BMA in Brief – February 25, 2019

To help you stay informed we will do our best to provide high level summaries for the bi-monthly Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) meetings. These summaries will be fact based with a focus on key items covered in the meetings and summaries of the votes taken. Where needed we will cover important discussions individually.

The Consent Agenda was amended to move the approval Professional Services agreement of the Golf Course Appraisal to the regular agenda. The commission appointments were moved to the Consent Agenda. There were no Citizens to be Heard.

The meeting can be viewed by clicking here.

9. Consent Agenda – Passed as amended 5-0 (begins approximately 15:14)

10. Appointments to Commissions – Moved to Consent Agenda

11. Contract – Winchester Road Resurfacing Project – 80 % of this project is funded by a TDOT grant of $1.1M. The city match for this project is $296K. The bid came in over budget and the Metropolitan Planning Organization agreed to fund the overage. Passed 5-0 (begins approximately 16:54)

12. Supplement No. 1 – Construction Engineering and Inspection Services – Winchester Rd – This contract is required to make sure that the project meets the state of Tennessee requirements due to this being funded by a TDOT grant. This will be funded as well 80/20 by TDOT grant with the city’s portion being $142K. Passed 5-0 (begins approximately 32:42)

13. Development Contract 1226 and Final Site Plan for New Cell Tower @ Madonna Learning Center – This is a T-mobile tower being moved from a MLGW transmission tower to a new stand alone tower on the Madonna Learning Center property. The Design and Review Commission (DRC) approved a design of a 140 foot mono pole design as opposed to the mono pine design. Alderman Massey moved to send the review the back to the DRC, seconded by Alderman Sanders. The motion to return the proposal to DRC failed 2-3 with Aldermen Massey and Sanders voting yes. Alderman Sanders moved to amend the motion to classify the tower as a Mono Pine, seconded by Vice Mayor Gibson. The amendment failed 2-3 with Alderman Massey and Sanders voting yes. Contract passed as submitted. Passed 4-1 (begins approximately 37:25)

14. Ordinance No. 2019-5 – Amendment to Zoning Ordinance Chapter 23 – Smart Code: Site Standards 3rd and Final Reading – This is the final reading for a change to the code for curb cut widths to address issues with access for emergency equipment. Approved 5-0 (begins approximately 1:10:11)

15. Ordinance No. 2019-6 – Amendment to Zoning Ordinance Chapter 23 – Wireless Transmission Facility 3rd and Final Reading – This change to the ordinance has two parts. First, it allows staff to approve minor changes to existing cell towers. Those types of changes currently require approval of the BMA. Staff updated the language to clarify approvals were only for existing facilities. The second change places process in place for the coming small cell technology. Alderman Massey moved to send the wording back to the Planning Commission and the motion failed due to a lack of a second. Alderman Sanders moved to amend the wording as proposed by staff and that amendment passed 4-0 with Alderman Massey abstaining. Alderman Sanders moved to change the wording to allow for and 18 inch pole and passed 4-0 with Alderman Massey abstaining. The extra two inches allow all the equipment associated with small cells to stay inside the pole. Alderman Massey moved to postpone the vote until staff presents a redline version of the document. The motion to postpone failed 2-3 with Aldermen Massey and Sanders voting yes. The amended ordinance was approved 4-1 (begins approximately 1:13:15)

16. Ordinance No. 2019-7 Amendment to Subdivision Ordinance Chapter 17-60 – Parkland Dedication – First Reading – The amendment changes the wording to address the use of the term “Parks Districts” which the city does not have. The change also allows the Parks Director to review the preliminary plans prior to going to the Parks Commission. The ordinance also addresses the need for Smart Code properties to make land or financial contributions in lieu of park land. Public Hearing date: March 25, 2019 First Reading Approved 4-1 (begins approximately 1:48:19)

17. Ordinance No. 2019-8 Amendment to the Vegetation Ordinance Chapter 22 – Tree Preservation and PlantingFirst Reading –  The ordinance makes two specific changes.  First it establishes the option of payment in-leiu of tree dedication.  Previously trees would have to be replaced or dedicated on public land.  In some cases neither of these options are viable.  The funds from these payment should be used for maintenance or replacement of public trees.  The second part establishes the option of a cap to the fee.  It will be at the discretion of the Design Review Commission and requires a report from an independent arborist, at the applicants expense.  Public Hearing date: March 25, 2019 Passed 4-1 (begins approximately 2:07:19)

