BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER The Centennial City Council, at a meeting earlier this week, heard a...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Centennial City Attorney Robert Widner made a presentation to the Cit...
BY DORIS TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER The Centennial city council Monday night selected Mike Sutherland, a cou...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER The City of Centennial has adopted a Value Statement, which is: In Ce...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Centennial residents opposed certain proposed residential apartment d...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER The Centennial City Council is considering updates to the city’s fisc...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Vaping was again a topic of discussion at a Centennial City Council m...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Centennial has been recognized as not only the safest city in Colorad...
BY DORIS TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER A Centennial woman told the City Council Monday night that a drone in he...
BY DORIS TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Vaping and e-cigarette use was the topic of an extensive discussion by t...
BY DORIS B. TRUHLARGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
Members of the Centennial City Council praised the city’s snow and ice removal program at a council meeting Monday.
Craig Faessler, Program Director for Centennial, told the council that the city maintained “a safe and reliable” transportation network throughout the 2018-19 winter. Council members made numerous statements indicating satisfaction with the ability of city’s public works crews to keep up with the weather.
Ron Weidmann, long-time council member, noted that the city did not, for its first several years, clear the sidewalks. Weidmann offered his “compliments” to Faessler and the workers in the Public Works Department.
Mayor Stephanie Piko said the response of city crews to the snow storms was excellent. Marlo Alston, councilwoman from District 4, the most eastern area of the city, said she thinks that “more education” of residents about snow storms in Colorado should be offered by the city.
Snowfall in the 2018-19 winter season was 54.79 inches, which Faessler said in a written report was of an amount that “would be considered an average winter season” based on snowfall for the past seven years.
Faessler noted that, with the addition of five snowplow trucks in 2017, ten additional snowplow operators have been employed fulltime from mid-October through mid-May.
One of the most problematic areas are the sidewalks where there is “minimal landscaping,” leaving little room for depositing snow as the streets are cleared, Faessler said.
In other business, the council heard from Ron Phelps, a resident of District 1, the most western part of the city. Phelps said that the city’s current process for development should be modified by adding a “community meeting” to the development process. Phelps said the process leaves residents feeling “ambushed.”
The council also approved a revision to an Excel Energy plan that permits the power company to put a communications facility on a different part of the plat of land upon which Excel is building.
The Centennial City Council on Monday night unanimously adopted on final reading a controversial urban camping ban, prohibiting camping on city-owned property such as parks and other open space, trails, rights-of-way and drainageways. The council chambers were packed with proponents and opponents of the measure.
The council heard from about 15 residents, many favoring the ban, but several in vehement opposition to the proposal, which was heard on first reading at the council meeting on Monday, July 1. It appeared likely that at least one of the anti-camping ban proponents was threatening the city with litigation if the proposal passed.
A staff report from Jill Hassman, assistant city attorney, said that the city staff recommended that the proposal be passed, and that the city has “the clear authority” to pass the ban. Recent urban camping bans were passed by both the Denver City Council and the Parker City Council.
“Individuals have no legal right to use public space for activities such as camping or overnight stay, Hassman stated in a written memo to the council. “Absent a local law,” the city has to rely on “the general law of trespass . . . and [it] is more difficult to impose when unwanted camping is discovered on public property.”
City Attorney Robert Widner, who was present at the meeting, in response to questions from The Villager, said that the city has received some complaints about urban camping.
Denver and Parker both have recently adopted such bans.
Several residents described discovering encampments near their homes and described them as extremely dirty and concerning. Hassman’s report stated that camping “is inconsistent with the intended use of the city’s property.” She labeled the issue one of “significant impacts” to Centennial residents. The ordinance states that the law is necessary “to promote public health and safety.”
Definitions of “camping” in the law include sleeping “or making preparations to sleep, including the lying down of bedding for the purpose of sleeping as well as the presence or use of a “campfire, camp stove or other heating source.”
A man identifying himself as “Pastor John McLain from Tucson, Arizona,” said he is a minister to veterans and a social worker. He said that he was involved in obtaining a “preliminary injunction” in one city where a camping ban was enacted.
Another city had “punitive damages” imposed for banning urban camping, McLain said. Additionally, he stated that he takes the calling of Jesus “very seriously” and that Jesus has guided him to “help the poor. Jesus said to take care of the poor.” Christians must consider whether Jesus “would impose a camping ban,” he stated.
