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City Administrator details the City Council agenda for Monday’s meeting

City of Ferndale Public Works Directory Kevin Renz addresses the City Council (June 3, 2019). Photo: My Ferndale News

The following letter to members of the Ferndale City Council is provided courtesy of Ferndale City Administrator Jori Burnett. It is regarding the Ferndale City Council meeting agenda for the regular meeting scheduled for 6pm, Monday, August 19th. The public is welcome to attend.

As noted, a City Council work session is scheduled for 5:30pm, just before the regular meeting.

Councilmembers –

Your agenda for Monday night is as follows:

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Work Session (5:30-6pm): Thornton Extension Wall Finishes. Please note the 5:30 start time; the original session was scheduled to begin earlier. As perhaps the most visible capital project that the City will construct, the outward appearance of the wall (the wall finish) of this project is very important. The ultimate decision on the finish will not be made until bids for the project are received and costs are more clearly known, but the Council is asked to identify those finishes that should be put out to bid.

Since there is such a variety of potential finishes, in early August the City Council asked the Arts Commission to review a number of options and to provide its recommendation to the Council. This is one of the essential roles of boards and commissions, where these volunteer community members are able to take the time to review and discuss options, and to narrow those options for Council’s review. The delegation of review allows the City Council to concentrate its efforts on making a decision.

The Arts Commission met on August 14th and has pared down the options and provided their recommendations for which options should be let out to bid. Capital Projects Manager Katy Radder together with representatives of the Arts Commission will present the Commission’s recommendation for the Council. A formal direction from Council is requested as Item F of the regular agenda.

Item A: Public Comment

Item B: Consent Agenda, including approval of August 5th Council Meeting Minutes, August 5th payroll, approval of July 2019 claims.

– Surplus Resolution. The Finance and Administration Committee has placed a resolution to surplus certain police radio equipment on the consent agenda. The equipment was purchased seven years ago utilizing a Stonegarden grant. Technology has outpaced the service life of this equipment, and it is no longer being used. Due to the relatively low remaining value of the equipment, the City is authorized to surplus it.

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– Parks, Recreation, and Trails Advisory Board (PRTAB) appointment. Mayor Mutchler has nominated Todd McKernan to serve on the Parks Board. Mr. McKernan, a City resident, has applied for the position.

– Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) Grant Awards. The City is authorized by the state of Washington to collect and distribute funds resulting from the City’s lodging tax to organizations, events, and other purposes that are related to tourism and tourism promotion. The LTAC is tasked with reviewing funding requests each year, and for making a recommendation to the City Council as to how to distribute those funds. The funds to be distributed in 2019 are projected to be less than 2018, which means that the LTAC was forced to make a number of choices in order to effectively distribute the available funds.

Item C: Capital Projects Update – Capital Projects Manager Katy Radder will provide the regular update on current and future capital projects.

Item D: FCS Group, Revenue Requirements – the FCS Group, the City’s utility rate consultant, will present the revenue requirements for the City’s primary utilities (water, sewer, stormwater). Following the collection of data, a review of capital projects over the next decade and beyond, a calculation of secured outside funding, and an analysis of other City needs, the FCS group will describe the revenue that the City must generate to complete these critical projects. At this point in the utility study process, FCS’ conclusions related to the revenue requirements are primarily mathematical, rather than policy-oriented. It is now possible, however, to better understand the range of the utility rate increases that will be required. As the rate study analysis continues, the City Council will have the opportunity later this fall to explore alternative rate structures that will still allow the City to meet these revenue requirements.

Item E: Public Hearing, Residential Multifamily Phase 3 Ordinance – Community Development Director Haylie Miller will present an ordinance that would rezone two areas of the City from Residential Office (RO) and Residential Multifamily (RM 1.5) to Residential Multifamily High (RMH) and Residential Multifamily Medium (RMM). A public hearing has been scheduled.

As part of the 2016 Comprehensive Plan, the City identified the need to restructure its existing multifamily zones, which were based upon a 1970’s-era model that did not and could not address the variety of regulatory, aesthetic, environmental, and market-based trends that have evolved over the last four decades. The City has since adopted the RMM and RMH zones, for the purpose of replacing the older RO and RM 1.5 designations. Now that the text of these new zones has been approved, it is now time to change the designation of individual properties.

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One of the areas under consideration on Monday night is on the north side of Trigg Road, east of Portal Way. The property is considered fully developed at this time, and the zoning change (from RO to RMH) is not expected to have a measurable impact on the existing development, or on future potential development.

