Mayor John Gates
Pro-Tem Robb Casseday (Pro-Tem is chair of meetings in Mayor’s absence)
What’s Great about Greeley
University of Northern Colorado (UNC) received a $500,000 grant for a renewable energy project from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The money will go towards putting up solar arrays on top of Parson’s Hall in the spring of 2019.
Steve Keats spoke first. Keats complained that the Council “is not meeting the transit needs of the people.” He wanted to know what the City’s vision is for transportation. Pro-Tem Casseday informed Keats that City staff has a vision report that Council has endorsed and said the City would get a copy of it to him.
Bill Gillard spoke next. Gillard asked if there were penalties for contractors who run over schedule on road projects. City Manager Roy Otto answered for the Council, stating there are penalties in all City contracts for developers who go over schedule. Otto offered to personally provide Gillard with details in the coming days on the reasons for delays on the 71st Avenue project.
Gillard had an additional question as to why Quality of Life tax money was being spent on School District 6 facilities, such as sports fields. Otto again answered. Otto informed Gillard that some of the fields were paid for with City tax money in a deal that allows the City to use some of the facilities. “We had funding to be invested through the Quality of Life Program to build new community parks” Otto explained, continuing, “the estimate . . . for building a new community park was in the range of $8 million dollars, and [the City was] able to, as an example, do improvements to District 6 Stadium—be able to turn that into a community park for [the City’s] recreation uses as well—for roughly $2 million. So that was the mindset associated with those things.” The deal allows the public limited use of certain facilities, too (such as public use of the running tracks at Greeley West High School and Heath Middle School when school is not in session). Otto expressed that the City feels it benefits from the ability to use these facilities as opposed to having to go out and purchase new space, which costs money and takes up private land, and as opposed to having to maintain the facilities themselves—this way, the school district takes care of maintenance.
Reports from Mayor and Councilmembers
Councilmember Dale Hall said he attended the Poudre River Trail Board, and that on September 12ththere will be a Party for the Poudre event at Island Grove trailhead to celebrate 25 years of the Poudre River Trail.
Councilmember Michael Fitzsimmons said he attended the Visit Greeley meeting and that he was thrilled to see all that is going on in Greeley. The Councilman said he also met with a couple of residents on 65th Avenue to discuss concerns around the intersection at 65th Avenue and Highway 34.
Councilmember Smail said he went to the grand re-opening of Woodbriar park. Smail said he was joined by roughly 100 residents and City staffers. In closing, Smail invited Greeley residents to visit the new, fully renovated park.
Pro-Tem Robb Casseday said he was at the Greeley-Weld County Airport Authority meeting and the Greeley Downtown Authority Board of Directors meeting, where he learned there are only two properties left for sale downtown, eight left for lease, one new business opening, five businesses soon to open and other businesses in the making.
Petitions from Mayor and Councilmembers
Councilmember Hall used this time to express his concerns with Proposition 108, which could be on this year’s statewide ballot—the decision whether or not will come within the next 30 days. The Proposition is concerned with eminent domain—the government’s seizing of private property for public or private use. Hall’s concerns were with parts of the proposition that talk about fair market value. The proposition, Hall said, does not specify how fair market value of land will be determined. Hall also said he has an issue with how much it may cost City taxpayers. If an owner feels they are not receiving fair market value, the City will have to spend taxpayer money going to court to fight the claim. Hall also took time to warn against voting for any proposition that would become an amendment to the Colorado Constitution. The councilmember explained that amendments are incredibly difficult to ever change or go back on in the future. Councilmember Hall asked that the rest of Council support having the City’s legal staff begin looking at possible effects such an amendment would have on the City.
The Council supported Councilmember Hall’s request.
City Manager Roy Otto voiced further input, stating, “I’d actually like to do some analysis of a number of potential items that will be on the upcoming ballot to be able to share that information with council on all of those.” Otto went on to talk about how the City can’t spend any money taking sides on ballot measures once they are officially on the ballot. But, Otto made clear, the City can put money towards spreading factual information and City Council can pass resolutions in support of issues that might be on the ballot. Otto finished by saying, “I think it would be incumbent upon us to do analysis of all of these items to then let you as a council make a determination as to what your collective opinion would be.”
