipt taxes.
Mr. Garnos asked if it would be fair to describe this ordinance as not being pro-cell phone tower or con-cell phone tower.
Mr. Helmer said that it would be safe to say that any enterprise isn’t favorable of regulation; however, staff does hear from time to time that at least providing certainty is good because they know the rules up front.
Mr. Garnos asked what else this ordinance would apply to. He wondered about ham radio operators?
Mr. Helmer said that technology is changing so rapidly and it is his understanding that towers used for data and internet would fall under this ordinance.
Mr. Wingerson added that with or without this ordinance, ham radio antennas would likely still need a special use permit.
A few grammatical corrections were noted to Mr. Helmer.
Ms. Newsom asked if something should be added under the special use permit section regarding temporary structures such as using a temporary cell tower for Bluesfest or Gladfest. On page seven, section three she asked for clarification on the additional fees that may be required for the studies by the applicant. Number five in that same section needed re-wording.
There was no one in favor or opposition of the application. Chairman Hill closed the public hearing.
MOTION: By Mr. McCullough, second by Mr. West to approve Chapter 166, Communications Antennas and Support Structures and other amendments relating to the sitting, placement and approvals of such antennas and structures in the City.
Ms. Newsom Yes
Ms. Alexander Yes
Ms. Babich Yes
Mr. McCullough Yes
Mr. Garnos Yes
Mr. Velasquez Yes
Ms. Smith Yes
Mr. Steffens Yes
Mr. West Yes
Chairman Hill Yes
The motion carried. (11- Yes, 0-No)
Item 6 on the Agenda: A. Election of Officers
Ms. Alexander nominated Mr. Hill for Chairman. Ms. Newsom made a motion to cease all nominations and that Chairman Hill be elected by acclimation. Ms. Abbott gave the second.
Ms. Newsom nominated Mr. Garnos for Vice-Chairman. Ms. Newsom made a motion to cease all nominations and that Mr. Garnos be elected by acclimation. Mr. McCullough gave the second.
Ms. Abbott nominated Ms. Newsom for Secretary. Ms. Abbott made a motion to cease all nominations and that Ms. Newsom be elected by acclimation. Mr. Steffens gave the second.
The following commission members were also re-appointed as liaisons to the Capital Improvements Committee:
B. Sign Ordinance Discussion
Mr. Wingerson stated that Mr. Helmer is going to present the Sign Ordinance this evening. Last year a few of the Commission members served on the Sign Code Committee to study this issue in depth. Their focus was mainly on electronic reader boards. The result of the Committee is the ordinance that is being presented this evening. What he would like everyone to do is take some time to absorb it and look it from a variety of perspectives. He suggested a minimal amount of broad questions this evening and when the Commission meets again in February staff can answer more specific questions.
Mr. Helmer began by stating that many of the Commission have studied this subject in great depth. One reason the Sign Code Group was appointed was due to the advancement of technology in the area of signs. Staff has really tried to work with the business community and be sympathetic to them as well as research what surrounding communities are doing. Mr. Helmer reviewed the PowerPoint presentation and highlighted areas such as electronic/digital message signs, aesthetics, landscaping and illumination. He then asked for questions.
Mr. West said that after serving on the Sign Code Group, one of the things that they found most challenging was tying to achieve a balance between nice landscaping around signage and what would allow businesses to still conduct business.
Ms. Babich said that one of things she had suggested while on the Sign Code Focus Group was placing Gladstone’s logo or some type of identity on the sign. She said she has been happy with the progress of the new Sign Ordinance.
Ms. Newsom commented that she loves the landscaping, but sometimes it becomes a hindrance to traffic. She said this needs to be considered as part of the new ordinance.
Ms. Alexander asked about the compliance of the Creative Arts Academy sign.
Mr. Wingerson said he was planning on addressing that in staff comments.
Chairman Hill referred to page two, section two which discusses changeable copy signs and electronic message centers. He asked if it is the intent that they exclude each other.
Mr. Helmer answered that the electronic message center is more technologically savvy as far as what can be done with the changing message.
