Thursday, March 23, 2017

Baldwin City Council Approves Conditional Use Permit, Rejects Development Plan

Kevin Surbaugh

The March 22, 2017 council meeting was called to order by Mayor Marilyn Pearse. After receiving a protest petition and a lengthy debate at the last meeting, the council again took up the issue of the conditional use permit for the cities new public works building.  Council-member Steve Bauer moved that the conditional use permit be approved and Council-member Tony Brown seconded. The permit was approved on a 4-1 voice vote, with Council-Member Kathy Gerstner casting the lone destining vote.
Mayor Marilyn Pearse and  City Administrator
Glenn Rodden
Photographer Kevin Surbaugh

The council then took up the required development plan, which goes with the permit just passed. Amy Conley, Baldwin City, spoke in opposition to the plan, saying when she bought her land and house, the city didn't own all the property around her. She asked the council to please consider her situation moving forward.
Council-member David Simmons said that he was concerned with the current plan that moves the public access road to the east. He said that he supported the plan as originally presented that would have provided access to the yard via the current driveway. In his opinion, he felt that was the only thing he could support, pushing the current gate back. Mayor Pearse wondered if it would be possible continue the berm around on the east between the neighbor and the cities facilities. Gerstner added that she was concerned the current plan was relying to much on the neighbors trees for the barrier rather then providing one on the cities side. A concern that the council was told could be done.
Council-members David Simmons and Kristi Darnell
Photographer Kevin Surbaugh
Ed Courton, Baldwin City Community Development Director, pointed out that it was 180 feet from the neighbors house and the cities property line, "that is significant," he said, "because it is equal to two building lots."
Darnell and Gerstner again, as in past meetings, also voiced concern of how the project will affect the cities utility users. The cities Finance Director, said that the city "could pay cash for this building right now. It would deplete our reserves significantly, but we have the cash."
Simmons stated that the council was there to represent and look out for the citizens. "We are not here to rubber stamp these projects," he told the council.
Bauer moved and Brown seconded that council approve the development plan. They were the only two to vote in favor, voting against the plan was Gerstner, Simmons and Darnell. The council will again take up the development plan at the April 3, 2017 council meeting.

In other business:

  • Heard from a resident, Barb Johnston, who had concerns about the cities 1% cap on solar.  Rob Culley, Baldwin City Power Plant Superintendent, said the 1% limited the cities exposure, it did not limit the number of residents allowed to use solar energy.  Council-member Brown, who chairs the utilities committee said they would like to raise that, but they also have to be fiscally responsible also. Cully also mentioned, that the city currently  purchases 18% of its wholesale energy from hydro and wind projects.

  • Received the annual Baldwin City Chamber report  from Jeannette Blackmar, Director of the Baldwin City Chamber.  
  • Under new business considered and unanimously approved water placement bid recommendation.
  • Mayor Pearse proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention month. 
  • Discussed a potential Committee of the Whole. Possibly on April 10th. 
  • Learned that the June 2017 photo in the Fairbanks Equipment Company calendar featured the Baldwin City Electric Plant.
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