18. Ordinance No. 2019-9 Amendment to Chapter 2, Article VI, Division 2 – Purchasing – First Reading – This Ordinance change updated the amount of approvals for items requiring bids to be in line with state approved limits. The changes will help to streamline the approval process for these services. Section 2-328, the ordinance moves the threshold for requiring competitive sealed bids from $10K to $25K.  It also moves the threshold for having three competitive quotes from a range of $4,000-$9,999.99 to a range of $10,000-$24,999.  Section 2-331, this change allows the city administrator or Mayor to approve change orders up to $10K vs. the current threshold of $2,500.  Section 2-337 raised the limit of bids needed for disposal of assets from $2,500 to $5,000.  Passed 4-1 (begins approximately 2:18:07)

19. Professional Services Agreement Appraisal – Germantown Country Club – This is approval for an appraisal for the Germantown Country Club property. The city is interested in bidding when the trustee for the family issues a request for proposal (RFP), estimated to happen in March. The appraisal helps to justify the proposed price when the city makes their potential offer. The offer will need to be reviewed by the Financial Advisory Commission and BMA for approval prior to submission to the trustee. Approved 5-0 (begins approximately 2:41:32)

20. Parliamentarian and debate of timeline of public debate during agenda items. This item was removed as there was not a 2/3 majority to add the item. A vote to reconsider passed 3-2 (begins approximately 2:48:10)

Beer Board Hearing – Suspension/Revocation of Beer License – The Fresh Market – Fresh Market was found guilty of selling beer to a minor and fined $1,500 for the offense. This was the fourth offense at this location dating back to 2006. Fine approved 5-0. (begins approximately 2:55:45)

 

Processing the Questions

Scott Sanders has hit the ground running. While we may not always agree politically, it is worth noting that he is doing things the right way so far. Covering the city has had us out and about attending commissions and other public meetings. We are used to seeing certain Aldermen at most of these events and glad to add Alderman Sanders to that list. I even noted that Alderman Sanders was in the Economic Development office meeting with City Staff while I was meeting with staff to discuss the MPO list.

In discussion about the changing structure for the city’s billing agreement with the law firm that provides legal counsel to the city it was clear that Mr. Sanders had done his homework. He had questions about the impact of the process and went to the City Administrator to address those one on one.  As a result, he spoke confidently and cast a vote reflecting what he believes is in the best interest of the citizens of Germantown. The aldermen are encouraged to do this. While the agenda packets are quite detailed it is difficult to anticipate every question that may come up given the diverse personal and professional backgrounds of the Board.

The work of governing is done in the lead up to meetings, not in the debate from the podium. We wholeheartedly believe in the value of healthy public debate. However, it is important to be prepared for those meetings. Generally, policy doesn’t just show up on an agenda a few days before a BMA meeting. Most items on the agenda have been in the works for some time and have moved through one or more of the commissions prior to being voted on in the BMA. Some are even called out in the annual budget approved at the beginning of the year. That is why staying involved is important.

In some cases, citizen volunteers and staff put hours, months and even years into developing proposals that get voted on in the BMA. Respect for those efforts means engaging early and addressing questions prior to votes.  Good timely questions actually help shape policy, especially when they are part of the development process. That level of engagement should be present with all of our Aldermen.

Staff should certainly be ready to answer questions but aldermen should be engaged in the process early and often. The Executive Sessions are open to the public and held 30 minutes prior to the BMA meetings. If you ever sit in one of these Executive sessions, you are likely to hear Aldermen ask the same questions in both meetings. They do this so that the responses will make it on the recordings for citizens that only attend the BMA or watch online. At most meetings you will see department heads sitting in the audience ready to address questions from the Board. Staff works hard to makes sure the Aldermen can make well informed decisions.

5-0 votes shouldn’t happen all the time. They should happen most of the time and not because people are blindly agreeing. They should happen because our leaders are engaged and have had their concerns addressed earlier in the process and the result is something that reflects their input and what is best for our community.