The rezone is thus primarily intended to remove the older zone from the map, to be replaced with the zone that best corresponds to the existing development. The second area under consideration is north of Shields Road, in the vicinity of Smith Road. In fact, the proposed rezone is proposed on one property, converting the zoning designation from RM 1.5 to Residential Multifamily – Medium. The property itself consists of extensive wetlands and elevation change over the majority of the lot, with the most-developable area on the south end of the property. It is anticipated that a land use application to develop the property will be submitted in the relatively near future. Several property owners in the adjacent subdivisions have expressed concern that the proposed rezone would result in additional impacts to their property and the existing subdivisions.

It is important for the City Council to note that the property is currently zoned for multifamily uses; the proposed rezone would not change the type of uses that are already allowed, and the densities possible in the current and proposed future zone are likely quite similar. Depending upon the scale of development that may ultimately be proposed by the property owner, these neighbors will likely be afforded the opportunity to comment on the proposed development through the City’s SEPA process or potentially through a public hearing before the Hearings Examiner. But the current proposal is not a discussion of a specific development, and it is somewhat premature to speculate what a future development proposal may consist of, when it may be submitted, or the mitigation measures that may be required.

With that said, the public hearing will provide invaluable insight into the concerns and hopes of the surrounding neighborhood. This will help to inform Staff’s ultimate review of any development proposal, and will ideally lead (if the rezone is approved) to the future applicant considering ways to address some or all of the concerns raised by neighbors.

Item F: Design Selection, Thornton Overpass Wall Finish – Capital Projects Manager Katy Radder will return to the stand to discuss the Arts Commission’s recommendations for the Thornton Overpass wall finish. A formal direction from the City Council is requested; please note the 5:30 work session scheduled prior to the regular Council meeting.

Item G: Resolution Denouncing White Supremacy – the City Council is asked to pass a resolution denouncing white supremacy. Recently a number of flyers were posted in Downtown Ferndale promoting a viewpoint that is abhorrent to the vast majority of Ferndale’s citizens. The resolution is intended to memorialize the community’s position that such views and activities are not only not consistent, but are contradictory and potentially destructive to the goals, aspirations, and beliefs of this community.

Item H: Resolution, Revised Department of Ecology Loan (Waste Water Treatment Plant) – the Washington State Department of Ecology has expanded its loan offer from $14,542,784 at a low (2 %) interest rate, to $28,557,000 at the same rate. Staff anticipates that this loan will fully fund the waste water treatment plant (sewer plant) expansion, at a significant cost savings compared to seeking funding from the bond market.

Public Works Director Kevin Renz, Finance Director Sirke Salminen, and Public Utilities Superintendent Mike Olinger began working with Ecology in 2016 to secure this funding. Ecology was recently able to divert additional resources from projects in other jurisdictions that could not meet construction deadlines.

The FCS utility rate study has anticipated this loan, and no modifications to the assumptions within the study are anticipated as a result.

A Council action to approve a resolution accepting the loan will allow Public Works Director Renz and Treatment Plant Operator Olinger to move forward with the construction of the facility, with the bid process commencing as early as this fall.

Item I-L: Mayor, Council, and Department Reports; Committee Minutes

Item M: Executive Session: RCW 42.30.110(f)


Finally, some thoughts on the proposed resolution denouncing white supremacy. Over the last two weeks I, and I am sure all of Council, staff, and most of our community members have seen or experienced the range of emotions resulting from the racist flyers that were posted in Ferndale. We’ve seen everything from casual acceptance of these flyers and the attitudes that they reflect, to shocked indignation, hurt, and the desire to do something, to do anything.

And we’ve seen legitimate questions asking what a resolution from a small city council could do to change the hate in some people’s hearts, and how a resolution would meaningfully support those that would make it their life’s work to oppose racism, or to soothe the wounds of those hurt by racism. What can a resolution do? Is a resolution simply words on a piece of paper? A feel-good gesture? A naïve desire to try to legislate love or at least compassion – rather than hate? Maybe.

But a resolution can do something: the fact that a significant percentage (hopefully the vast majority) of our population were shocked by these flyers means that we have not become accustomed to these attitudes. And a resolution expressing that shock, standing up to this hate may help to prevent the community from becoming normalized to these attitudes. This should be shocking, shouldn’t it? And shouldn’t we as a community, via a resolution such as this, be able to express that? To stand up and call out these viewpoints as being inconsistent with what our community aspires to be? And to be ready to do so again?

No, a resolution such as this may not change minds. But it can help to remind us that our community pulls together and will not allow hate to be normalized. A resolution may simply point out something that we already know – but sometimes, that’s what we need. We are Ferndale, and we are known for our pride – not other people’s hate.

See you Monday – Jori

The public is encouraged to attend City Council meetings. They are held on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month at 6pm in Council Chambers at the City Hall Annex at 5694 2nd Avenue.

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