January 2016 Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting

My first post on the new 2nd ward website! I’ll be chairing the first 2016 meeting of the Council’s Planning and Economic Development committee this Wednesday, January 13th at 6pm in Council Chambers. It’s a whopper of an agenda. Here’s a quick run down of the meeting:

Voting to send on to February Council meeting (Wednesday, February 3rd at 6pm in Council Chambers):

  • Changes to Commons Ordinance – we’re making some non-substantive tweaks to the Commons rules that we passed last year. See agenda for more info. Shouldn’t be controversial.
  • Changes to Exterior Property Maintenance Ordinance – The Exterior Property Maintenance Ordinance (or “EPMO” in City Hall parlance) requires that city properties meet certain standards: no overgrown lawns, no discarded trash in the front yard, no snow-impeded sidewalks, no bags of garbage left on porches, etc. The ordinance has produced a lot of frustration. The exorbitant fines and delayed notification periods have proven to be a major hassle for city residents and property owners. We’re proposing to reduce the fines and improve the notification system. These changes are long overdue. In fact, four years ago, when I was a reporter at the Ithaca Times, I wrote an article on this very issue. Among other things, it’s an interesting case of a future Council member quoting a future Mayor!
  • Discontinuation of Lake Ave and Adams Street – we’re discontinuing a public street. INHS is going to maintain it as a public thoroughfare as part of their 210 Hancock project. Requires Council action.
  • Changes to Taxicab Ordinance – another one that’s been in the works for a while. Our current rate structure for taxicab fares is complicated and confusing. This legislation would establish a standard fare within city limits and also provide set fares for destinations outside city limits, like the hospital and the airport. See the agenda for more info.
  • Changes to Community Investment Incentive Tax Abatement Program (CIITAP) – our ongoing attempt to reform the city’s tax abatement policy. Here’s a good overview.

Voting to “circulate” (basically this means that we send a proposal out to the public for feedback; the proposal will come back to the committee next month for further consideration):

  • Temporary Mandatory Planned Unit Development for the Waterfront – kind of a mouthful. Basically this would create a special “planned unit development” zone that would give Common Council more oversight on any potential development that happens on the Waterfront. The Waterfront is a critical area, and we want to make sure that future development fits with our comprehensive plan. See the agenda for more info.
  • Proposal to Reduce Cell Tower Fall Zone – the city has received a request to reduce our cell tower fall zone to make room for a development on South Hill. Currently, the fall zone is twice the height of the tower. It appears this might be higher than is standard practice in other cities. The question is whether we want to reduce it. See the agenda for more info.

Again, here’s a link to the agenda. You can watch a live stream of the meeting here. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact me at jmurtagh@cityofithaca.org. Thanks!
– Seph