A busy Chewelah City Council adopted several measures to address nuisances, replace the planning commission with a Hearing Examiner, and extend the financing for the new shop building on the west end of town at its regular meeting last Wednesday evening, August 3. Councilman John Wight was absent.
Ordinance #900 establishes a Hearing Examiner system to “make quasi-judicial decisions on land use applications, hear appeals, and provide recommendations to City Council on land use proposals.” The Hearing Examiner will replace the former Planning Commission which the council voted to abolish last August. The Planning Commission had been made up of six to eight citizen volunteers that were appointed by the Mayor but, in recent years, had trouble finding volunteers to fill open spots.
Although a Hearing Examiner has not yet been hired, City Administrator Mike Frizzell indicated after the meeting that the position will likely be contracted on an as-needed basis. He said the city is exploring the possibility of using the City of Spokane’s Hearing Examiner. The City of Cheney currently contracts with Spokane at a rate of $125 per hour, according to Frizzell.
Ordinance #900 passed unanimously.
Ordinance #901 will revise the city’s nuisance ordinance by eliminating language that specifically identifies public nuisances. Instead, the new ordinance gives the city’s enforcement officer broader authority to define nuisances as situations that “… generally create a menace to the health and welfare of the public” or conditions that are “… disorderly, disturbing, unsafe, unsanitary …”
Other provisions of the existing nuisance law, such as notice, abatement, and penalties are left largely intact. Violators are subject to penalties of up to $500 per day.
Ordinance #901 passed unanimously.
The full text of ordinances and the city’s municipal code can be viewed at City Hall or online at cityofchewelah.org.
The council also voted to extend the repayment of an interfund loan that was used to finance the construction of the city’s new shop building on the west end of town.
Last October, the council had authorized the city’s general fund to borrow $315,000 from the water fund and $105,000 from the electric fund in order to help pay for the new shop construction and associated facility consolidation expenses totaling $819,000. Proceeds from the sale of surplus city properties were expected to be sufficient to repay the loans by the end of 2017 with monthly payments of $17,535 but, according to the adopted resolution, “revenue from the sale of properties … has not been generated within the originally anticipated timeframe.”
Although three properties have sold for $540,000 combined, $315,149 remains to be paid on the loans. The sold properties include the old shop on 3rd St. E for $140,000; the old water department building on Main Ave. for $185,000; and the library building for $215,000.
Five more property sales are expected to generate as much as $297,800, according to Frizzell. Those properties include two parcels on Sand Canyon Road, two parcels in the Pinebrook neighborhood, and one parcel on 2nd St. W. The two parcels on Sand Canyon were offered for sale last month by sealed bid, but did not sell. Frizzell said they are now listed for sale by a local real estate agent.
The extended loan terms call for repayment by June 2019 with monthly payments of $8,780 including interest of 0.19 percent.
In other business, the council adopted Resolution 16-09, which prohibits the dumping of dead animals in garbage containers, after a city employee became ill from the smell of skunks in the city’s garbage truck. Previously, customers were allowed to dispose of dead animals up to 25 pounds in the trash. Councilmen John May and Payton Norvell voted against the new rule.
Councilwoman Carra Nupp was appointed to the city’s reconstituted Wellness Committee. The Wellness Program’s mission is “to provide information, encouragement and activities which promote physical and emotional health for City employees in order to improve employee health and reduce long-term costs related to treatment of illness and accident.”
Under the direction of the Mayor, five employees and one councilmember will oversee the activities of the program. If the program meets all requirements, the city could see a two percent reduction in health insurance premiums.
The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 17 at 6:30 p.m.
By Jared Arnold/The Independent Staff