It was a night of ordinance business for the West Liberty City Council on Tuesday, May 2, the city taking action on three ordinances and several resolutions at their regular meeting held at the West Liberty Public Library.
The city first discussed and made a small change during a public hearing on an ordinance establishing the regulations to operate a golf cart, ATV or UTV in the city.
Council member Kara McFerren first questioned whether the vehicles should be required to have lights, noting that wasn’t part of the ordinance, but it was noted vehicles were only to be operated between sunset and sundown, nor requiring lights. She questioned that lights might also be needed in inclement weather. In bringing up inclement weather, which is a time those types of vehicles are not allowed to operate, council member Diane Beranek pointed out some of those vehicles, like ATV’s and UTV’s are used to plow snow.
Thus, the council amended the ordinance to include operation of such vehicles for snow plowing purposes and it was approved unanimously following the public hearing which was attended by two members of the community, Doug Phillips and Jim Thurston, who both spoke in favor of the ordinance at a previous meeting in April.
Later in the meeting, the council unanimously approved a second reading of an ordinance to rezone just over 11 acres of property on the northeast side of the community at the corner of East Rainbow Drive and Garfield Avenue for a new housing subdivision to be rezoned from agriculture to a mix of residential uses.
The Buysse Residential Development will include single-family housing, multi-family complexes and duplex units north of the Subway restaurant.
In a related move, the city is planning a meeting to discuss options for the nearby Dutton property north of the Dutton Sports Complex that was initially planned for housing development but had to be scrapped because of problems in developing the property.
The final reading of the ordinance is set for the June 1 council session.
Work session set on fire issues
Even later in the meeting, the council set a date for a work session on Tuesday, May 18 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss amendments to the Chapter 1 Code of Ordinances relating to the West Liberty and rural fire departments. The council would also review new website plans at the meeting while a discussion of state and local funding for the American Rescue Plan was taken off the agenda for that meeting.
The city also set a date for a public hearing on a proposal to enter into a Water Revenue Refunding Loan Agreement that favors city residents and businesses, the city refinancing a loan of $2,235,000 on a recommendation of Chip Schultz of Northland Securities, the city bonding firm. The new bonding would create a 1.15 percent interest rate on refunding water usage to the tune of $278,100. The hearing will be available on Zoom through the city’s website for anyone wanting to comment on the resolution.
The city also set a public hearing to establish a storm water utility for the May 18 meeting on the recommendation of staff, the Council Finance Committee and the city engineer.
The council also approved a resolution to spend $18,075 to clean water well #2, city engineer Leo Foley pointing out that should be the final expense in preparing the well for approval by the Iowa DNR, admitting there will be future costs in getting the well into production.
Council members also approved a resolution approving amendments to the Cemetery Regulations to include “Niches," discussed at a work session on Feb. 23. The proposal comes down to a change of fees.
The city also approved several event requests for the West Liberty Chamber of Commerce including hosting a Farmer’s Market, citywide garage sales, a Muscatine County Fair parade, Picnic in the Park and the Holiday Open House.
Loud noise complaints
In other business, the council talked about complaints of loud noise in the city caused by vehicles playing music too loud. After some discussion, the city decided to take a look at updating a city noise ordinance, McFerren calling it “antiquated.” The present ordinance works off decibel levels, a unit of measure not used by a lot of communities in today’s world.
Council members also got to meet Jessica and Jim Madsen of Nichols, who have been appointed by the Chamber as the new coordinators of the Farmer’s Market to be held as usual on North Spencer Street, between Third and Fourth Streets.
The couple said they will “do whatever it takes to have a successful market” and have been vendors for the past four years. They welcome new vendors, noting businesses don’t have to come weekly. The markets will begin in May and operate every Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. through the end of October.
The council also got an update regarding the hiring of two key positions, noting they are down to seven finalists for the Chief of Police position as well as six for the city manager post. Finalists for the police position will be interviewed on Thursday, June 10, with the finalists for the city manager position to take place a week later, both likely all day events according to interim city manager Elizabeth Hansen.
It was also pointed out the city would soon be starting sidewalk repair and continue to grind down tree stumps after cutting down dozens of diseased trees.
The City Electricity Department reported the acquisition of a new bucket truck, replacing their 15-year-old vehicle with a 2020 Ford with an Altec Bucket.
The truck is mainly used for power line maintenance, residents being warned to use caution when the vehicle is put into use. Electricians will be transferring materials and tool to the new vehicle. The department also replaced street lights at Wapsi Park.
The city also hired Brittany Woodson for city administration employment. She began her duties on May 3.