This Tuesday, Oct 27, the Commission will vote on incentivizing development around the former Pole yard Superfund site.
The City Commission will cast their votes for Action Item 4,“to provisionally adopt Ordinance No. 2055 making legislative findings that creating the Pole Yard Urban Renewal District and adopting the Pole Yard Urban Renewal District Plan…” If passed, the Commission will have a second, final reading on the ordinance on November 10.
WHAT ARE THE NEIGHBORHOOD ISSUES OF CONCERN WITH THIS VOTE?
While the URD plan does mention the land use restrictions (“Institutional Controls” or ICs) put in place as part of the Superfund remediation that limit redevelopment to industrial use, it does not mention the recently published Five Year Review by the EPA, which concludes that the site is currently leaching contaminants to the groundwater above acceptable risk standards.
The site contains a treated soils area and contaminated groundwater area that cannot be disturbed. Should the City be incentivizing development of the Idaho Pole site before determining whether it is safe to do so?
Can the City postpone a decision on creating this URD until next year, after more is known about the continuation of the cleanup?
This property is trapped between I-90 and the railroad, with inadequate access. All the traffic generated from development would route through the residential NE neighborhood unless the city invests in a new arterial route.
The URD Plan mentions the lack of a grade-separated RR crossing as an example of a safety hazard at the site, but the engineering document does not include a grade separated crossing in its list of transportation upgrades that “must” be done.
In the City Engineer’s “Statement of Infrastructure Deficiency” it lists Front Street as a “local street” that must be constructed according to standards. Yet the City Commission just last week approved creating the Front Street pedestrian-only trail. In addition, the 2017 Transportation Plan does not show Front St as a developed road, it shows it as a pedestrian/bicycle trail.
The URD Plan will establish a Board to administer the district, but has chosen to use City staff rather than citizens, as is the case with the NE Urban Renewal Board. Should this district be administered by staff rather than by citizens?
Should the City be voting to incentivize development in this area before projecting the potential costs of the infrastructure needs and compare that to the potential tax revenue that could be generated by new development?
You can also comment by joining the Webex meeting.
If you are not able to join the Webex meeting and would like to provide oral comment you may send a request to email@example.com with your phone number, the item(s) you wish to comment on, and the City Clerk will call you during the meeting to provide comment. You may also send the above information via text to 406-224-3967. As always, the meeting will be streamed through the Commission’s video page (click the Streaming Live in the drop down menu).
Link for the virtual meeting at 6 pm Tuesday via Webex: