June 23, 2014

After a late start due to a closed session, the Town COWncil held its regular meeting, with all COWncilmembers in attendance.

The COWncil approved a contract with O’Grady Paving (the only bidder!) for $281,777 (and a $50,000 contingency) to fund the construction of crosswalk and other improvements as part of the Woodside School Safety Project, which will be built during this summer while school is out of session. O’Grady has worked in Woodside before.

In the Town Manager’s Report, Kevin Bryant noted that interest in the Defensible Space Matching Fund Program has jumped since the COWncil increased the amount. The Town will match from $1,000 to $2,000. Nineteen new properties have been approved since the increase. The Matching Fund encourages homeowners to keep their properties free of brush and debris, and in this new era of a year-round fire season, that’s a goal we can all support! Applications for the Program are available on the Town’s website.

Kevin also proposed changes to how the Town is handling older building approvals. Woodside does not currently have rules to make approvals expire after a certain amount of time without activity, which is apparently unusual among our neighboring towns. Recently applicants have been picking up and moving on approvals that are older than five years. This certainly makes sense given the recession we all lived through. Kevin claims that this makes processing applications difficult as “rules do change over time, and old approvals may not meet current standards.” According to the Report, “Staff and the Town Attorney will be recommending expiration dates for entitlements,” and will recommend that the Code be amended to “clarify” when incomplete applications are deemed to be withdrawn. So if you’ve been thinking about whether or not to move on a project you’ve had approved for your property, the time to move on it is now or enjoy another boxing match with Town development officials!

Finally in the Report, Kevin stated that Cal Water has communicated with the Town about the restrictions which will go into effect if mandatory rationing due to the ongoing drought is put into place. Currently, voluntary restrictions are in place, but the following would be prohibited if mandatory rationing is put in force:

• Use of water that results in runoff to gutters and streets
• Washing of vehicles without use of a shut-off nozzle
• Use of water for washing hard-surfaced areas such as driveways and sidewalks
• Use of water for filling decorative lakes or ponds
• Use of water for decorative fountains unless it utilizes a recirculation system
• Use of water for the filling of swimming pools

It’s interesting to note that some on the COWncil consider enforcing these types of restrictions as basically impossible to enforce, and that if water rationing comes into effect, actual hard water use limits will be enforced by the water authorities.

The main business of the meeting was the approval of a lot line adjustment by the Town COWncil, dividing a lot on Moore Road into three buildable lots. The adjustment had been denied by the Planning Commission because the PC stated that the proposed map didn’t comply with certain General Plan goals and policies. When it was first brought before the Town COWncil at the end of March, the COWncil also denied the proposed map, but sounded more positive overall. COWncilmembers literally broke out their pencils to redraw lines that on the applicants’ map to show what they considered a more appropriate map.

After discussions between Town Staff and the applicant, an adjusted map that took the Town’s concerns in mind, mostly with reduced paving on the site and not allowing development near an environmentally sensitive and scenic area was brought back to Council at this meeting. While it’s odd that a project has to get all the way to the Town COWncil twice to get approved in this Town, we are glad to see the COWncil worked with the applicant in order to get the lot line adjusted – a rare customer-focused result in this Town!

Finally, the COWncil approved the appointment of the seven members of the newly-created Emergency Preparedness Committee, and then heard COWncil Communications. The meeting adjourned thereafter.

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