Someone who was sitting with McLain, who identified herself as Katie Etcheverry, of Highlands Ranch, said she was also opposed to the camping ban, which she said would be “criminalizing” sleeping. She said she works at the Centennial Airport.
A resident of Centennial, Chris Davis, of 7603 S. Gilpin Court, said he makes $17.25 hourly and cannot afford an apartment. He, too, was opposed to the ban, and predicted it would be found unconstitutional.
Several in the large audience spoke vehemently in favor of the proposal. One woman said she discovered a camp behind her home and has repeatedly been awakened in the middle of the night by various loud, scary noises coming from the camp.
Some members of the audience urged the council to pass the ordinance out of concern for the safety of children in residential neighborhoods and because the camps are very dirty. One said she asked the police for assistance, and they told her there was no law prohibiting such camping. She said there was one camp immediately behind her home, and a second camp a little farther away from her home.
Some residents said they have helped the homeless. Others said the “tents and mess” of the encampments makes them unwanted. A University of Denver College of Law student, Kristein Mallory Westerberg, said there are 351 anti-homeless ordinances across Colorado and it is “not right.” There are five anti-homeless laws in Denver alone, she said. She urged the council not to “implement the failed policy” of other cities.
Another resident of Centennial, Lisa DiSabgiano, said the issue is “a completely new beast.” In some places in the United States, anti-drug medications are being passed out in homeless encampments, she said. This is “a horrible lifestyle.” One resident said he “feels sorry” for homeless residents, but added that the homeless should not be allowed to camp on public lands.
Some residents said the city should not impose large fines on the homeless. City Attorney Widner said that, while the city could impose large fines, he believes the typical fine levied would be about $80. Widner said there was no provision in the Centennial city code to incarcerate homeless individuals who violate the ban. There was very little discussion by the council prior to unanimously approving the ban.
Mr. Widner was re-elected by Colorado Municipal League (CML) membership to a two-year term on the board. He was also selected by the board as vice president.
The CML board will elect executive officers, including the board president, subsequent to next year’s annual business meeting and board election.
The city attorney thanked the members of the Centennial Council for their ongoing support of him as a member of the board, and as vice president of CML.
Widner’s firm, Widner Juran LLP, is located in the Centennial City Hall building at 13133 East Arapahoe Road in Centennial. His legal practice has consistently focused on local government representation. He has been the city attorney for Centennial since the city was formed and litigation regarding its formation was resolved with a District Court decision in 2001.
The firm has several attorneys, all of whom practice in municipal or special district law. Widner has a special area of expertise in land use law.
The City of Centennial’s finances were given an A-plus rating by the city’s Audit Committee in a study session Monday night.
Three certified public accountants from Rubin Brown, a Denver certified public accounting firm, praised the city for its near-perfect record in regard to finances.
The CPAs said that the city was exceptionally cooperative in providing information to the outside accountants, and that the city has followed all the recommendations made to the outside accountants in previous years.
The outside accountants said there are “no . . . known instances of noncompliance” with the requirements that the outside firm has made to the city. Director of Finance for the city is Doug Farmen.
Farman and Linda Gregory, Deputy Finance director, also made reports to the council.
The council’s Audit Committee also made a report to the council, stating that the finance and accounting department “implemented a quicker financial statement close than last year.” They also noted that the quicker financial statement “assisted in preparing” for the outside audit.
Tom Gross, of Kentwood Real Estate, who is a member of the Audit Committee, also made a report to the council, indicating that the city has followed all of the recommendations of the outside auditors. The Audit Committee thanked Rubin Brown for reviewing the city’s finances.
The committee also noted that the outside auditors recommended that there be cross training of all the employees in the Finance Department and said that had been accomplished. The cross training permits multiple employees to perform various functions and reduces the reliance on any one employee within the Finance Department. The auditors also stated that the city should continue the same process in future years.
A number of charts and detailed analyses were presented, and Centennial compared very favorably to such cities as Johns Creek, GA and the City of Arvada.
The report of the outside auditors indicated that Centennial had no deficiencies or significant deficiencies.
BY DORIS B. TRUHLAR
The Centennial City Council Monday night unanimously approved on first reading without discussion an ordinance that bans camping on city-owned property. There was no discussion of the measure, which is scheduled for a public hearing at the July 8, 2019 meeting.
The penalty for camping on public property will be a fine. There is no jail sentence permitted by the ordinance making camping on public property illegal.
In a memo from Jill Hassman, assistant city attorney, the council was informed that there have been some incidences of camping on city-owned property, which includes parks, open space, trails, rights-of-way and drainageways.
