WPNPCT minutes 03.14.16
PRESENT: Conor Kenny, Scooter Cheatham, Steve Speir, Margi Bienemann, Brian Graham, Elaine Bohls-Graham, David E. Golden, Walt Olenick,
ABSENT: Kenny Gaston-Kilgore (excused), Carol Kent (excused), Ami Davis (excused), and Art Turner (church event).
GUESTS: Nadia Khan, Lane Hicks, Jaime Guerra, Rodney Ahart, Jeanette Swenson, and Rick Krivoniak
Conor Kenny, chair of the WPNPCT, determined a quorum present and called the meeting to order. Minutes from the 1-11-16 meeting were distributed for re-consideration and received unanimous approval. Conor Kenny made motion to approve, seconded by Margi. Minutes from the 2-8-16 meeting were distributed and Scooter Cheatham moved to approve, David Golden seconded and they were approved unanimously.
Conor and Scooter then led a discussion regarding how the contact team should respond to requests from project owners to speak to contact team meetings. Based on conversations with Greg Guernsey and Stevie Greathouse and the City Council ordinance that created contact teams (§ 25-1-805 – NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN CONTACT TEAM_Code of Ordinances Austin, TX), Scooter interpreted a primary role of the team as hearing projects that have requested a zoning change or a change in the FLUM (Future Land Use Map) and have submitted a project for approval through the COA Planning and Zoning Department. He expressed a concern, from previous experiences of the WPNPCT, that the team could be overwhelmed if we try to hear full presentations from every project that is only in the “idea phase” or lacks funding to go forward, as “many of these projects never materialize.”
Brian Graham stressed that it is important that the team doesn’t lose the ability to get an early informal project review. But he agreed it should first be scheduled through the chair in order to get on the agenda.
Conor stressed that he felt it was important that the contact team remain open to letting people and/or developers speak at the last minute even if their site plans are not yet completed.
Scooter agreed that an informal review was appropriate as long as the presentation is approved by the chair.
Nadia Khan asked if it was correct that the City of Austin always sends out a notice about a proposed zoning change. Conor confirmed that this was the case. Nadia said she believes it is important that the team be viewed as open to all who wish to make a presentation. She says her understanding is that the City of Austin hopes projects will come to the contact team first.
Jeanette Swenson said that the city permitting process was “very cumbersome.” She said it is important that “we have input as early as possible” because by the time it gets to permitting the investors have spent a lot of money and changes are expensive.
Conor believes the contact team does not have to comply with the Texas Open Meetings Act since “we are only an advisory committee.” He said in order to give formal consideration to any project, the team needs to notify people affected and get it on the agenda.
In the end, Scooter agreed that we should strive to get as much information as we can before letting someone on the agenda. Brian said we need to remain flexible as fast-moving construction projects come forward.
It was agreed that Conor would draft a resolution regarding these issues and present it to the team at a future meeting.
Conor then brought forward a resolution intended to bring clarity regarding rules for publishing information to the neighborhood or general public about the actions of the contact team. The resolution recognizes that “the executive committee exists to facilitate the actions of the contact team but not to make those decisions for them. The resolution authorizes the contact team executive committee to maintain a web site and email lists in order to disseminate information regarding matters relating to the contact team, the neighborhood plan, city officials, neighborhood business, property owners and other interested parties.
The resolution authorizes the executive committee to approve emails, on-line posts, newsletter columns and other communications regarding the contact team providing that any description of opinions or decisions be limited to those that have been decided by a formal vote of the contact team.
The resolution authorizes the executive committee to proactively schedule meetings or speakers, make meeting announcements, request documents or otherwise execute logistical communications.
Brian Graham added language to the resolution that approved the idea that any member of the Contact Team is free to communicate on matters related to the CT or the Neighborhood Plan however they choose and may use their CT affiliation for identification purposes, but members should include a statement that any views they express are personal and not those of the Contact Team.
The resolution was read again as amended. Brian moved to adopt the resolution as amended. Margi seconded. The resolution was passed.
Conor then brought forth an amendment saying that the CT authorizes the Chair or the Chair’s designee to similarly execute logistical communications when prior approval by executive committee is not practical or possible.
Conor then briefed the CT on his efforts to create a web site for the CT. He purchased a domain name and set up emails for the three executive committee members that can be used by future committee members in the future. It will be hosted by Windsor Park resident Mark Boyden on his server.
Conor recommended all CT members attend the city run CT training sessions that are held quarterly. It was agreed that the April CT meeting should focus on transportation problems and include a representative from the COA Transportation Department and possibly from Austin Vision Zero. Their goal is to reduce traffic fatalities to ZERO by 2025.
Margi nominated Rodney Ahart for membership on the contact team. Scooter seconded. Nadia Khan self-nominated herself for CT membership. Both Rodney and Nadia were elected by an 8-0 vote by secret ballot.