Monster Steamboat Springs City Council agenda clocks in at 908 pages. Here are the ‘CliffsNotes’:
February 3, 2017
Steamboat Springs — If you have a weekend ritual of cozying up with a good Steamboat Springs City Council agenda, it might be a good idea to start that ritual a little earlier this weekend.
Make that a lot earlier.
Tuesday's agenda packet clocks in at 908 pages, and it took this reporter five minutes and two seconds to download and open it on a computer.
By comparison, not even the longest book in the Harry Potter series (Order of the Phoenix, 870 pages) has more pages to turn.
The council agenda ultimately clocks in somewhere between the classic “Ulysses” and “War and Peace.”
Don't have the time to read the council's latest novel this weekend?
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Here's my breakdown of the highlights:
Tidying up the apartment
An Old Town resident sued the city and the council after the council approved a controversial apartment project at 1125 Lincoln Avenue that needed several variances from city code for its height and density.
The plaintiff alleged that the city broke rules and didn't follow proper procedures when it approved the project.
The judge in the case also has taken issue with how the council approved the project, saying the city's elected officials failed to lay out the facts and findings that supported the endorsement of the apartments.
On Tuesday, the council will try to address those concerns by possibly adopting a resolution that lays out those facts and findings that led them to approve the 60-unit project.
The public will be able to comment on the resolution.
City Attorney Dan Foote has cautioned the council and the community that the purpose of Tuesday's vote is not to reconsider the approval of the project.
But Foote acknowledged that, if the council doesn't approve the resolution, the judge could overturn the decision herself.
Code of ethics rewrite
2016 was a bumpy year for the council on the topic of ethics.
A proposal to update and clarify the council's code of ethics comes in the wake of a few controversies, including the council's previous decision to call dibs on free concert tickets and VIP passes donated to the city.
The new rules will to bring more clarity to what constitutes a conflict of interest and which gifts, such as tickets to events, the council can and cannot receive.
The updated code also outlines a procedure for penalizing council members who violate the rules.
Raise your right hand
Should citizens and interested parties have to take an oath before providing testimony at planning-related hearings? The city has only sworn in people in the past if the planning hearings were contentious or if an interested party requested it.
But in the wake of a lawsuit against the city and council challenging their approval of a controversial apartment project, a judge took issue with the city not swearing in all witnesses.
That's because the city's rules call for the witnesses to be sworn in.
The city has been swearing in witnesses at its other quasi-judicial hearings, such as liquor license proceedings.
But it has shied away from doing it at planning hearings due to a concern that it might be intimidating and dissuade some public participation.
A new proposal before the council would only require that oaths be taken if an interested party requests it.
Have statue. Will give to city
The disbandment of a Public Art Board has left the city unable to accept requests to place new pieces of public art on city property.
The council could take a step Tuesday to end this moratorium by moving forward with a new policy that would give the city and a new body of art professionals the ability to vet requests.
The new policy could require that new art come with endowments, so pieces can be regularly maintained.
Tuesday's agenda packet includes a comprehensive accounting of all 56 pieces of public art on city lands.
Many are in need of maintenance and cleaning.
City Manager Gary Suiter's manager's report is often chock full of interesting tidbits about the inner workings of the city. His update this week includes an eye-catching blurb titled, "Incivility." He writes incivility has been a growing issue with the treatment of city employees, and he's looking into getting some training for city employees who regularly deal with "uncivil, rude and vulgar treatment from citizens and visitors."
Suiter is also looking into what policies other cities have to address incivility from residents and visitors.