Once this discussion finished up, Councilwoman Suniga took time to address the Council. Suniga brought up a suggestion she’d been given during her last City Chat. A faculty member from University of Northern Colorado (UNC) had the idea of an official board, commission or committee with the City that would involve residents, City officials, City staff, Aims Community College and UNC. Suniga said, “in reasonable time, I’d like to request that maybe we look into that suggestion.”
Pro-Tem Casseday responded, “I know in the past we’ve had somewhat of that with our Creative District Board.” Casseday then looked to City staff for ideas on what this might look like. Otto quickly responded: “Well, I think the concept is sound. From the standpoint of working the details we’d be happy to take that as a request of council.” The city manager offered to have the City contact the individual Suniga received the suggestion from. Otto went on to speak of the need for this type of arrangement. He said he himself had been considering setting up some type of economic advisory group that would involve local higher education. Otto then referenced Councilmember Smail’s similar interest in building a student-City connection.
“Any opportunity for us as government officials to interact with students,” Smail added, “I think that’d mean a lot to them.” Smail spoke of the possibility of students getting the chance to look behind the scenes at how government works and to provide feedback about their experience at University of Northern Colorado (UNC) and their perspective on the school. “Any time we can connect with them,” Smail finished, “I’d be a huge fan of that.”
Councilmember Hall then shared some input. Hall questioned the direction and desired outcome of such an advisory board. Hall said, “maybe it could become clearer as it was looked at. I don’t want to have a board just to have a board . . .”
In Suniga’s response to the question of a possible desired outcome, the Councilwoman referred to the significance of connecting with the community, the need to speak to and hear from the students about what they would like from their City and the City’s desire to further develop and improve on 8th Avenue serving as a way to connect with students through entertainment, art, commerce and recreation.
Pro-Tem Casseday agreed to move forward with the proposal.
Council authorized the transfer of $150,000 in Airport Improvement Funds from the Greeley-Weld County Airport to the Wray Municipal Airport.
Council approved an Intergovernmental Agreement with Weld County School District 6 concerning funding for a Manufacturing Career Pathway Facility.
Council authorized the Mayor of the City of Greeley to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement with Weld County allowing him to participate in Weld County’s November 6, 2018, General Election.
A date was set for a public hearing and final reading on the decision whether or not to authorize the City of Greeley to acquire interests in real property located in Weld County for the use of sanitary sewer lines by purchase or exercise of the power of eminent domain. The public hearing and final reading was set for the next Greeley City Council meeting, August 21, 2018.
A date was set for a public hearing and final reading on the decision whether or not to authorize the Mayor and City Clerk to transfer three units of water of the Norther Colorado Water Conservancy District to the City of Louisville. The public hearing and final reading was set for the next Greeley City Council meeting, August 21, 2018.
All of the above items on tonight’s consent agenda were approved by a 6-0 vote.
Public Hearings/Final Readings
The first public hearing and final hearing of the night included a presentation by Brad Mueller, Greeley’s Community Development Director. Community Development, it was said, has been working for the last year on changes to wording and some regulations in Greeley Municipal Code. The changes proposed include entirely removing Section 18.46.210 of Greeley Municipal Code and adding a new chapter—Chapter 18.60. Mueller said this move was being made in an effort to reflect changes in state and federal laws (these changes first began in 2014, when the FCC rolled out a plan meant to help accelerate the construction of a nationwide wireless network infrastructure—just as was done with landlines years ago). The feeling that these changes would help improve service was shared by everyone, but there was a disagreement when it came to City design standards. In particular, one network provider was pushing for allowing what are known as “small cell facilities” to be built a few feet higher in certain residential areas than would be acceptable given current Greeley regulations (Greeley Municipal Code 18.38.030(j), 18.38.040(j), 18.38.050(j), 18.38.060(j) and 18.38.080(j)). Small cell facilities are small-scale antenna towers meant to help contribute to the federal government’s push for the country to have universal coverage. The provider argued that making this exception would help them in the federal government’s goal of having reliable, high-speed coverage everywhere in the U.S.
Once the Community Development Director finished, Pro-Tem Casseday opened the floor to public input. First to speak was Mark Williams, a Verizon representative out of Denver. Williams said the way he read the proposed changes no new facilities higher than 30 feet would be allowed and no facilities will be allowed five feet above the nearest pole. Williams asked that the Council consider allowing facilities be as high as 38-48 feet. The height extension, Williams said, would allow Verizon to provide better service because transmissions (to antennas inside small cell facilities) would be less likely to be blocked if they stood higher than 30 feet. He also asked that the size of the antenna enclosure be 24 instead of 18 inches wide to cut down on the height while maintaining capability.
