On June 18, Flagstaff City Council met to discuss the 2020 budget, rezoning property at East Butler Avenue, approval of the property tax levy increase and continue discussion on electric bikes in Flagstaff.
The rezoning of land at East Butler Avenue will be from Light Industrial (LI) and Heavy Industrial (HI) to High Density Residential (HR) to develop a multi-family residential and commercial project.
This project has a total of 14.51 acres and will consist of multiple units. The first proposal by McGrath Partners in March had 80 percent of units as four-bed, four-bath. City Council asked for this ratio to be altered due to concerns about what part of the community this would be catering to. The new proposal decreased this unit type to 22 percent.
In addition to revisions on unit type, McGrath proposed to add $500,000 in funds to Affordable Housing. This is a $400,000 increase from the first proposal. There was no proposal for additional affordable housing units which will remain at 10 percent of the total units.
McGrath also proposed to increase donations to the Flagstaff Police Department as well as the Flagstaff Fire Department.
Despite pushback in March, McGrath Partners listened to City Council as well as the community and addressed areas of concern. This new development indicates new housing options for various family styles and a community unit called the Flex Building which will be made available to the public.
The discussion will be picked up for adoption at the July 2 City Council meeting.
The budget for 2019-2020 was discussed for consideration and adoption. In addition, fiscal matters regarding an increase in a Primary Property Tax Levy by two percent, as well as an increase of the Use Tax from one percent to 2.281 percent.
The 2019-2020 budget raised concerns from Councilmembers Jamie Whelan and Regina Salas.
“I am frustrated that this budget is predicated upon a Property Tax Levy. We hear from the speakers today…about the increase in cost of living in Flagstaff…Then we see (the county) increase the property taxes," said Salas.
“Our budget process is lacking a priority based focus…it’s broken.” Said Whelan.
The Property Tax Levy will be put into effect to add an Affordable Housing Developer as well as a Lighting Specialist for dark skies in Flagstaff.
All Councilmembers besides Regina Salas voted in favor.
The last item on the agenda discussed electric bikes in Flagstaff.
More than 15 individuals weighed in to give their thoughts on electric bikes in Flagstaff. This item on the agenda accounted for nearly two hours out of the entire City Council Meeting. The discussion between council members as well as the public was noted as, “polarized” on several accounts by Councilmember Jim McCarthy and others.
Many individuals, including electric bike commuter and Flagstaff resident Derek Sondregger, urged policy makers to put issues on concerns of electric biking on “behavior."
The council members debated for nearly the entire allotted hour given to them regarding concerns on the adoption of electric bikes.
Shimoni had been called into question by Salas on whether or not he should weigh in on the conversation or vote as he is the owner of bike shop, Flagstaff Bikes, proposing that it is a conflict of interest.
City Attorney, Sterling Solomon, pointed out that after this concern arose previously, outside legal consultation was reached and a consensus was made.
“Just to clarify for the council and for the public, an independent legal opinion was sought and obtained…the decision is still with the council member," said Solomon.
Another consideration in an effort to bridge the gap between people for electric bikes and against was to categorize trails.
McCarthy proposed a select list of trails in which electric bikes would be disallowed including the Arizona National Scenic Trail, the Nate Avery Trail, the Switzer Canyon Trail, Observatory Mesa: Mars Hill and Tunnel Springs Trails, the Sinclair Wash Trail and Karen Cooper Trail.
“Do we want compromise, or do we want a winner-take-all outcome?” said McCarthy
As the ordinance came to a close, the final resolution with additional amendments was met with a unanimous vote.
The additional amendments include the Nate Avery Trail as well as the Arizona Scenic Trail will remain non-motorized. The Pedestrian Advisory Committee, The Bicycle Advisory Committee, and the Transportation Commission will be allowed to review and disallow additional trails from motorization as well as signage etiquette on trails.
On July 2, the next City Council Meeting will be held to vote on ordinances discussed on Tuesday and to read new ordinances. The Flagstaff City Council meets at 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of every month at Flagstaff City Hall.