first month complete

May has come to a close, finishing up my first complete month on the City Council. I also serve on the Board of Park Commissioners and on the Board of Public Works, and we’ve been quite busy in recent weeks.

I’m finally getting into a comfortable norm for responding to citizen inquiries. I’ve had to come up with a good way to keep track of all my communications and action items. I’ve already spoken to neighbors about many issues, including cutting the grass at city parks, traffic near roundabouts, ordinance on domestic chickens, street signage, and multi-family home developments just to name a few.

Here are some highlights.

De Pere Riverwalk

Our new riverwalk project is coming along very well. City officials toured the riverwalk a few weeks ago, and we got an overview of the project status from our parks director. In short, the first phase will open soon. I hope you’ll join us for the opening event on Saturday, June 30 (watch the news for details). Phase 2 will consist of building two piers out over the water off the riverwalk, one for fishing and one for viewing. We expect to begin that phase in October.

Domestic Chickens

A neighbor of mine called to talk about changing our animal ordinance to allow them to keep chickens in their yard. This threw me for a loop, because this is an issue that I knew absolutely nothing about. But the neighbor was very well educated on the issue, she had some great examples from other municipalities, and I’ve been able to learn a bit. I attended the Board of Health meeting last week where this issue was discussed. Long story short, we have an amended animal ordinance drafted, and the Board of Health approved it. So it’ll now go to the full City Council for approval (probably on June 19).

I think allowing chickens in the city is a good idea. Residents can harvest the eggs, the chickens can eat insects, and kids can learn more about where our food comes from. It’s a great lesson to see first hand that you can raise chickens, feed them and take care of them, and in return you get eggs.

Our ordinance will not allow roosters, only hens, and a maximum of 4. And no residence will be allowed more than six animals total (dogs, cats, chickens).

I will vote in favor.

Apartment Rezoning

A local developer asked for some land on the southwest side of town to be rezoned to allow them to build apartment buildings instead of single family homes. This was a bit complicated, but in the end, we voted against the rezoning due to the outpouring of neighbors who spoke out against the plan. There was some discussion about how the rezoning compares to our comprehensive plan for the city. In an effort to learn more about this situation, I drove every residential street off Lawrence Drive, and compared the developed properties to our comprehensive plan map. With that information in hand, and with the feedback from many neighbors, I decided to vote against rezoning.

In the future, I suspect that I’d vote in favor of apartments more often than not. But in this case, voting against them was the right thing to do.

As always, I’m interested in your feedback on these and any other issues we’re working on. Please contact me any time.  And, you can always read the City Council documents or watch the videos.