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City Council Meeting Minutes

September 15, 2009

CALL TO ORDER: City Council convened in a General Committee meeting on September 15, 2009 at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA, to receive general public comment, with the following Council members present: Genevieve Ray, Cameron Texter, Toni Smith, Carol Hill-Evans, Vice President, and Joseph R. Musso, President, with President Musso presiding. Mayor John Brenner was not present.

GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENT

Franklin Williams, 528 W. Market St., York, PA, said he still has not received a response from the Administration regarding the need to have 3-4 groups of police officers patrol the streets. He also asked why did the land receipts account have a deficit of $350,000.

Steve Young, 9 N. Newberry St., York, PA, invited residents and political candidates to a town hall meeting he's hosting at the York Emporium on Friday, September 18th at 7:00 p.m. He said he plans to discuss issues facing our city. He then announced that a flag will be raised at the Colonial Courthouse during the October Oyster Fest celebration and encouraged residents to show their support. Also, Mr. Young asked why shotspotter results have not been posted on the city's website since June. Mr. Young then reported an abandoned vehicle at Allen Park. Lastly, Mr. Young asked to add to his request from the September 1st Council meeting a copy of the settlement statement related to the YMCA properties.

Jody Moore, 131 E. 5th Ave., and owner of Double D's Hotdogs (a vending cart business), shared photos with Council of a parking enforcement officer walking past illegally parked vehicles. Mr. Moore feels the PEO's use selective enforcement and that these photos support his belief.

Patricia Maher, 147 S. Pershing Ave., York, PA, expressed concern with the lack of response from city officials over a period of 6 months in addressing a rental property next to her home that had some serious violations resulting in continuous flooding into her basement. She then followed up on another resident's complaint about junk vehicles in that this resident contacted the city police on several occasions to no avail. When the resident approached Council, he was advised that Council was not the proper authority for such complaints. She asked why the resident was not advised or directed to the proper entity at the time he filed the complaints with the police department.

There being no further public comment, President Musso adjourned the General Committee meeting and reconvened in Legislative Session at 7:00 p.m., in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA, with the following members present: Genevieve Ray, Cameron Texter, Toni Smith, Carol Hill-Evans, Vice President, and Joseph R. Musso, President, with President Musso presiding. Mayor John Brenner was not present.

Members of the Administration in attendance included: Dan Robinson, Director of Community Development and Mark Whitman, Police Commissioner. Also present was Assistant Solicitor Shaleeta Washington. Kevin Schreiber, Director of Economic Development, John Senft, Fire Chief, Jim Gross, Director of Public Works, and Michael O’Rourke, Business Administrator, were absent.

Members of York City Council staff in attendance included: Dianna L. Thompson, City Clerk.

Pledge of Allegiance: Led by Tony Artist, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

Approval of Minutes: A motion was made by Texter, seconded by Hill-Evans, to dispense with the reading of the Minutes of September 1, 2009, and approve them as written. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Correspondence and Announcements: President Musso read correspondence and announcements.

PRESENTATIONS: None

COMMITTEE MEETINGS SCHEDULED

Public Works Committee, Toni Smith, Chair: A Public Works Committee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers to discuss contracting with Ostara, LLC for Biological Nutrient Reduction (BNR) services, which is a service to treat for phosphorous removal through a biological process as opposed to a chemical process. Ostara offers a biological process that provides for the removal of phosphorous from the waste stream and creates a fertilizer as the end product. The Committee meeting will provide an opportunity for more explanation about the process and the proposed agreements.

COMMITTEE REPORTS

Police Committee, Cameron Texter, Chair: Councilman Texter reported that a Police Committee meeting was held on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers to discuss Bill No. 58-08, (View) a Bill amending Article 725 "Firearms & Weapons" of the Codified Ordinances to establish criteria for failure to report lost or stolen firearms. After discussion, Committee members opted to instead introduce a Resolution calling upon the House, Senate and Governor of Pennsylvania to enact legislation known as the “Lost or Stolen Reporting Requirement Act”, which requires gun owners to report lost or stolen handguns within a reasonable period of time after discovering that their handgun(s) have been either lost or stolen. The purpose of the legislation is to disrupt the illegal distribution system that makes handguns available to felons, drug dealers, and other violent individuals. The resolution will appear on tonight's agenda for consideration of passage. (See Resolution No. 108 – View)

SUBDIVISION / LAND DEVELOPMENT / HARB

Resolution No. 106, Session 2009,(View) A Resolution denying a certificate of appropriateness for work to be covered in the application as recommended by HARB for work to be done at 319 W. Princess St., was introduced by Musso, read at length, and on motion of Musso, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 106 came up for discussion.

Dave Redshaw, Chairman of HARB, was onboard to explain this denial. He said the applicant and his wife purchased this property from the RDA, which they plan to rehab entirely for use as their own residence. The first part of their rehabilitation project was to have the roof replaced, which HARB approved. However, their second project was to have the windows replaced, which they did not receive HARB approval. The applicants stated that they contacted the Bureau of Permits, Planning and Zoning and was advised that they did not need a permit for window replacement. However, the PP&Z staff person did not inform the applicant that they needed HARB approval. Based on the information given by the PP&Z staff, the applicant installed the windows not knowing they still needed HARB approval as this property is located in the Historic District. The windows are new Pella windows, which are vinyl and look nothing at all like the original wooden 2/2 windows. The new configurations are entirely inappropriate for the age and style of the property. HARB, therefore, recommended denial of a certificate of appropriateness because the replacement windows are inappropriate in material and style and because the applicant did not obtain HARB/City Council approval before installing them. However, HARB does not recommend that the windows be replaced because the applicant was misinformed by the Bureau of PP&Z regarding the need for HARB approval. HARB did, however, approve work added to the application to install a new gutter system with half-round gutters and smooth round downspouts. Mr. Redshaw said they have since advised the Bureau of PP&Z to not give advice but to instead refer applicants to HARB.

Based on this explanation, Councilman Texter suggested amending this Resolution to reflect that the second part of the application was approved otherwise, the way the Resolution currently reads, it appears Council is denying the entire application for work to be done at 319 W. Princess St.

Motion to amend. A motion was made by Texter, seconded by Ray, to amend Resolution No. 106 to read, in part, as follows:

“….Council hereby denies a Certificate of Appropriateness for work to be covered in the following application as recommended by the Historical Architectural Review Board:

1. Dan Hevner for work to be done at 319 W. Princess St.

The foregoing work is denied in accordance with recommendations by the Historical Architectural Review Board; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Council does hereby approve a Certificate of Appropriateness for installation of a new gutter system in the above application as recommended and approved by HARB.”

The motion to amend passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 106, as amended, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 107, Session 2009, (View) A Resolution accepting the recommendations of HARB in issuing a certificate of appropriateness for work to be covered in the application submitted by AAG Building & Remodeling for work to be done at 333 E. King St., was introduced by Musso, read at length, and on motion of Musso, seconded by Texter, Resolution No. 107 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

CONSENT AGENDA

Introduction of Bill No. 35, Session 2009, (View) A Bill amending Ordinance No. 22 of 2009 regarding responsibility of owners to remove snow and ice to make it consistent with previously adopted legislation. (Article 1763 of the Property Maintenance Code), was introduced by Ray, read by short title, and deferred until the October 6th meeting of Council.

City Clerk Dianna Thompson explained that at Council's August 18th meeting, an ordinance (Ord. #22) was adopted amending the Snow Removal ordinance. That ordinance did not include changes that were made in 2006. This amendment would merge the changes made in 2006 as well as the changes made last month (Ord. #22).

Introduction of Bill No. 36, Session 2009, (View) A Bill amending the 2009 Budget to reflect changes resulting from unallocated CDBG funds generated by Program Income which relieved funds in the original entitlement to fund additional activities in the amount of $65,000 ($40,000.00 for RDA Demolition & Acquisition; $20,000 for the Spanish-American Center; and $5,000 for Relocation), was introduced by Ray, read by short title, and deferred until the October 6th meeting of Council.

FINAL PASSAGE OF BILLS / RESOLUTIONS

Final Passage of Bill No. 34, Ordinance No. 34, Session 2009, (View) A Bill amending the York City Budget for the year 2009 by appropriating revenue and expenses for the York City Department of Permits, Planning and Zoning, for a Pennsylvania Community and Economic Development (DCED) grant in the amount of $49,500.00 with matching funds from CDBG, which funds will be used to improve online permitting capabilities on the city's website, which was introduced by Ray at the September 1st meeting of Council, and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Ray, seconded by Hill-Evans, Bill No. 34 came up for discussion.

Community Development Director Dan Robinson explained that this grant funding was previously allocated in the state budget and will require a CDBG city match. He said the funds will be used to purchase online permitting software to streamline the permitting process for residents and staff.

Steve Young, 9 N. Newberry St., asked what software would be used. Director Robinson said they have not begun the purchasing process yet so they are unsure of the vendor or specific software at this point.

Councilman Texter replied that the contract to purchase the software would have to come before Council for approval and that this budget amendment merely allows the city to accept the grant funds.

