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Council sets standards for decorum, approves ex-officio

Jacob Rice
Ames City Council member Tim Gartin watches a presentation on Jan. 24.

The Ames City Council passed standards of decorum for community members in attendance following past direction from the council to city staff for revisions and public input.

The standards:

  • Empower the chairperson to limit the time a speaker has to address the council, as well as interpret, enforce or modify the standard to their discretion.
  • Limit the topics of discussion at public input to those regarding city policy and business, while also barring “profane, obscene or slanderous language [or the engagement of] personal attacks against city officials or members of the public.”
  • Limit public input to only those who speak from the podium; bar public input from the gallery.
  • Allow members of the public to approach the dais only to share materials.
  • Limit audience members from standing on tables or chairs, but allow them to stand as long as they are not obstructing the view of other members in the audience.
  • Bar signs from containing profane, obscene or slanderous content, as well as content that personally attacks city officials or members of the public.
  • Require attendees to wear clothing and footwear that are “worn in a manner that is respectful of the proceedings and of others,” adding that “attire must be worn so as to not distract from, interfere with or obstruct the proceedings or other attendees.”
  • Require phones and other devices to be silenced, and ask attendees to avoid side conversations.

“I want to thank staff for putting a more positive spin on these and for enabling people to interact with us rather than kind of shutting down some of that interaction,” Ward 1 Rep. Gloria Betcher said. “I think the direction that it went, where we enable the contributions of the residents but within guidelines, is a positive step forward with the articulation of the guidelines.”

The council moved to take no action on a request from the developers of the Ansley Subdivision, Steve and Anne Burgason. The request is in regard to a requirement for them to pave roughly 700 feet of Cedar Lane adjacent to their development in the project’s future phases.

Iowa State University is responsible for paying half of the cost of repaving due to owning portions of land near Cedar Lane, with the developers being responsible for the other half.

The council had the option to either amend their agreement with the developer to allow them to submit a new plat for consideration that would not specify an obligation for paving Cedar Lane, or they could have amusement the financial responsibility for the developers. Betcher moved for the council to take no action.

“My reason for doing that is not to make this an incredibly long, drawn-out process, but for us to have that discussion about what we consider pioneer infrastructure to be and if it means something different in a situation like this where we do have those trade-offs of sustainability that may fit with our climate action plan,” Betcher said.

Ward 4 Rep. Rachel Junck echoed Betcher’s sentiments, adding that with the replacing phase of the project being years away, the council can take its time on making a decision with such precedent.

At-Large Rep. Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen shared similar sentiments with the council.

“We will absolutely get more requests for assistance on residential developments,” Beatty-Hansen said. “We, as council, need to have those discussions about what we will incentivize and to what level before we start doing it.”

Ward 2 Rep. Tim Gartin moved for the council to assume the cost, but the motion ultimately failed.

“We are sentencing this project to be a higher expense,” Gartin said. “You can kick the can down the road, but you, council, have made this project more expensive by doing that. The sooner we pay this, the better off we’re going to be.”

The council moved to approve a preliminary plat for 4098 East 13th St. so long as they are within city standards to add an extension for an offsite sanitary sewer.

The plat is to be divided into two lots: the first lot for two warehouses to be used at distribution centers and the second for future development.

The council moved to rezone the property at 102 and 106 N Hyland Ave. to neighborhood commercial for expansion of a non-conforming use and site improvements.

The property, currently the home of Campus Garage, was considered urban corridor zoning, barring the owners from providing commercial parking.

Shelly Mathre, owner of the property and shop, said he intends to use the new guidelines to pave their overflow parking—an aspect of the site that was non-compliant with the previous zoning designation.

Mayor of Ames John Haila expressed gratitude towards Mathre’s desire to improve the lot.

“Thank you for wanting to make this a better place and tearing down an old house and taking care of it and pledging to council that you want to take care of landscaping and make it look nice,” Haila said.

The council moved to grant the developer’s request and allow the construction of a shared-use path for the Auburn Trail Subdivision, located at 4605 and 4514 Hyde Ave.

Prior to the council’s decision, the path was set to be installed by Feb. 22, 2024, but under the motions passed, the set of installations is to be two years after a first final play on the west side of Hyde Avenue is approved.

The council also moved to approve a conceptual plan, which would potentially endow the city with two parcels of land to be used for a water well field.

The land, which is yet to be determined, is to be somewhere between the Hunziker Youth Sports Complex and the prospective I-35 East Well Field.

The council also approved the nomination of Jeff Clark, a junior majoring in finance and accounting, as ex-officio following a nomination from the Iowa State Student Government.

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    Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen | Sep 13, 2023 at 7:54 pm

    That is not what I said! I did NOT say that I didn’t like the Ansley project. I said that I DO like the project, but I want to be fair and consistent about how we offer financial incentives.