Thursday, January 31, 2013

Council Meeting Notes: Jan. 15, 2013

Mayor Hopkins called the meeting to order at 7:01pm. Councilmember Hardin was excused. The agenda and Nov. 20, 2012 and Dec. 4, 2012 minutes were approved with no changes.  

Staff Reports
Police: Chief Kunkel announced that Sgt. Lawless is joining the Tacoma Police Department and on January 8th he appointed Vic Cellis as the new sergeant. There is one out of state applicant available for lateral transfer under consideration. The chief then outlined last month’s calls. Hedrick asked if the officers were using the new decimal meter. It is in use, but they are waiting for clarification from the mayor and the attorney.

Fire: Chief Torbet highlighted the hundreds on volunteer hours given last month. He noted they are losing one fire fighter, but they have three applicants for the vacancy. Torbet said they had hundreds of donations for toy and food drive in December. He is still working on getting the new-to-Ruston radios from Tacoma Fire. The chief then outlined training planned, including the CPR training available to local residents. The mayor thanked him and the department for saving his friend’s life with the CPR training. Torbet felt that incident was one of the highlights of his career and noted that many lives were changed for the better that day.

Public Comment
John Mace, wanted to see resolution to Stack Hill development issues.

1. Hannah Aoyagi, Ph.D. – Tacoma Smelter Plume Update: Ms. Aoyagi from the State Department of Ecology introduced project manager Amy Hargrove and 4 others. Hargrove let everyone know their project is in the final design phase with public comment coming soon. The state program is different from the federal EPA yard replacement project: 1) it is a statewide program, 2) it is voluntary with only one chance to participate and 3) the state has a 100ppm arsenic action level instead of 230ppm. They hope to do 15 homes in Tacoma this year. The process for yards in Ruston will begin with a review of the EPA sampling results to see if the property qualifies. The owner then gets a letter and would have to allow the work. Ecology then meets with owner before the construction contractor meets with them. All the EPA sample results are in a public database. Ecology will use a weighted average of arsenic and lead in the 0-6” layer, then look at 6-12" layer. Any overall yard averaging above 90 parts per million (ppm) arsenic or 500ppm lead or single subunit average over 200ppm arsenic or 1,000ppm lead at those depths would be replaced. The lowest priority are those yards with clean soil down to 6 inches. If the top 12 inches was replaced with clean soil, no further action will be taken. The initial priority is yards where no EPA action was done. The homeowner must agree, and remove sheds, trees and such if they want soil in those areas to be replaced. Ecology plans to offer changes to the yard that include more native plants, rain gardens and other environmentally friendly ideas. Public comment on the design is expected in March. They are also working with Metro Parks for additional cleanups at Point Defiance and Jane Clark parks.

Councilmember Hedrick confirmed the cleanup was voluntary and funded thru Asarco settlement funds. He confirmed cleanup standards as compared to EPA and that the state has the authority to redo a federal cleanup. He asked why the state standards are more stringent. Hargrove said the EPA decision was 20 years ago and that other cleanups around the nation have a lower standard. Ecology felt there was still risk out there and new people might want a lower cleanup level. Hedrick wanted to know if there would be any stigma from this new standard. Ecology said they are not putting anything on property titles, but the work would be listed in the public database. It was noted that the state cleanup extends way beyond EPA Study Area. Councilmember Hunt confirmed who has sample results listed in the database and explained her understanding of the EPA program. Councilmember Kristovich had personal questions and took a phone number to call later. Mayor Hopkins was glad to see progress.

2. Ordinance 1392 – Noxious Weeds (1st Reading): The attorney explained that under state law the city can only enforce removal of certain noxious weeds. This change to Ruston code gives more specific details and outlines the process so it can be enforced. Hunt wanted a warning about enforcing this published in the town newsletter.

3. Ordinance 1394 – Weight Limits for Streets (1st Reading): Ruston already restricts heavy truck traffic on some streets. This change adds several streets and makes city code consistent with state law. The city engineer wanted to add the same restrictions on N. 52nd and 53rd from Pearl to Bennett Street (which was approved and added). There are exemptions allowed for emergency vehicles, city trucks, school buses or you can apply for an exemption if needed. Kristovich confirmed that the park district or anyone using 54th Street must have exemptions granted (including all the Point Ruston construction work). Hunt confirmed Ruston owned all of 51st Street and must pay all maintenance costs.

4. Resolution 534 – Assignment of Electrical Consultant Contract: This agreement keeps the same electrical engineer, who is now with new employer. Approved 4-0 with no discussion.

5. Resolution 535 – Code Enforcement, Environmental Review Contract: Approved 4-0 with no discussion.

6. Resolution 536 – Radio Maintenance Contract: Approved 4-0 with no discussion.

7. Ordinance 1382 – COMP-P Zoning Map and Text Amendment (1st Reading): The change from commercial zone to Commercial Pearl zone (COMP-P) effects only one building lot and was initiated by the property owner. The mayor asked for disclosure of any appearance of fairness issues or exparte contact on the issue from council members and asked the audience if there were any challenges on that issue. There were none. Planner Rob White outlined the history, including details about the planning commission public hearing on this issue. The changes include correcting type-o’s in the code, updating lighting standards, changing this one lot from commercial to commercial-Pearl zone and updating the map with several recent changes.

Hunt recalled a prior approval for upgrading the old Coles tavern and felt only that plan should be approved. The planner clarified this change is a different property. Hunt only wanted the higher limits allowed on Pearl Street, not 51st. Planning commission chair Kevin Moser noted that the amenities required in the Comp P zone are not required in the regular commercial zone, so it made sense to extend the same look and feel one lot down 51st Street.

Claims and Payroll, approved 4-0 with no discussion.

Mayor’s Time
Hopkins said that Commercial Street will be without street lights for 10 days as electrical lines are undergrounded. A resident asked for a place on the town web page to make donations to fire department, so he is looking into that. He met on new electrical meters recently and the issue will be coming before the council for approval in the next 60 days.

Council Time
Hedrick expressed mixed emotions about Sgt. Lawless leaving. He is an outstanding officer and he is sorry to lose him. Hedrick thanked him for service to Ruston.

Hunt had no comment.

Kristovich had no comment.

Judd had no comment.

The meeting adjourned at 8:02pm.


Jim said...

Living with a toxic legacy? A lot better than hordes of bureaucrats on the back of the long suffering citizens.
Scientific studies have shown small amounts of these substances are beneficial to plants and humans.
Please please keep us posted on these so called hearings.

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