The Hassman memo stated that the city recently has been “confronted with small camps,” presumably of homeless people, on city-owned property.
In other business, the council passed on first reading an ordinance providing for a General Improvement District in the Willow Creek neighborhood. The district, which will be voted on in the November 2019
election, would have the authority to raise funds through property taxes. The vote was unanimous. One individual spoke against the establishment of a GID, which is a common method in Colorado of providing for services.
The Willow Creek GID would serve 1,073 homes with an appraised value of $541,215,005. There would be 2,426 voters in the district.
Glenn Thompson, a bureau chief with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, reminded residents not to use illegal fireworks.
Jerry Rhodes, an assistant fire chief with the South Metro Fire Rescue District reported that the district has a budget of $136 million this year and covers an 287-square mile area, serving 540,000 residents. Councilwoman Candace Moon thanked Rhodes and his district for the services they provide.
The council, in a study session prior to its regular meeting, heard a report from Jeff Dankenbring, Public Works Director for Centennial, recommending that the city finalize and approve a Title VI Plan.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin. Centennial has not received any Tital VI complaints or been the subject of a Title VI lawsuit or investigation.
It is necessary for the city to adopt a plan in order to receive federal funding through the Colorado Department of Transportation, which requires that recipients of that department’s fund have a plan in place.
City staff will finalize a plan and a Title VI coordinator will be appointed. The issue will be on a future agenda, probably later this summer.
Two council members, Ken Lucas and Ron Weidmann, were absent. Their absences were excused by the mayor.
Parking, parking everywhere, and not a rule to follow. That’s the case in Centennial, where the City Council spent more than two hours on Monday night discussing topics that have been brought up over and over again since at least 2010, and probably prior to that time.
Basically, there are two major issues, and one smaller issue. One major issue is how long a vehicle that is operational and licensed can remain parked in the same place on Centennial streets.
Another – and probably bigger – issue is the parking of recreational vehicles, including camping trailers that do not have motors, boats and other trailers. A third, but probably the least significant issue or perhaps not an issue, is whether someone may park her or his vehicles in front of someone else’s home.
As to the first issue – the length of time a vehicle can remain in the same parking space on a public street in Centennial – the council did not appear to be of one mind. There was a proposal that the council set a two-week limit on being parked in the same spot. The issue will be brought back to them later this summer, probably at the meeting on August 5.
It may not matter much, since such laws are extremely difficult to enforce. All someone would have to do is claim she or he had moved their vehicle by driving it around the block, and they would likely not be ticketed. It also seems probable that the Office of the Arapahoe County Sheriff would have little time to pursue such cases. It has bigger fish to fry, so to speak.
In regard to the second issue – the bigger one regarding parking of recreational vehicles including boats and non-motorized campers – the solution appears to be a little bit more complicated and is multi-faceted. In fact, there are so many sub-issues that the council could be talking about it for another ten years without reaching a decision.
A complication related to parking of recreational vehicles is that the council agrees that they cannot be parked on grass, but that does not appear to cover the situation where the owner of the recreational vehicle has let the grass die and is parking his or her RV, boat or trailer on dirt. It appears that would not violate any proposed law.
There is also an issue of exactly where an RV can be parked – what if the vehicle (using the term loosely to include non-motorized campers that are typically pulled by pick-up trucks) is parked on a driveway and is somewhat bigger than the driveway? What if the RV is tall and blocks the neighbor’s vegetable garden? What kinds of surfaces are authorized for the parking of an RV?
It obviously would be the easiest solution to have limits on the length of RV’s and trailers, and an ordinance, for example, that states that vehicles (again, using the term loosely) of more than 25 feet in length cannot be parked in a residential neighborhood. It does not appear, however, that limitations based on the length of the RV are likely to pass muster with the council, based on their discussion.
Councilman Ron Weidmann said he had, prior to the meeting, been of a mind to think that ordinances were needed regarding parking of RV’s, trailers and boats, but that he had changed his mind.
Additionally, Weidmann said that “lots of people will be mad” at the city for imposing such restrictions on private property. Some people moved to their homes because of a lack of such laws, he said, and we “need to stay out of this.”
Councilwoman Candace Moon said there has to be “respect for personal property rights.” She said she was “perplexed” regarding the issue of parking large RV’s on concrete driveway. The council discussed the possibility of limiting an RV, boat or trailer to a certain percentage of the driveway length.
