Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
Nov 6, 2010
FIRST READING OF AN ORDINANCE ACCEPTING FISCAL YEAR 2009-2010 AUDITED FINANCIAL STATEMENT – Elliott Davis, LLC completed the City’s audit for fiscal year 2009-2010. Within the audit, the 2009-2010 line items show the changes with respect to the actual revenue and expenditures. In essence the audit is a reconciliation of what City Council approved in June 2009, and what was actually spent during the past fiscal year. The audit report shows that there were no deficiencies found in our financial records. At tonight's meeting Laurie Smith of Elliott Davis will discuss various aspects of the audit and answer any questions you have concerning this report.
FIRST READING OF AN ORDINANCE TO INCLUDE THE AIKEN COUNTY COMPLEX IN THE HISTORIC OVERLAY DISTRICT – Over the last several months, the Design Review Board has been meeting to consider a request from Martin Buckley to designate the tract of land bounded by Morgan Street, Richland Avenue W., Vaucluse Road, and Barnwell Avenue into the Historic Overlay District. This area is occupied by the County Complex.
The Design Review Board at their October 6, 2010, meeting voted 5 to 1 to recommend to the Planning Commission that the land be designated to the Historic Overlay District and that the portion of the Aiken County Complex built in 1935 and the iron stone wall at the front of the property be considered contributing. They also stated that the Nurses' Home and the portion of the Aiken County Complex building in the 1950's be considered non-contributing and that all other structures be exempt from this designation.
City Council will need to make a final determination as to whether or not to designate this property into the Historic Overlay District. If you decide to adopt this ordinance, Council must state whether any structures should be considered a landmark (essential to the character of the district), contributing (as to the historic character of the site), or non-contributing. As set forth at 5.2.2.b of the Zoning Ordinance for a historic site or district designation, Council must conclude that this site is significant in American, South Carolina or Aiken history and has integrity of location, design, setting, materials or workmanship that needs to be protected or preserved and meets one of the following criteria:
1. It is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to history;
2. It is associated with the lives of persons significant in history;
3. It has distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of architecture or construction;
4. It has yielded or is likely to yield information important in prehistory or history;
5. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Planning Commission had a special meeting on Wednesday, November 3, 2010, to hear this request. They voted 6 - 1 to recommend that the property not be designated.
FIRST READING OF AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND THE ZONING ORDINANCE CONCERNING TREE PRUNING AND REMOVAL – One of the top Action Agenda items for the Planning Commission was the review of the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance regarding the pruning of trees. Over the last couple of years we have had several complaints from businesses concerning the city's standards for pruning trees, especially crepe myrtles. The current Zoning Ordinance requires that any property not occupied by a single-family residence will abide by the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance regarding pruning. These regulations went into effect in 1984 and have been updated on four different occasions.
Several meetings were held with businesses and landscaping companies to receive their input concerning possible changes. These meetings were held on June 15, September 14, and a public hearing on October 12, 2010. The Planning Commission on a 5 to 1 vote decided to primarily maintain the existing pruning standards with the City Horticulturist making the final determination on whether the standards are met. A few changes were made which are summarized in the memo from the Planning Commission. The only major change was the determination that for new development the trees can be spaced to allow a gap for the location of a freestanding sign. In addition the Planning Commission recommends that we increase the public awareness concerning the proper pruning methods. This would be accomplished by publishing articles in our city newsletter at least once a year, permanently displaying information on our city website, publishing an article in the Aiken Standard, offering seminars to the public and doing an annual mailing to all landscaping and tree companies concerning the proper pruning methods.
In addition, we are asking our City Horticulturist to develop a pamphlet, which will show the various pruning methods desired for the trees listed within the ordinance. Once City Council has taken action on this ordinance we should be able to develop this brochure within the next few months.
BUSINESS FORUM RESULTS –City Council over the last several months has met on several occasions with businesses to discuss their concerns about the current economic climate. Based on these meetings a Business Forum was held at 7 P.M. on August 24, 2010, in the City Conference Room. A letter was sent by the Mayor to over 2,000 businesses located within the City of Aiken inviting them to this meeting, which featured six different topics that businesses could give input. Also, businesses were allowed to go to more than one forum to discuss their concerns. This information was given to the Business School at USC-Aiken to tabulate, and we developed an on-line survey. The on-line survey was used to allow greater input by those businesses, both inside and outside the city. This survey was competed by 20 businesses, some of which attended this meeting and others presenting new information. Attached is the information that was tabulated from these two sources.
Richard Pearce will discuss with you the results and how it could be incorporated with our Strategic Plan. Once you receive this information you can then decide what, if anything, you would like to do at this present time and how you would like to use this information in the future. If Council desires we can receive this as information or we can discuss it further at the Horizons Retreat in January.
