City Council Hears Proposals on Extending Warming Center Operations, Park Protections, Logboat Expansion
City Manager John Glascock resisted a temporary increase of the cutoff temperature needed to open the emergency Wabash warming center at Monday's city council meeting, citing the risk of losing federal funding.
The council heard a report from the Commission on Human Rights Chair Amanda Hinnant urging the city to temporarily increase the minimum temperature to open for this winter from 9 degrees to 18 in order to gauge whether the resources are available to make the change permanent. While the overall costs are unknown, additional expenses would include overtime pay for a police officer to be present and resources for toilets.
Glascock expressed concern that increasing the minimum temperature would jeopardize federal transit funds that allow the center to operate. The council resolved to reach out to federal grant authorities before determining whether the increased cutoff temperature is feasible.
Last year, the warming center was open for 11 nights, serving between three and 19 people each night of operation, Hinnant said. With the new minimum temperature, the center would have been open for seven additional nights.
The council also asked for a resolution to be made establishing a task force to create a Conservation Overlay District for Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.
When Jan Weaver arrived at the lectern to make her request on the issue to the City Council on behalf of Gans Creek Allies, nearly half of the room stood to acknowledge themselves as advocates for the group's cause.
Weaver, who is on the board of Friends of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, asked council to form an ad hoc committee to create a Conservation Overlay District. It would provide long-term protection for Rock Bridge Memorial State Park from encroaching development.
The proposals include stricter protections for stream buffer, erodible soils, the tree canopy and limits on impervious cover, like sidewalks and driveways, according to the request.
One of the terms of the request was that a moratorium of 18 months be put in place for all annexation and zoning within the area specified to give the committee time to create the overlay. The area is between Route K on the west, Gans Road on the north, U.S. 63 on the east and the edge of Rock Bridge Memorial State park on the south, according to the request letter.
"We are not suggesting that you take away anyone's current property rights," Weaver said.
The coalition was spurred because of the Canton Estates development but is looking for a long-term plan to protect the wildlife area from further development.
Weaver noted that the groups have 2,000 signatures supporting their effort.
City attorney Nancy Thompson recommended that the ad hoc committee instead be a task force because that is typically the way the city creates committees. Thompson also clarified that the city would do an administrative delay as opposed to a moratorium because there are several legal barriers that come with a moratorium and they are not used in local government.
The council also discussed the expansion of Logboat Brewery. Several residents spoke about concerns over development in the area. Among their concerns were parking spillover into nearby neighborhoods, noise and possible traffic congestion.
Logboat was approved to rezone property from mixed-use neighborhood to industrial last month and has requested a conditional use permit from the Planning and Zoning Committee in order to expand, the Missourian reported.
Council members were generally supportive of Logboat's expansion plans and unanimously approved the rezoning and final plats for the expansion.
The council also passed amendments to the City Code that expand alcohol sales to include Sunday mornings and create extensive regulations for to-go alcohol, in line with state laws.
Director of Health and Human Services Stephanie Browning gave a generally positive update on the COVID-19 numbers in Boone County. Numbers of cases and related statistics have declined across the board, including hospitalizations and positivity rate. Testing has also declined slightly.
Vaccinations had jumped significantly from last week's numbers, with 51% of the county fully vaccinated. The last seven-day average of doses administered was 392, versus last week's number of doses being 222. Browning speculated that this jump is due to people receiving their booster shots recently.