There was some discussion regarding forcing residents to store their boats, trailers and RVs off of their property. Councilman Mike Sutherland said he did not think there should be “percentage restrictions.” He also noted that the council has been discussing the issue for a decade. City staff had a picture of a very large non-motorized RV on a driveway, and Sutherland said he was “struggling” with it.
It appeared that there have not been many complaints related to the parking of RV’s, boats and other trailers.
Moon commented she had a neighbor who had a large RV in the neighbor’s back yard, and ran the RV often, for hours at a time, creating bothersome fumes. That owner, however, has died, and it is no longer a problem. She also said that there is a question regarding whether a family with a large RV has a reasonable expectation that they will be able to store the vehicle at their home, as they do their books and movies.
It would bring property values down to have big trailers stored at residences, Moon commented. Hopefully, the council will be able to figure out a solution “that works for everybody,” she said.
There actually appeared to be only one issue about which the council was in agreement. That was that larger properties, an acre or more, likely will be exempt from any ordinance adopted by the city.
Mayor Stephanie Piko said the council would likely have to take “baby steps” to find solutions to the RV parking issues.
Even the surfaces upon which the vehicles may be parked – if they are allowed to be parked in residential neighborhoods – is an issue that will have to be considered by the council, probably at a meeting later this summer.
The council only briefly touched on the issue of whether someone may park their vehicle in front of another person’s home, and it was not clear whether that was actually an issue, or just a topic that was thrown in the mix because the council already was discussing parking issues.
The Centennial City Council appeared at its meeting on Monday night, a study session, to likely favor the establishment of a non-profit entity for the promotion of arts and culture.
They did not, however, take a vote on the issue, but agreed to appoint a subcommittee, consisting of council members and some representatives of the public, to make recommendations.
Each of the city’s four City Council districts will have the authority to appoint one person to the subcommittee, which is potentially a problem, since it appears that there could be some districts in which the two council representatives might not be able to agree.
The entity, if one is created, likely would be a 501(c)(3) corporation, which is a corporation set up not-for-profit, but it could take some other form, such as a commission of the city.
City staff prepared a chart showing what other municipalities in the metropolitan area have done, including Parker, Lakewood, Lone Tree, Castle Pines, Greenwood Village, Thornton, Castle Rock, Aurora and Englewood.
In Englewood, the city has a 1 percent fee for the arts component of its annual capital improvements fund. In Castle Rock, there is a seven-citizen Public Arts Commission that oversees the expenditures of approximately $25,000 annually from a fund endowed by a local banker.
It appears that Councilwoman Kathy Turley has been the driving force behind the city’s consideration of the issue. It was not clear at the meeting whether a majority of the council would favor the establishment of any type of entity to promote arts and culture.
There are several issues in regard to the establishment of such an entity, including the goals and mission of an entity, what form the entity would take (a 501(c)(3) corporation, a council on the arts, a committee or some other form).
There also is an issue whether the council would maintain supervisory control over the entity, or, in the alternative, the entity would be totally independent. City staff did not make recommendation to the council.
The Centennial City Council on Monday night approved a contribution of $60,000 to the Parker Jordan Metropolitan District for improvements within the Parker Jordan Centennial Open Space.
The open space is near the intersection of Arapahoe Road and South Parker Road and runs along Cherry Creek.
The projects include $30,000 for a trail connection, and another $30,000 for an additional neighborhood trail connection at South Kitteridge Circle, educational signage for various landscapes and habitats, additional benches, native grass seeding, planting of trees and shrubs and pet waste stations.
Councilman Ron Weidmann said he and his wife walk in the Parker Jordan Centennial Open Space and “it’s beautiful.”
In other business, Councilwomen Kathy Turley and Carrie Penaloza were chosen to serve on an appointment committee for the Centennial Senior Commission.
The council discussed a Police Department Feasibility Study prepared by former Sheriff David C. Walcher. The council already, at its last meeting in May, approved an extension of a contract with the Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners. The extension made it clear that the city would not – at least any time soon – establish its own law enforcement agency. Instead, the city will continue to contract with the County Commissioners to have the Office of the Arapahoe Sheriff provide law enforcement services.
Walcher’s report is available to the public for those who request a copy of the feasibility study. Anyone interested in obtaining a report should call the city at (303) 325-8000.
The council had an extensive discussion in regard to whether the city should continue to consider establishing its own police department. They agreed to continue reviewing the situation, but apparently, not with an eye toward establishing a Centennial Police Department. The focus would be on managing rising costs of law enforcement.
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