The semi-monthly meeting of the City Council of Walcott, Iowa, was held on Monday, the 16th day of April, 2018, at Walcott City Hall. Mayor John Kostichek called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. Council members present were: John Brockmann, Tim Koehler, Lisa Mengler, Jacob Puck, and Larry Smith. Absent: None. City staff present: Jeff Blake, Lisa Rickertsen, Tom Schirman, and Paul Stagg.
Approval of Agenda. Puck moved and Smith seconded to approve the agenda. Motion carried.
Introduction of Audience/Public Comments. Approximately twenty residents were in attendance. A few residents stated that they were in support of backyard hens, while a few other residents stated they were opposed. Bernard Brus stated he was opposed due to the noise, smell, and increased predators resulting from the hens.
Consent Agenda. Mengler moved and Koehler seconded to approve the consent agenda including the invoices, minutes from April 2, 2018, and Resolution 2018-12, Authorizing the Transfer of Funds, and the March 2018 Financial Reports. Roll call ayes: Mengler, Koehler, Smith, Brockmann, and Puck. Motion carried.
Resolution 2018-13, Approving Site Plan for Ossian Inc. Salt Storage Building. Rickertsen stated the Planning & Zoning Commission met on April 9, 2018 and recommended approval of the Ossian, Inc. Salt Storage Building Site Plan. She stated there were concerns expressed by an adjoining property owner during the Planning & Zoning meeting regarding increased runoff but it was verified by the engineer that the pond was initially sized for the entire potential development of over 40 acres and with the proposed new building the development is only approximately 8 acres total. Koehler moved and Mengler seconded to approve Resolution 2018-13, Approving Site Plan for Ossian Inc. Salt Storage Building. Roll call ayes: Koehler, Mengler, Smith, Brockmann, and Puck. Motion carried.
Resolution 2018-14, Approving Contract & Bonds for the Splash Pad Project. Rickertsen stated the contract and required bonds were signed and submitted. Puck moved and Smith seconded to approve Resolution 2018-14, Approving Contract & Bonds for the Splash Pad Project. Roll call ayes: Puck, Smith, Brockmann, Mengler, and Koehler. Motion carried.
Request for Backyard Hens. At the last meeting, resident Kelly Valenzuela requested the City Council allow residents to keep a small flock of hens with several regulations. Mayor Kostichek initiated the discussion stating that he received approximately 15 – 20 calls regarding the request for backyard hens and that 75% were against it. Kelly Valenzuela read a letter from a conservation biology professor from Davenport, stating he felt that backyard chickens provide far more benefits than risks. She also presented information stating that while there are several diseases that can possibly be transmitted between chickens and humans, most of them are rare and are not usually a problem. She also discussed the benefits of farm fresh eggs, including the higher nutritional value for properly fed, well-cared for chickens. Mengler reported on her concerns with setting precedence for allowing livestock. (Livestock as defined in both the City Code (55.01(7) and Code of Iowa (717.1) means an animal belonging to the bovine, caprine, equine, ovine, or porcine species, ostriches, rheas, emus; farm deer as defined in Section 170.1 of the Code of Iowa or poultry.) Several residents in attendance spoke on both sides of the issue which include the following comments/concerns: noise and increased predators; preserving individual’s rights; geese and dogs are louder than chickens; dogs are domestic animals that differentiates them from livestock; and a CDC (Center of Disease Control & Prevention) report of over 900 human salmonella infections linked to poultry in backyard flocks in 2017. Following a lengthy discussion, Mengler moved and Smith seconded to deny the request for chickens. Motion carried. Puck stated he felt it was worth waiting a year to determine if Davenport and Moline have issues with backyard hens.
Hearts & Hands Foundation – Electronic Sign. Austin Burt presented a drawing of the proposed Dick Hagen Community Sign. He reported the electronic sign would display upcoming events and he would work with Attorney Schirman on control guidelines. Mengler stated the City should have control of the sign if they are responsible for it. Burt stated all events would be submitted to and approved by the City first and he could upload the information and graphics to the sign. Discussion ensued including the original sign easement to the City, electricity costs, and internet connectivity. Mengler moved and Koehler seconded to allow the Hearts & Hands Foundation to start work on the Dick Hagen Community Sign as presented with the City approving events and allowing a Hearts & Hands Foundation member to upload them. Motion carried. An electronic sign policy will be submitted to Council at a later meeting.
Ordinance 498-18, Amending Chapter 92 Regarding Water Rates – 2nd Reading. Rickertsen stated this Ordinance will increase the water usage rate by $.15 per 1,000 gallons of water and the minimum charge for bulk water sales from $20 to $25, effective on the June 1, 2018, billing. The increase is needed to support the operations, maintenance, and improvements of the water utility. Smith moved and Puck seconded to approve the second reading of Ordinance 498-18, Amending Chapter 92 Regarding Water Rates. Roll call ayes: Smith, Puck, Mengler, Koehler, and Brockmann. Motion carried.
Police Department Report. Blake presented a project worksheet to replace three body armor vests from Panther Uniforms. Mengler moved and Puck seconded to purchase three body armor vests from Panther Uniforms for $2,538. Motion carried.
Public Works Department Report. Stagg stated that Visu-Sewer will be in town this week to start televising and cleaning the City’s sanitary sewer mains. The project is expected to take up to two months to complete.
City Clerk’s Report. Rickertsen reported on a new business relocating a warehouse and distribution facility to Walcott.
City Attorney Report. Schirman stated there has been some progress regarding the nuisance with parcel 820655138-55, S. Grove Street (behind the Lampliter) but a request to extend the May 1st deadline must be submitted in writing.
Council Member Comments. Smith reported that the Street Committee (Smith & Puck) met last week and found areas that need to be addressed. Stagg has already completed several items on the list and Smith suggested Council Members contact Stagg if they notice a problem area.
Puck moved and Smith seconded to adjourn at 7:30 p.m. Motion carried. All votes on motions were unanimous, unless noted.