Pro-Tem Casseday then asked the Community Development Director to step back up to the podium and respond to Williams’ issues. Mueller, in response to Williams and Verizon, said, “we respectfully disagree with those suggestions.” Mueller gave multiple reasons for why Community Development staff disagreed, such as aesthetics, history of cases the office has worked on in the past and the belief that 30 feet would be able to provide plenty of coverage. The Community Development Director also pointed to the fact that nothing in any proposed or current regulations would stop any company from building a small cell facility higher than 30 feet. In such circumstance, the company would just have to get a Use by Special Review (USR) permit if it wanted to construct its equipment higher than 30 feet.
As far as allowing the width of the small cell facilities to be expanded, Mueller said he disagreed with this as well. The argument against the expansion was that it would, according to Mueller, compromise the point of the design—to look sleek and fit in with surrounding design features.
Councilmember Fitzsimmons was then allowed to ask Verizon representative Mark Williams a question. Fitzsimmons asked how the height of small cell facilities would affect complaints of lack of sufficient service. Williams said that during times of large crowd events, such as the Greeley Stampede, people are more likely to experience slower data speeds. The desire, then, of Verizon is to come in and put up small cell facilities that would cut down on the workload of the larger, more traditional towers that can be seen from miles away. Small cell facilities would isolate transmissions to a smaller area, thereby cutting down on the distance signals would need to travel while providing stronger, more reliable coverage in places that would otherwise have to depend on a single distant tower. Williams said that at 38-48 feet small cell facilities perform a lot better and that this height would also makes the transition to newer technologies, such as 5G, much easier as many 5G antennas will need to be stacked on top of current 4G antennas.
Steve Keats then approached the podium for his three minutes of public input. Keats complained that some of the designs looked a little “ugly.” He agreed with the City’s Community Development Director, saying structures above 30 feet “would stick out like a sore thumb” in many communities.
Steven Grant spoke next. Grant is pastor at Destiny Christian Center which operates a low-power FM radio station. The concern of Grant’s was with how the new tower regulations would impact radio hobbyists. Mueller would later answer that FM radio towers are allowed specifically under federal regulations.
Grant closed with saying he was in favor of the taller small cell facilities Verizon was advocating for. The reasoning behind this opinion, for Grant, was that Greeley isn’t exactly as flat as people think, that there are slopes and rises in our terrain that will affect the ability for transmissions to pass freely to towers and small cell facilities.
Bill Gillard was then allowed time for input. In Gillard’s opinion, the city should simply use the 30-foot standard but equip structures with the ability to add another 8 feet if needed. That way, Gillard reasoned, if code changed to taller than 30 feet, all of the City’s poles and other applicable structures would be easily converted to the additional heights Verizon was asking for.
Oliver Boudreaux was last to speak. Boudreaux said he agreed with the Verizon representative purely based on the fact that 4G and 5G coverage is nearly non-existent in certain areas of Greeley (Boudreaux cited south 35th Avenue and northwest 4th Street areas).
The Community Development Director was then called back up to the podium to answer questions that had been asked and additional questions from Council.
Councilmember Fitzsimmons asked if 30 feet would be enough “for residents to get the service that they need.” Mueller said that it will depend on geography and existing service. To give a better answer, Mueller called upon the City’s outside counsel, Ken Fellman of Kissinger & Fellman, for further explanation. Fellman said he didn’t believe the regulation needed to be expanded beyond 30 feet because no other provider besides Verizon had objections over this regulation. It was only Verizon who wanted this exception.
The next question for Mueller came from Councilmember Suniga. Suniga wanted to know how the City would avoid giving special preference to one provider over another. If for one or two providers there is no problem with service in an area, Suniga reasoned, but another provider is experiencing trouble providing service, how would the City determine that it’s an issue of transmission and not an issue with the company itself. Mueller pointed to the City’s regulations that encourage co-location (multiple providers sharing one location for their towers and antennas). If companies share locations, not only does this cut down on building costs for these companies but it also assures that companies are all on a level playing field.
Councilmember Suniga sought further clarification on the entire subject, stating, “I’m not sure I’m very clear . . . if we do something we want to do it so that it’s the best service for our residents.” Suniga admitted “I feel a little bit torn myself.” Suniga said she’d like more information but continued to ponder whether the City would be denying residents needed technological advancements in order to simply preserve residential designs.
