The Greenfield City Council, at its January 15 meeting, filled the empty council seat left open by Mayor Brad Johnson. Johnson was midway through serving his four-year term when he was elected mayor in November.
The action item was introduced by the city’s administrator, Kathryne McCullum, who explained to the council that since the remainder of Johnson’s term was less than two years, the council had the option of advertising the opening and soliciting the names of interested parties for consideration, or moving more swiftly and nominating a candidate and conducting a vote at present.
Greenfield resident Chuck Alcon’s name was introduced and met with vocal support by the full council. Johnson and councilors Tom Cook and Mike Erickson credited Alcon for contributions made on behalf of city in regard to recently approved density guideline changes to its Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Alcon, who unsuccessfully ran for a council seat in November, regularly attends council meetings and has been vocal on the issue of increased density in portions of the city for several years. This was a priority of the last administration and continues to be with the sitting council.
Councilor Mark Holten, who was elected in November, stated that he was aware of Alcon’s contributions to the city having been on it planning commission, and was supportive of installing him on the council.
Erickson made a motion to this effect, which passed unanimously. Alcon was sworn in, met with applause from attendees and cracked a few well received jokes as he settled in at the council table for his first meeting.
Moving full steam ahead, 2013 council appointments were addressed and made. Most notable was that of Acting Mayor, the appointee taking over for the mayor if needed, including running meetings in the absence of the mayor. Both Cook and Erickson expressed interest in the position. After some discussion, a vote was conducted and Cook was declared Acting Mayor.
COMP PLAN APPROVAL
It’s been a long time coming, dating back to 2007, but the Comprehensive Land Use update, including increased density not guided by the Metropolitan Council in the original, was approved by the Met Council earlier in the month. Councilors took the opportunity to thank those who worked on the plan update, achieving a result long sought by officials and a number of residents in the effort to promote growth in the city by making the area more appealing to developers. Councilor Cook called the action a huge step forward and stated that there wasn’t a downside to this action, and that Greenfield taxpayers and voters played a part in the outcome by coming together over the direction of the city.
“It’s nice to have it behind us so we have at least a couple years before we have to start again,” said Johnson of the approved update, drawing laughs.
The comp plan update, once a divisive council topic, cost the city $10,000 in grant money due to missed deadlines, although it remained a focal point of the council, staff and planning commission throughout completion.
Erickson told the council that he’d heard from several residents that communication should be improved within the city including the reinstatement of the city newsletter, The Greenfield Gazette. Discussion ensued, with cost and frequency emerging as the major points.
McCullum, asked by Erickson, said that the cost of a citywide distributed news mailing is approximately $350 per issue.
It was suggested by residents that the newsletter be sent out in electronic form, or both with residents having the option of paper versus email, with copies available at the city hall.
Greenfield Planning Commissioner Jack Dukes told the council, which appeared to be leaning toward biannual distribution, that if it would commit to three newsletters a year, he would fund the cost of one issue for 2013 and 2014. He said that with all the work being done in the city, including that of the city’s park advisory, it was important to let residents know that “we do need them”.
The city will revisit this issue, and a revised draft of a newsletter, at its Feb. 5 meeting.
The next regular meeting of the Greenfield City Council is Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m. at 6390 Town Hall Drive.