There being no further discussion, Bill No. 34, Ordinance No. 34, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

NEW BUSINESS

Resolution No. 108, Session 2009, (View) A Resolution calling upon the Pennsylvania House, Senate and Governor to enact legislation known as the “Lost or Stolen Reporting Requirement Act”, which will require gun owners to report lost or stolen handguns within a reasonable period of time after discovering that their handgun(s) have been either lost or stolen. The purpose of the legislation is to disrupt the illegal distribution system that makes handguns available to felons, drug dealers, and other violent individuals. The Resolution was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Ray, Resolution No. 108 came up for discussion.

Councilwoman Ray said she would vote to approve this Resolution because earlier, her position was not to support an ordinance enacting gun control legislation because state law prohibits local government from passing such legislation. She stated that a Resolution is the proper avenue to take to send a request to the state legislature to enact appropriate gun control laws.

Police Commissioner Mark Whitman read a letter from the PA Law Enforcement Gun Violence Policy Group, which he is a member. The letter invites the City of York to join the PA Law Enforcement Gun Violence Policy Group, a new alliance of police leaders who have come together to address the escalating problem of gun violence in our state. The intent of the group is to pierce the haze of politics and to make their voices heard. The letter also reads that by forming a strong, diverse, and united front, we can send a strong message to gun traffickers and violent criminals that change is coming in Pennsylvania. He said they are asking that a good common sense approach be taken in dealing with gun laws and he applauded Councilwoman Smith for introducing this Resolution.

Councilman Texter said he didn't feel a local ordinance would be upheld in court. He said he is willing to vote to support this Resolution to encourage state legislators to discuss this type of proposal and decide whether it can be properly and effectively enacted and enforced to protect lives without harming the rights of legitimate gun owners. "We should never fear having a discussion," Texter said.

Councilwoman Smith stated that she was happy to lead this initiative, which she feels shows our support of gun control. She said she is concerned about the safety and welfare of our residents and it is our job to protect them.

Discussion ensued on statistics on straw purchases and gun violence.

President Musso asked how this law would protect innocent gun owners who have become victims of crime. He said prosecuting a responsible gun owner who may not have noticed that his/her weapon was lost or stolen is not the answer.

Commissioner Whitman said the Lost or Stolen Reporting Requirement Act is not a cure-all but will help reduce the loop holes currently existing in gun control laws.

Discussion ensued on how the Lost or Stolen Reporting Requirement Act would protect residents and if it will in fact protect them.

President Musso said the statement in the Resolution that reads, “A recent survey by Greenberg Quinlan demonstrated that 96% of Pennsylvanians favor enactment of a Lost or Stolen Reporting Requirement for handguns” was misleading. He said that all Pennsylvanians weren't surveyed, only 96% of those who were surveyed favored this legislation.

Vice President Hill-Evans asked if the language pointed out by President Musso regarding the Greenberg Quinlan survey could be removed. Councilman Texter asked where that information came from.

Assistant Solicitor Shaleeta Washington responded that the information came from the Council of Churches resolution, which she modeled, however, the statistical measures were not indicated so she's not sure how they calculated the percentage.

Motion to amend. Councilwoman Ray suggested amending the language to read, “A recent survey by Greenberg Quinlan demonstrated that 96% of Pennsylvanians surveyed favor enactment of a Lost or Stolen Reporting Requirement for handguns”. Council agreed, therefore, the motion to amend was seconded by Smith, and passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith – 4; Nays – Musso – 1.

Chris Buckingham, 564 Atlantic Ave., York, PA, applauded Council for not breaknig state law and also applauded President Musso for seeing the reality of the Lost or Stolen Reporting Requirement law. He said the districts surveyed should be listed in the Resolution and the percentage should be struck from the language altogether. He said he feels this Resolution is an act of desperation and will not control straw purchases.

Jason Epperson, 445 Hillcrest Rd., York, PA, asked about victimless laws and said they exist. He then discussed the Castle Doctrine, which basically gives someone the right to use deadly force to protect themselves, their property, and their family. He stated that common sense laws are virtually non-existent and he feels the Police Commissioner cannot give a clear answer on what this legislation will accomplish.

Bennie Carter, 36 N. Hartman St., York, PA, said he is a gun owner and he applauds the City Council for taking a stand on gun control but that he also respects and understands President Musso's point. He said he would be concerned about his own rights being jeopardized if he's out-of-town and someone breaks into his house and steals his weapon and immediately uses it to commit a crime. He questioned whether he would be charged under this new law.

Commissioner Whitman explained that there must be a plausible explanation that can be proven and/or believable to relinquish you from prosecution.