Mueller, in his answer to Suniga, referred back to the fact that Verizon was the only company with concerns over the height, and he encouraged the Council to consider this context in their deliberation.
Public input was then closed.
Pro-Tem Casseday opened up discussion and action to the Council. Councilmember Payton entered a motion to adopt the ordinance, which was seconded by Councilmember Hall. Councilmember Payton and Pro-Tem Casseday made short speeches before votes were to be cast. Pro-Tem Casseday made clear that nothing in the ordinances would stop Verizon and any other providers from building higher than 30 feet, they would just have to go through a special process in order to do so.
Councilmember Smail spoke up just before vote. Smail said that he agreed with Mueller mainly because of the fact that the USR process “creates a focused study on a single site. So instead of creating a blanket, ‘Hey, let’s do 40'+ whatever,’ it forces the client to bring their best product forward in the best location that makes sense to them.”
Vote was then taken and the ordinance was adopted by a vote of 6-0.
The next public hearing and final reading involved changing Greeley’s official zoning map. Community Development Director Brad Mueller was at the podium presenting again. Mueller said Community Development was requesting permission to rezone the site at 5401 9thStreet (Greeley Guest House) from Planned Unit Development (PUD) to Commercial Low Intensity (C-L). Mueller clarified that “no actual change in use is being proposed at this time.” The only thing that would be changing would be the increase in types of uses that would be allowed under the new zoning. Community Development agreed with the owner of the property and found that certain City zoning criteria (Greeley Municipal Code 18.30.050(3)(a)) would be met.
The owner’s motivation for seeking this change was due to profit decline. Greeley Guest House is a Bed & Breakfast, and in between the years 2015-2017 the Bed & Breakfast market experienced a 26% profit decline, according to Stephanie Hanson, representative for the owner of the property. This has mainly been due to the recent popularity of companies like Airbnb.
Currently, the property is zoned for Bed & Breakfast only, and the owner would like to expand the options for types of businesses that can operate on this property. The owner plans to sell the property and the change in zoning would increase the number of potential buyers and thereby the likelihood the property will be sold.
A public hearing on the matter was then opened. No one spoke, though, and the public hearing was closed.
The changes were then passed by a 6-0 Council vote.
The next hearing and final reading was to adopt a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for Greeley Police. Sharon McCabe, Human Relations Director, took to the podium. McCabe said a tentative agreement had been reached between the City negotiating team and the negotiating team for the Greeley Police Officers Association. This new contract would last from January 1, 2019, through December 31, 2021. The first change agreed to would cover wages. This change would include a 6% increase for 2019, a 4.5% increase for 2020 and 2% increase for 2021. The total amount of the increases would be $2,008,278 or 12.9% over this three-year period. Another agreement reached between the two parties was to increase paid meal breaks from 30 to 45 minutes. Dates by which holiday hours must be used or forfeited would be adjusted, and the amount paid for funeral expenses in the event of a line-of-duty death would be increased from $10,000 to $20,000.
Council had no questions of staff.
Time for public input was then given. No one took the opportunity to speak. Public input was closed.
Motion was made and seconded, but before vote Pro-Tem Casseday commented, “we’ve had many months of negations and discussions with the Police Union and this isn’t the first time we’ve heard any of these number as a Council.” Casseday was referring to recent publicity about how fast the Council seems to handle such items. “Many, many hours of deliberation,” Casseday said, “go into these negotiations . . . many hours and lots of people.”
The ordinance was then adopted by a 6-0 vote.
The last public hearing and final reading of the night was to adopt a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with Greeley Firefighters Local 888. McCabe said a tentative agreement had also been reached between the City negotiating team and the negotiating team for the Greeley Firefighters Local 888. This new contract would last from January 1, 2019, through December 31, 2020. The first change agreed to was over wages. The increases agreed to would be 5% for 2019 and 4% for 2020. The total for the two-year increases would come to $1,152,000 or a 9.2% increase. The two parties, McCabe said, also agreed to adjusting the dates by which leave must be used or forfeited, a maximum compensation time increase from 60 to 72 hours and an increase in City-paid coverage for survivors of those who are killed in the line of duty from 3 to 12 months.
Time for public input was then given. No one spoke and public input was closed.
Pro-Tem Casseday thanked City staff and all those apart of Greeley Firefighters Local 888.
Vote was then taken and the contract was adopted by a 6-0 vote.