Chairman Hill asked about page four, (d), which states that the image must be displayed for a minimum duration of eight seconds. He said that doesn’t seem like very long. It would seem better from a public safety standpoint to require it to be a longer time frame, maybe thirty seconds. He sees two purposes for reader boards. One is to gain attention; the other is to multiple the square footage that is allowable. Chairman Hill suggested a formula that would calculate the signage allowed by how many times the electronic copy is changed.
Chairman Hill also raised his concerns for having reader boards being monotone versus color, signs being lit during the daytime and illuminated signs in residential zoning. (churches?)
Ms. Smith asked if there are currently height restrictions on electronic signs, content, and people carrying advertising signs.
Mr. Helmer replied that there are currently height restrictions on electronic signs of seven feet (monument signs).
Mr. Wingerson answered that currently the temporary sign ordinance addresses some of those issues.
Mr. Garnos asked if the current electronic signs will be grandfathered in.
Staff answered that of course the City would like to see complete compliance; however, without a change in ownership that is unlikely to happen from a legal standpoint. They will visit with some of the business owners and educate them on the new ordinance to see if they would be able to make some adjustments to their current signs.
Item 7 on the Agenda: Communications from the City Council and City Staff.
Councilman Rudi announced several up-coming events:
One-year birthday event for the Community Center- details to follow
Frank Armato art exhibit- February 3rd.
Art Springs- April 24th and 25th
Friends of the Atkins-Johnson Farm- Meets first Thursday of month at 6:30 pm
Boards & Commission dinner- February 12th , RSVP to Diane Whitaker
She also said that the Community Center now has 5,049 members!
Mr. Wingerson welcomed the newest member of the Commission, Mr. David Velasquez. Mr. Velasquez is a product of the Leadership Academy. He thanked him for his involvement.
Ms. Jarrett has left a biography of the Commission at the places this evening. If they have an update, please complete and return to her.
Stratford Park will be heard at the next meeting of February 2nd. Revised plans were included in the Commissioner’s packets; however, a new submittal is expected. The developer has tried to address many of the Commission’s comments and concerns.
Mr. Wingerson encouraged members to view the City’s website. There are new pages for sustainability and neighborhoods.
The 2008 Comprehensive Plan will begin to be implemented in 2009. Staff plans on providing an update to the Commission twice a year. He told them to expect a Village Center regulation this year as well some regulation on sustainability issues such as wind turbines, solar panels etc.
Finally, Mr. Wingerson said that he sent Ms. Raisher of Creative Arts Academy correspondence last week and she has left a message to meet with him. The letter reminded her of her Special Use Permit regulations. He will report back to the Commission.
Item 8 on the Agenda: Communications from the Planning Commission Members.
Ms. Abbott asked if the plastic sign at 63rd and Broadway advertising apartments for rent is compliant.
Mr. Wingerson said he will have staff look at it.
Ms. Newsom congratulated Chairman Hill on his Joe Wally Award as well as Mr. Wingerson on a successful year as Chamber Chairman.
Mr. West asked if his suggestion about offering a discount on Hybrid vehicles was ever researched.
Councilman Rudi said that she did ask a couple of different times, but was told that employee pricing was offered to the City and that was all they could do.
Ms. Smith said that she received a letter regarding have house numbers on the front of her home.
Mr. Wingerson commented that as a public safety issue, code enforcement is looking for house numbers as they go through neighborhoods on a city-wide effort.
Ms. Alexander said that she has shopped at Family Video and has very impressed with them.
Chairman Hill asked about the chain-link fencing at Westlake Ace Hardware.
Mr. Wingerson answered that as part of their site plan they are allowed part of the parking lot as outdoor storage and the fence has become a security issue. Mr. Napoli has spoke to the manager about different types of fencing and/or security measures.
Chairman Hill also asked about the piles of pallets that are stacked at Malones Landscape.
Mr. Wingerson said he will have staff look into it.
Item 9 on the Agenda: Adjournment.
Chairman Hill adjourned the meeting at 9:17 pm.
______________________________________ Approved as submitted _____
Becky Jarrett, Recording Secretary
______________________________________ Approved as corrected _____
J. Brian Hill, Chairman