Franklin Williams, 528 W. Market St., York, PA, said he doesn't own a gun but respects the right to own. He stated that most gun owners are responsible but we're making laws based on the few irresponsible owners. He said Council must decide the best stand to take based on the information heard...will this legislation punish innocent people is a reasonable thought, he said.

Councilwoman Smith discussed recent crimes where guns were used, such as the killing of 9 year old Ciara Savage on Mother's Day morning. She said she realizes that loopholes exist but to do nothing is not the answer. She feels adopting responsible gun control legislation and bringing concerns about the loopholes to our legislators is the right move to make.

Steve Young, 9 N. Newberry St., York, PA, said that Council's original move to adopt a gun control law was wrong and we had no business considering it. To use Council to send a message to our legislators on behalf of the residents of the City of York is also wrong, he stated. Mr. Young pointed out various inconsistencies and misrepresented information in the Resolution and asked Council to vote down this Resolution.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 108, as amended, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith – 4; Nays – Musso – 1.

Resolution No. 109, Session 2009, (View) A Resolution authorizing a 5-yr. agreement with PennDot for winter traffic services which will authorize the city to provide 6.31 linear miles of snow & ice control on state highways located within the city limits, was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Hill-Evans, Resolution No. 109 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 110, Session 2009, (View) A Resolution authorizing a budget transfer for the Bureau of Housing Services in the amount of $144,118.00 from Section 108 loan activity related to the Memorial Park & Allen Field projects, was introduced by Ray, read at length, and on motion of Ray, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 110 came up for discussion.

Councilwoman Ray questioned the use of these funds as she thought the money would be used for streets.

Councilwoman Smith explained that she spoke with Public Works Director Jim Gross and he said we already have enough money to cover streets projects. Therefore, this money could be used for other rehabilitation projects such as redeveloping our parks and playgrounds, which is an eligible expenditure under the Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program. Councilwoman Smith said she supports using these dollars to rehab our parks because our children need a safe place to play.

Community Development Director Dan Robinson said this isn't money earmarked for the Public Works Department. He said road projects are not relevant to this pot of money.

President Musso questioned account number 30-414-48214-20509 as he said this line item does not exist in our budget. Director Robinson said that account number could be a typographical error.

A discussion ensued on budget amounts, account numbers, CDBG, and Section 108 Loan Guarantee eligible projects.

Councilwoman Ray said she wants to hear from Public Works Director Jim Gross and felt that she didn't have enough information on this expenditure to vote this evening.

Motion to table. As questions still exist, a motion was made by Ray, seconded by Smith, to table Resolution No. 110 until the October 6th meeting of Council. The motion to table passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 111, Session 2009, (View) A Resolution authorizing a budget transfer for the Bureau of Permits, Planning & Zoning in the amount of $47,400.00 for other professional services, was introduced by Ray, read at length, and on motion of Ray, seconded by Hill-Evans, Resolution No. 111 came up for discussion.

Director Robinson explained that this transfer will be used to pay for professional consulting services which the Bureau of PP&Z secured earlier this year to cover staff deficiencies that existed as a result of vacant positions. He said that we have been able to fill most of those vacant positions and we hope to be able to phase out the need for ongoing consulting services in the near future.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 111 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

REQUESTS FOR FUTURE MEETINGS

Public Works Committee, Toni Smith, Chair: A Public Works Committee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers to discuss contracting with Ostara, LLC for Biological Nutrient Reduction (BNR) services, which is a service to treat for phosphorous removal through a biological process as opposed to a chemical process. Ostara offers a biological process that provides for the removal of phosphorous from the waste stream and creates a fertilizer as the end product. The Committee meeting will provide an opportunity for more explanation about the process and the proposed agreements.

COUNCIL COMMENT

Councilwoman Smith said on August 8, 2009 the 1000 Black Men Against Violence Coalition sponsored a “Hide the Line Food Drive” which was held in the parking lot of the York County Food Bank, 254 W. Princess St., York, PA, as an effort to help replenish the Food Bank's evaporating supply of food. She asked Bennie Carter, a member of the coalition, to approach the podium. She presented Mr. Carter with a check in the amount of $500 to help with their cause.

Mr. Carter thanked Councilwoman Smith for the donation and said they were able to collect over 2,000 pounds of food and $1,300.00 in donations. He said they appreciated everyone who donated and took part in the event. Mr. Carter said the coalition has since changed their name to the United Coalition Against Violence in York.

ADMINISTRATION COMMENT: None

NEXT MEETING: The next regular meeting of City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. (Public Comment commences at 6:30 p.m.) in City Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA.

ADJOURNMENT: There being no further business, the September 15, 2009 meeting of Council adjourned at 9:39 p.m.