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HomeCity of AppletonAppleton City Council Update: March 30, 2024

Appleton City Council Update: March 30, 2024

Hello and Happy Easter to you and yours, Neighbors! Thank you for taking a little time this week to stop in for a quick alderman blog read.

This week is a Full Council Meeting Week with really just that one meeting on the schedule. But there is a very important event also on the calendar for the week.

Tuesday, 04/02/2024

Wisconsin Spring Election and Presidential Preference Day! See the city’s election webpage for more information on the polling locations, hours, and what local offices are up for election on this date. The Presidential Preference (also known as a primary) vote will also be on the ballot. All presidential candidates listed on the ballot are eligible for your vote (even those who may have removed themselves from the race for US President). As usual, District 13 voters should head to Celebration Lutheran (map) to cast your vote! As an election worker, I would be happy to help answer questions if you have them. Please let me know if you do!

Wednesday, 04/03/2024

City of Appleton Common Council – 7pm The mayor does not have any proclamations to present this week but there are two items to be presented — a request for the approval of some board and commission appointments and a presentation of new City of Appleton brand guidelines. The former looks to be a lot of reappointments and none of the appointees seem contentious. The latter has no information attached to it on the online agenda so we will have to see what will be presented and how the new guidelines might affect the city and citizens moving forward.

There will be a public hearing regarding the rezoning of a piece of property on the city’s south side from single-family residential (as it was assigned by default when it was annexed into the city decades ago and has since been due to no development on the site) to multi-family residential. The lot’s developer would like to eventually build a condo complex on that piece of land and therefore needs the land to be zoned multi-family as a first step in the process. The city’s comprehensive plan calls for that piece of property to be multi-family in the future. But the neighbors who have lived next to this empty field lot for years are in opposition to multi-family development there now. There is really nothing that the city or common council members can do to stop this rezoning as the developer is following all applicable rules in this process. But the neighborhood opposition will likely be present to continue to argue against it at the council meeting. It should be an interesting public hearing.

Other items of interest from the committee meetings last week which might garner further full council discussion include the following:

  • From the Municipal Services Committee: The potential approval of a new set of guidelines for “complete streets” in the city passed in committee and is up for a full council vote. While I do not have any major issues with the policy and am grateful that much of what had been in practice in the city is now in a formal document with checklists for reference on any new or rehab street projects. My only issue is that the plan up for approval includes some equity-based “data” for future crosswalk construction in the city (see the bottom notation on the map at the end of this document). Supposed equity-based evidence is not called for and, in my opinion, muddies the waters in decision making. Some say that equity-based “data” makes decisions on which streets and crosswalks to prioritize easier; but the “facts” of equity-based “data” are that populations and demographic change and can quickly outdate today’s equity-based “data.” I am not in favor of using these buzzword-based “facts” in the determinations on which streets and crosswalks should be prioritized in the city. I prefer more factual data such as crash analyses to make these types of decisions. What are your thoughts on these equity-based “facts” and how they might impact future city infrastructure projects?

  • From the Safety and Licensing Committee: An applicant for a liquor server license who has five OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) offenses on his record appeared before the committee last week. The Appleton Police Department (APD) memo regarding this applicant recommended that this license be denied based on the applicant’s OWI history. The committee, however, voted to recommend approval of his license application since the applicant appeared and made a plea regarding his rehabilitation. While I greatly appreciate that the sins of the past do not always dictate the actions of the future and believe that people who work on personal rehabilitation deserve recognition, I am still very concerned about how easily a recommendation from the APD was turned around by members of this committee and that the license is now up for full council approval. I am all for giving folks a second chance… but five OWI convictions means that this applicant has already received a second, third, and fourth chance with alcohol. He is working for an establishment without a bartender’s license and should not be precluded from doing so. However, I think that granting this license might be risky for the city, despite the applicant’s attestations of rehabilitation. Do you agree? This is a tough one as I am empathetic… but I feel like I still need to be looking out for the best interests of the citizens of Appleton.

  • From the Finance Committee: The proposed obligating of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds (see last week’s blog post for details) was approved by the committee as submitted. There were some pointed questions asked at the committee meeting about some of these requested appropriations and these items will likely come back for discussion here in the full council meeting as well. Of greatest concern is the large amount proposed to be allocated to the Appleton Transit Center project for a proposed purpose of supporting “affordable housing.” What do you think about $1.8M going to this proposed project which is still awaiting further federal grants before moving forward?

While I always have hopes that a full council meeting will not be excessively long, I always attend them with the knowledge that we will be talking about things that are important in Appleton and to Appletonians. I expect good discussions on the above items this week so there might be a long meeting. But I look forward to representing District 13 and your concerns this and every week! Please share with me any thoughts, concerns, ideas you might have regarding the above items or anything else city-government related.

Have a beautiful and blessed Easter Sunday and a lovely spring week ahead! I hope you’ll be back for next week’s alderman blog post.

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