REQUEST FOR HOLIDAY BANNERS IN DOWNTOWN AIKEN – Last year City Council approved a request from the ADDA to display holiday banners from Thanksgiving to New Year's in downtown Aiken. Due to extenuating circumstances they were not able to obtain these banners in time. However, they would like City Council to reapprove these holiday banners to be placed throughout the downtown again this year. A prototype of the design is attached for your review along with the locations where these banners would be placed. Based on the attached drawing one Character First and Celebrate Aiken banner would need to be moved from their current locations on Laurens Street. They could be relocated to the Farmers' Market. In addition 6 new arms will need to be installed for these banners. Public Safety can install these arms prior to this date for less than $100.
APPROVAL OF BUSINESS SIGNS IN DOWNTOWN AIKEN – Several months ago I discussed an issue involving downtown business signs. The effort involved placing signs in the downtown area, which would point visitors and potential customers to those businesses, located on some of our side streets. The City Manager showed me some signs that had been used in the past for this purpose. At the suggestion of some local business owners, I asked that we consider installing these signs during the holiday season to stimulate sales for some of our downtown businesses. At Monday’s meeting we will consider placing directional signs on Laurens Street to identify the businesses on the side streets.
At the November, 2010, ADDA Board meeting the Board voted to approve a request to City Council asking that these signs be reinstalled from Thanksgiving to New Years. The Board would then review whether to consider placing them permanently at these locations. They are requesting signs be located on Laurens and Newberry Street to indicate the businesses on Park Avenue, Hayne, The Alley and Richland.
I will ask that these signs be installed immediately and that we do so from October 15 through New Years without further action by City Council.
CROSLAND PARK PROGRESS. At this point, we have closed on two more homes. These sales have returned $178,600, minus closing costs, to the City to be used on other homes. Also, two more homes are under contract to be sold and another is under a lease-purchase agreement. We have five more with potential prospects receiving financial counseling in order to qualify for loans. Three homes have been abated of asbestos, and are now being renovated. Our next homes to rebuild are in the Alfred and Aldrich area of the neighborhood. We anticipate completing the entrance arboretum prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. The Crosland Park Neighborhood Association is sponsoring an event to help with planting this entrance median.
RENTAL REGISTRATION RENEWALS. Before the end of this month, we will be sending out registration forms for rental property owners. This mailing is being conducted pursuant to City Council ordinance and to enhance our ability to contact these owners when necessary. These registrations also provide us with the contact information for a local agent who is responsible for the property.
BENEFIT BANK OPERATIONAL. Each year, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of federal benefits available to South Carolinians go unclaimed. As part of our Northside Revitalization Project, we have staffers available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday at our Neighborhood Services Division Offices, at 655 Kershaw Street, between York and Hampton Streets. They can assist folks to see what federal or state benefits may be available to them as they particularly deal with the worst economy since the Great Depression.
DOWNTOWN TRAFFIC LIGHTS. ADPS Director Pete Frommer has followed up with SCDOT regarding the timing of our downtown traffic signals. After these discussions, SCDOT has agreed to pay for the installation of three “traffic loops’ in the pavement to sense the level of traffic and adjust the traffic signal intervals accordingly. We will keep you apprised of the loop installation schedule.
CITY UNITED WAY PLEDGES. Our employees – in the most challenging economy in our lifetimes – have pledged a total of $18,521 to the United Way of Aiken County for 2011.
COMMENDATIONS. Patti McVey has written to commend Mark Calvert and his Tennis Center Staff on the fine job they did with the mixed doubles tennis tournament held October 13 to 15, 2010.
Craig Musick has written Chief Frommer to commend the quick response by Capt. Wendell Hall and our Horticulturist Tom Rapp to take care of a problem tree limb on Houndslake Drive.
Roger Brock has sent detailed commendations for work done by Tim Coakley, Ron Mitchell, and Phil Berley. These employees represent the spirit of our staff dedication to Public Service.
SAVE THESE DATES AND PLAN TO ATTEND:
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2010 from 7:00 a.m. until, as part of Impact Aiken the City has partnered with Millbrook Baptist Church to work with almost 160 students [University, High School, and Middle School level] to perform repair and renovation work on seven homes in Northside Neighborhoods. The group will meet at 7:00 a.m. in Perry Park, adjacent to Schofield Middle School.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. in Room 204, we will continue our zero based budget review of the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. in Room 204, we will meet again on PRT zero-based budgeting.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church there will be a musical tribute to Celebrate Aiken! The orchestra will have over 120 musicians.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. we will have another zero-based budgeting session in Room 204.